Understanding the Hebrew Calendar
The Hebrew calendar also known as the Jewish calendar is predominantly used by Jewish religious observers. It is ideally used to determine a number of things. These include the dates at which Hebrew months have holidays, the appropriate dates of Torah, daily psalm reading among many other ceremonies associated with the Jews religion.
It also determines the best times for agriculture. The calendar is based on the cycles of moon phase which is adjusted by including a thirteenth month in certain years. This addition of a 13th month is meant to synchronize the lunar cycles with the solar year.
The current Hebrew Calendar 2012 commenced in 16th September 2012 and will continue up to 4th September 2013. It is also known as the year 5773 and has 12 months. The number of months every year changes between 12 and 13.
The reason why these numbers keep changing is because of the number of days making up a month of a lunar calendar. Ideally, a month has about 29.53 days, meaning that a typical Hebrew calendar would be 11 or 12 days less compared to the normal calendar that amounts to 365 days a year.
Understanding this calendar enables an individual to know why holy days do not occur at the same time on the Gregorian calendar. It also assists an individual to be able to calculate the Jewish year. Ideally, it is stated that the number of years in the Jewish chart represents the actual years since creation.
In order to arrive at the current Hebrew year-5773, a person has to subtract 1240 from the current Gregorian year and add 5000 to the answer.
According to the Jews, the first day of the week is known as Yom Rishon which is Sunday while the last day is Yom Shabbat which is Saturday in the modern calendar. This means that Shabbat is considered a holy day, the most important day within a week, and perhaps even more important than Yom Kippur.
Also the first month of the year is known as Nisan which is often between March and April. Ivyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishri, Cheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat and Adar are the subsequent months. The 13th month is known as Adar II
An additional aspect of the Hebrew chart that is important to note is the four seasons. Since the Jewish year is also cyclical, spring will fall between the months of Nisan and Sivan while summer starts in Tammuz and ends in Elul. Fall Falls between Tishri and Kislev while winter falls between Tevet and Adar. This is not different from the solar calendar.
Another important characteristic to note about the Hebrew calendar is the start of the day. The Jewish day starts at sunset rather than midnight as is for the globally used calendar. Additionally, one of the important holidays of the Jewish calendar is Yom Kippur; also know as the Day of Atonement. While making the yearly calendar, religious leaders always ensure that this holiday does not fall on a Friday or a Sunday.