French Revolutionary Calendar

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Calendar proposed during the French Revolution, and adopted by the French government for several years, until finally abolished by Napoleon to appease the Catholic church. Adopted by the Jacobin controlled Convention in October 1793. Abolished by Napoleon in 1804 (year 12), eleven years after its introduction.

The Revolutionary Calendar had 12 months of 30 days each, which were given new names based on nature:

  • Vendémiaire ("vintage")
  • Brumaire ("mist")
  • Frimaire ("frost")
  • Nivôse ("snow")
  • Pluviôse ("rain")
  • Ventôse ("wind")
  • Germinal ("seed")
  • Floréal ("flower")
  • Prairial ("meadow")
  • Messidor ("harvest")
  • Thermidor ("heat")
  • Fructidor ("fruits")

Note that the English names are approximate, as most of the month names were new words coined from similar French or Latin words.

Five left over days (six in leap years) were used as national holidays at the end of every year. The month was divided into three weeks of ten days each. Years were counted from the beginning of the 'Republican Era', beginning September 1792. (So the calendar began a year before it was actually adopted.)

It was abolished because the Catholic church opposed it as an attempt to rid the calendar of all Christian influences and because having a ten-day work gave workers less rest, one day off every ten instead of one day off every seven.

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