In the Western world the current year is 2014, which is the number of years since the birth of the Christian messiah. Given that Christianity is not the dominant religion in every part of the world, I would expect that there are some cultures that are not in the year 2014. I have been unable to find a conclusive answer on this by searching the web, however.

Is every major civilization in the same year? If so, how did the Europeans come to have such a strong influence over the entire planet, even over countries such as China?

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    "how did the Europeans come to have such a strong influence over the entire planet, even over countries such as China?" Would you like a volume of books? because that's how long a decent answer would have to be. Essentially, it all boils down to European colonization from 1500 to 1800. Mostly English colonization, but the French, Spanish, and Portuguese had the same kind of influence over the world, just to a lesser extent.
    – user1973
    Feb 27, 2014 at 20:13
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    The words "civilization" and "culture" are a bit too fuzzy. What do you actually mean? Otherwise this is a good question. Feb 27, 2014 at 21:37
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    Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs and Steel is one place to go for an answer to the question of how Europe came to be so dominant. (There's more information about the book in this question). Feb 27, 2014 at 22:05
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    See list at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendar#Calendars_in_use
    – Tim S.
    Feb 27, 2014 at 23:55
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    In Japan, the Gregorian calendar (2014) is used in most contexts, but dates on all official paperwork and often in histories or in conversation with the elderly, are reckoned using nengō (era names which change with the emperor). 2014 is Heisei 26, the 26th year of the emperor Akihito, who will be renamed 'Heisei' upon his death according to custom. Feb 28, 2014 at 10:23

6 Answers 6


The Gregorian calendar, Western calendar or the Christian calendar, is a calendar that was a reform in 1582 to the Julian calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named. But was is an adaptation of a calendar designed by Italian doctor, astronomer and philosopher Luigi Lilio. And it is not nesassarly based of Jesus birth , most scholars arrive at a date of birth between 6 and 4 BC. [1]

The Gregorian reforms were never intended to unify the calendars of Europe, just those of the Christian nations. However, the Inter Gravissimas began a chain of events that are still ongoing in the world, over four hundred years later, and the Gregorian Calendar has ceased to be a primarily Christian institution. Although the Gregorian calendar slowly spread across the world during the 18th and 19th centuries, the situation in Europe remained static until 1912. The event that united the calendars of Europe was the 1st World War. Some countries were forced into accepting the reforms by an occupying army, like Latvia and Lithuania - while others, notably Russia, switched in the aftermath of a revolution. The post-war division of the Ottoman Empire led to many of the Balkan countries adopting the Gregorian calendar, and Turkey in 1926.

So from that point on Europe, America and France being the most "civilized and advanced nations " after the war it slowly became internationally the most widely used civil calendar. It has been the unofficial global standard for decades, recognised by international institutions like the United Nations[2] and the Universal Postal Union[3]. So by default because of other advancing nations needing to be on the "same page " as it has already been established universally, they adopt it also.

Although not all countries have adopted the Gregorian calendar Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Iran and Afghanistan. Some countries use other calendars alongside the Gregorian calendar, including India, Bangladesh, Israel and Burma; and other countries use a modified version of the Gregorian calendar, including Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, North Korea and Taiwan. The Eastern Orthodox Church has never fully accepted the calendar.

[1] http://catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0004.html




[2] http://aristean.org/un.htm

[3] http://books.google.com/books?id=v2yiyLLOj88C&pg=PA753&lpg=PA753&dq=when+did+the+Universal+Postal+Union+start+using+the+gregorian+calendar&source=bl&ots=ZjcXCke42w&sig=C7LsPlf9GoA8ar9ANGSh8De6DUM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=P9oQU6edA8nayAGn5oDoDw&ved=0CDwQ6AEwCQ

Other points of reference -





  • In the Republic of China (Taiwan) they're currently in "year 103 of the Republic." There's a whole article on the subject on Wikipedia: Minguo Calendar.
    – DaoWen
    Feb 28, 2014 at 4:38
  • @DaoWen, See thats the reason Im not crazy about Wikipedia because "people "write it. On Wikipedias enrty on the Gregorian calander it says this " The Republic of China (ROC) formally adopted the Gregorian calendar at its founding on 1 January 1912, but China soon descended into a period of warlordism with different warlords using different calendars. With the unification of China under the Kuomintang in October 1928, the Nationalist Government decreed that effective 1 January 1929 the Gregorian calendar would be used."
    – rob
    Feb 28, 2014 at 5:05
  • And this " China retained the Chinese traditions of numbering the months and a modified Era System, backdating the first year of the ROC to 1912; this system is still in use in Taiwan where the ROC government retains control. Upon its foundation in 1949, the People's Republic of China continued to use the Gregorian calendar with numbered months, but abolished the ROC Era System and adopted Western numbered years."
    – rob
    Feb 28, 2014 at 5:06
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    So take Wikipedia with a grain of salt, cause what article does one beleive?
    – rob
    Feb 28, 2014 at 5:07
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    All of that is accurate. The ROC uses the Gregorian calendar, but uses a different year number. The PRC both uses the Gregorian calendar and numbers the years from 1 AD (although they call it something like "standard start"—I'm not exactly sure how to translate 公元).
    – DaoWen
    Feb 28, 2014 at 5:51

The Jewish calendar is in year 5774 (between September of 2013 and October of 2014, it's a leap year), so the "Jewish civilization" is not in 2014.

