A century is 100 years long. Technically, a century is any time span of 100 years, but most people think of it as being from the year that ends in 1 to the year that ends in 00 or 100. As an example, the 20th century went from 1901 to 2000. The 21st century started in 2001 and will end in 2100. This way of measuring time is based on the Gregorian calendar, also called the “New Style” calendar, which is used by most people in the world today.
Each century has 10 decades, which are groups of 10 years. Like centuries, a decade can be any 10 year period. But on the Gregorian calendar, a decade starts with a year ending in 1 and ends with a year ending in 0. For example, the official start of the 1990s was in 1991 and the end was in 2000. People usually start and end a year earlier, though. The 1990s in this case started in 1990 and ended in 1999.
Years make up both centuries and decades. A year is a time span of 12 months, from January 1 to December 31. Also, there are about 365.25 days in a year. But most people think that a year only has 365 days. So, every four years, those four extra quarters add up to make a year with 366 days. We call this a leap year. The amount of time it takes for the Earth to go around the sun is also a year.
There are 12 months in each year. There are 31 days in January, March, May, July, August, October, and December. There are 30 days in April, June, September, and November. In a normal year, February has 28 days, but in a leap year, it has 29 days. The months were based on how the moon moved through space.
Days and Weeks
Days last about 24 hours and begin at midnight and end at 11:59 p.m. each night. The amount of time it takes for the Earth to spin on its axis is one day. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the seven days in a week. The weekend is Saturday and Sunday. The week is Monday through Friday. In a year, there are 52 weeks.
The four seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter, are another way to measure time. The way the Earth tilts on its axis as it goes around the sun affects the seasons. About three months pass between each season. At the time of the spring equinox in March, spring starts. The summer solstice, which takes place in June, marks the start of summer. At the time of the autumn equinox in September, autumn starts. The winter solstice is in December. This is when winter starts.
The Gregorian calendar, which was made official by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, is used to measure most of the time we use today. It replaced the Julian calendar, which turned out to be a little off. The first places to use it were Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. Many Protestant countries didn’t want to use it because they thought Catholics were trying to silence them. In 1752, it was adopted by England and the colonies that would later become the United States. It is still the most popular calendar.
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