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The months of September [meaning "the seventh"] through December [meaning "the tenth"] are already numeric names, although their meanings do not match their positions in either the Julian or the Gregorian calendar since the Romans added the months January and February to the original ten-month March to December year of King Romulus.
Individual days were assigned, instead of to the traditional saints, to people noteworthy for mostly secular achievements; 25 December is assigned to both Jesus and Newton. The new Republican government sought to institute, among other reforms, a new social and legal system, a new system of weights and measures which became the metric system , and a new calendar.
Amid nostalgia for the ancient Roman Republic , the theories of the Enlightenment were at their peak, and the devisers of the new systems looked to nature for their inspiration. Natural constants, multiples of ten, and Latin as well as Ancient Greek derivations formed the fundamental blocks from which the new systems were built. As the rapporteur of the commission, Charles-Gilbert Romme presented the new calendar to the Jacobin -controlled National Convention on 23 September , which adopted it on 24 October and also extended it proleptically to its epoch of 22 September It is because of his position as rapporteur of the commission that the creation of the republican calendar is attributed to Romme.
Indeed, there was initially a debate as to whether the calendar should celebrate the Great Revolution, which began in July , or the Republic, which was established in It was in , with the practical problem of dating financial transactions, that the legislative assembly was confronted with the problem of the calendar.
Originally, the choice of epoch was either 1 January or 14 July After some hesitation the assembly decided on 2 January that all official documents would use the "era of Liberty" and that the year IV of Liberty started on 1 January This usage was modified on 22 September when the Republic was proclaimed and the Convention decided that all public documents would be dated Year I of the French Republic.
The decree of 2 January stipulated that the year II of the Republic began on 1 January ; this was revoked with the introduction of the new calendar, which set 22 September as the beginning of year II.
The establishment of the Republic was used as the epochal date for the calendar; therefore, the calendar commemorates the Republic, not the Revolution. French coins of the period naturally used this calendar.
Many show the year French: The Concordat of re-established the Roman Catholic Church as an official institution in France, although not as the state religion of France. The concordat took effect from Easter Sunday, 28 Germinal, Year XI 8 April ; it restored the names of the days of the week to the ones from the Gregorian Calendar , and fixed Sunday as the official day of rest and religious celebration.
As a result, Roman Numeral I indicates the first year of the republic, that is, the year before the calendar actually came into use.
By law, the beginning of each year was set at midnight, beginning on the day the apparent autumnal equinox falls at the Paris Observatory. The five or six extra days needed to approximate the solar or tropical year were placed after the months at the end of each year and called complementary days.
This arrangement was an almost exact copy of the calendar used by the Ancient Egyptians, though in their case the beginning of the year was marked by summer solstice rather than autumn equinox. A period of four years ending on a leap day was to be called a "Franciade". The name " Olympique " was originally proposed  but changed to Franciade to commemorate the fact that it had taken the revolution four years to establish a republican government in France.
French Republican calendar
Decimal time Each day in the Republican Calendar was divided into ten hours, each hour into decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into decimal seconds. Thus an hour was conventional minutes more than twice as long as a conventional hour , a minute was Clocks were manufactured to display this decimal time , but it did not catch on.
Mandatory use of decimal time was officially suspended 7 April , although some cities continued to use decimal time as late as Months[ edit ] The Republican calendar year began the day the autumnal equinox occurred in Paris, and had twelve months of 30 days each, which were given new names based on nature, principally having to do with the prevailing weather in and around Paris.
Most of the month names were new words coined from French, Latin , or Greek. The endings of the names are grouped by season. Like the French originals, they are neologisms suggesting a meaning related to the season.