The state of Israel, which is really the only official body to recognize the Jewish calendar, determines all of its holidays and memorial days on the basis of the Jewsih calendar. However, all of the civil dates of import (school year start and end, tax calculations etc.) are all done using the standard Gregorian calendar and it's 2014 in Israel just like everyhwere else.

To answer the question, there are plenty of cultures which use a differnent calendar, and are in a different year. However, the Gregorian (Christian) calendar is the lingua franca of the world, and what everyone uses when they need to be understood outside their own culture.

Why this is the case probably stems from the fact that for the last few decades the world has been slowly globalizing trade, and everybody wants to trade with Americans and Europeans because that's where the money is. It is very helpful to set standards for these things, and because the American and European cultures have so much influence, it is the Gregorian calendar that became the standard.

  • Also, let's not forget that it's quite practical, and handles the leap seconds much better than more ancient calendars, which are used only or mostly in religious contexts (like the Jewish one)
    – vsz
    Mar 5, 2014 at 19:14
  • @vsz: Actually, the Jewish calendar has a (rather odd) method of using leap months in order to synchronize the lunar and solar years. It is surprisingly accurate over the 19 year solar/lunar cycle.
    – Carmi
    Mar 5, 2014 at 20:09

For those running a Windows operating system with MS Outlook, who wish to experiment with alternate calendars, instructions are available here, or by selecting from the Ribbon in Office 2007 or later:
File -> Options -> Calendar -> Calendar Options -> Enable Alternate Calendar

enter image description here
The available Calendars are listed below with their respective representation of today, March 1, 2014:

>  Gregorian:    March 1, 2014
>  Hijiri:       Rabi' Than 29, 1435 (year can be offset when selecting)
>  Um-al-Qura:   Rabi' Than 29, 1435
>  Hebrew Lunar: Adari 29, 5774
>  Saka Era:     Phalguna 10, 1935

These are just the calendars available in the English Language version of Windows/Office. The International versions may support more.

LINUX and MAC probably have similar capability, but I do not have easy access to either of them.


The Chinese have a Chinese calendar. In India there are several Calendars. For practical purposes, the Indian Government and all commercial establishments follow the Gregorian calendar- to "synch" with the rest of the world. It makes scientific sense to follow UTC and a standard that is universal. That's how the globalized system works.

But local cultures follow local customs and festivities on the basis of local calendars. That I guess is a fact all over the "non-western" world.


As already mentioned by others, most countries around the world tend to use for official business purposes the Gregorian calendar. I think it would be quite unusual if there are places in the world where people are familiar with their own calendar year but are unaware that it is the Gregorian year 2014 now.

Nonetheless, some calendars in East and Southeast Asia:

  • Buddhist Era Year for Gregorian 2013-2014 is 2556. (New Year in April. Used in at least Thailand and Burma, with slight differences.) (Commonly displayed in Thailand. Not sure about Burma.)
  • Chinese Lunar Year is 4712 in most of 2014 (I have not seen this commonly displayed in any country I've been. While the lunar calendar is still widely used for marking festivals and stuff, little attention seems to ever be paid to what the numerical year is. It is however still commonly noted that it is, for example, the Jia-wu Year of the Horse in most of 2014.)
  • Republic of China (Taiwan) Year is 103 in 2014 (Commonly displayed in Taiwan.)
  • In Japan it's Heisei 26 in 2014. (Commonly displayed in Japan.)


  • North Korea Juche Year is 103 in 2014. (This is based on Kim Il Sung's birth year of 2014, coincidentally the same as the first year of the ROC. I have not been to North Korea but I presume this is commonly used, since Kim Il Sung is probably held in higher regard than Jesus Christ there.)

The Government of Tamil Nadu (A state in India) follows Tiruvalluvar year. This calendar will have the year 31 BC as the year Tiruvalluvar might have possibly existed; So, the calculation would be 31 years ahead of Gregorian calendar.

The Tamil Calendar also have 12 months which starts from Chitirai followed by 11 other Tamil months. This calendar also has leap year adjustment in the month of Aadi (July-Aug of Gregorian calendar)

The Tamil Nadu government officially adapted the Tiruvalluvar year calendar in 1972. Key point here to note is the Tamil Nadu government calendar is different from the official Indian calendar Saka.

The peoples of Tamil Nadu still celebrate their new year in the Tamil month of Chitirai 1 which would fall by 14th April of Gregorian calendar.

Source: http://www.sangam.org/articles/view2/?uid=987 https://venkadesh1987.wordpress.com/tag/thiruvalluvar-aandu/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiruvalluvar

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