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Those crazy French

2 May 2013 by superlative

Blog every day in May topic – Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at

I found this topic really difficult, and it presented a major stumbling block to me getting going on this challenge. I know about lots of different things, but I feel that most of them are… well, boring for everyone else. I know about web things and languages, but what can I write about those that’s interesting to other people? In the end I plumped for something language related and that I learnt about while doing French at university. So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

The French Republican Calendar

Please try to stifle your yawns.

I find this sort of interesting, because most people wouldn’t be aware that after the French revolution, as part of a massive drive to decimalise everything, they actually made up a whole new and completely RIDICULOUS calendar. And made everyone use it for about 12 years, until Napoleon abolished it and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Behold how stupid this is.

There were 12 months (that’s not very decimally is it? You missed a trick there, Frenchies)
Each month had 30 days, divided into three weeks of 10 days each (which meant the tenth day, the new Sunday, only came around ONCE EVERY TEN DAYS and you had to work nine days in between. Er, HELLO? Five days between weekends is bad enough)
Each day had 10 hours
Each hour had 100 minutes
Each minute had 100 seconds
Because the Earth unhelpfully refused to go around the Sun in exactly 360 days, they had to stick five (or six in leap years) extra days on the end each year. I’m sure that made them very huffy. It’s just not TIDY, you know?

The days had boring names meaning ‘First day’, ‘Second day’, etc., instead of Monday, Tuesday, blah blah. So that’s not very exciting. But the months had these delightfully childish names:

Vendémiaire – ‘grape harvest month’
Brumaire – ‘foggy month’
Frimaire – ‘frosty month’

Nivôse – ‘snowy month’
Pluviôse – ‘rainy month’
Ventôse – ‘windy month’

Germinal – ‘sprouting month’
Floréal – ‘flowery month’
Prairial – ‘grassy month’

Messidor – ‘harvest month’
Thermidor – ‘hot month’
Fructidor – ‘fruity month’

What the FUCK is that, France? No wonder it didn’t catch on. No one wants to be born in Fruity Month.

Every day of the year was also associated with a plant, an animal a tool or a mineral. I am rapidly losing the will to live just trying to explain it to you. How much time did they spend devising this?? And it only lasted 12 years anyway. It’s like a really shit, early version of Pokemon where you have to learn a million things then realise it’s pointless anyway.

So yeah, if you’re interested, you can find converters online to look up what your date of birth would be in the French Republican Calendar, like this one. I was apparently born on:

10 Floréal (flowery month) CLXXXIX (189th year – they ditched Jesus and started the years again from zero).

Wikipedia helpfully tells me that was the day of the RAKE. Which is sort of apt as I could pass for one if I combed my hair forwards.

I am terribly sorry that I couldn’t educate you about anything more interesting than this. You have at least learnt, however, NEVER LET THE FRENCH DO ANYTHING. THEY’RE MENTAL.


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