Tag Archives: Buddhist calendar

Today Is The Infamous ‘Ides Of March’, Middle Of March, March 15.

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by
Anura Guruge


A Roman mosaic for March, which appears top right in the graphic — March the first month of the Roman year BECAUSE that was the month the Roman armies would start to ‘march’ after camping for the winter! Yes march = March. Pretty neat stuff.

Ides of March‘, like so many other English phrases [e.g., ‘forgone conclusion‘, ‘a rose by any other name …’, ‘a sea change‘, ‘Et tu Bruté’], is common currency because it appeared in a Shakespeare play, in this case ‘Julius Caesar‘ — in the warning given to the dictator (but never Emperor) by a female soothsayer: ‘beware of the ides of March’. It just meant the middle of the month.

The early Roman calendar, c. 750 BCE, thought to be a lunar-based, had three fixed points for each month: Kalendae (Kalends), Nonae (Nones) & Idus (Ides).

Kalends (from which we got ‘calendar’) was the first day of the month.

Nones, thought to represent the half-moon, fell on the 5th or 7th of a month and was the 8th day BEFORE the ides!

Ides, thought to represent the full moon, fell on the 13th day of months with 29 days, and on the 15th day of months with 31 days, i.e., March, May, July & October.

The Romans, a strange bunch as you can tell from their numerals and togas, counted backwards from these three points — in the case of Kalends using the first day of the next month!

So to be fair, Ides was the easiest of days to work out, because it was either the 13 or the 15 depending on the Month.

So that is how we get the Ides of March.

But, in reality every month as Ides.


Yes, calendars are another topic that fascinates me and whenever I have sometime I learn about calendars. There is however a ton to learn, just even about the ‘Roman’ calendar we use — though I am slightly conversant with the Buddhist and Sinhalese calendars as well. The Sinhalese New Year, which falls on the same day each year is on April 14.


The most famous thing to have happened on an Ides of March. It changed the course and complexion of world history. The world would have been very different if Julius had ruled for another 20 years, as he easily could have.

A.M. and P.M. In Terms of Time: Do You Still Remember What They Stand For?

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


On Sunday, and I think it might have been on the Bloomberg TV channel, I heard a young reporter talking about the start of the Tampa convention mention something along the lines: ‘… tomorrow at 10 ante meridiem they will gavel open the convention …‘!

Wow. My ears pricked up and my interest was piqued. I, of course, knew what he meant but I hadn’t heard that lovely phrase that just rolls of your tongue in decades!

‘Ante Meridiem’, A.M., AM; Before Midday.

Post meridiem, P.M., PM. After Midday.

I just asked Devanee. I guess they never taught her that in 6 years of schooling. She is very good at guessing. So, ‘PM’ was ‘past morning‘ — which to be fair works. ‘AM’ for after morning, however, didn’t work.

I asked a few others. ‘PM’ was ‘past midday’ — which works.

But, the Latin is so beautiful, as Latin invariably is. Another time related Latin term that we do not give thought to: ‘AD‘ – Anno Domini (AD), after Christ. In my books, influenced by my father (who adopted it in his writings a long time ago he also being very adept at using the Buddhist calendar), I now use CE and BCE more and more, though in my pope books nobody really would have an issue with AD and BC.

[2012 is 2556 in the Buddhist calendar used in Sri Lanka. 56 years ago, in 1956, when I was 3, it was year 2500. Big celebrations right through the year. My father, then 28, was in charge of these celebrations. It was a big deal. People still talk about it. I remember bits of it.]

My only issue with BC and AD is that the dating is wrong — and being the pedantic devil I am, it bothers me to use a designation that is incorrect. For those that are not familiar with this issue (despite it being widely known and discussed), the current scholarly consensus as to when Jesus was born, based on historical studies, is between 6 BC and 4 BC. So, the BC/AD designation per se, per the wording used, is 4 to 6 years out (and that without factoring in all of the confusion caused over the years by us not having started at year zero.). So, an added advantage of the increasingly used BCE and CE, where CE refers to ‘Common Era’, is that it glosses over, kind of fudges, the 4-6 year discrepancy.

Anyway, just wanted to document AM and PM. Another lovely Latin/Italian word that I got to savor this morning, when doing a pope post, was ‘biglietto’ — for ticket.