Latin America & Caribbean

Bolivia leader Morales wants to ditch Gregorian calendar

Aymara indigenous hold up their hands to receive the first rays of sunlight in a New Year's ritual in the ruins of the ancient city Tiwanaku, Bolivia, early Tuesday, June 21, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption Members of the Aymara indigenous group traditionally raise their hands to receive the first rays of sun on the morning of 21 June

Bolivian President Evo Morales has proposed that the Andean country switch back from the Gregorian calendar to the calendar previously used by its indigenous people.

During celebrations for the Aymara New Year, Mr Morales said that he found the Gregorian calendar "untidy".

He suggested that Bolivia "reclaim its ancestral calendar as part of the rebuilding of our identity".

Mr Morales is from the Aymara indigenous group.

It is not the first time the Bolivian government has suggested changes to the way time is measured.

Two years ago, the clock on the facade of the Congress in La Paz was reversed so that its hands turned left and the numbers were inverted to go from one to 12 anti-clockwise.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe Congress building is located in the historic centre of La Paz

The government dubbed it "clock of the south".

Year 5,524

On Tuesday, Mr Morales said the indigenous calendar, in which a year has 13 months of 28 days each, was much "tidier" than the Gregorian one, in which the length of the months can vary between 28 and 31 days.

The 21 of June, the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, is considered "day zero" in the indigenous calendar and marks the beginning of the new year.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Aymara new year is celebrated across Bolivia with people gathering before sunrise to welcome it in
Image copyright AP

On Tuesday, many Bolivians celebrated the arrival of the year 5,524.

The year is calculated by adding the number of years which have passed since the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492 to the 5,000 years indigenous people are estimated to have lived in the region.

President Morales declared 21 June a national holiday in 2010.

Traditionally, he sees in the new year at the archaeological ruins at Tiahuanaco, the site of a pre-Columbian fortress.

But due to knee surgery, this year the president held a ceremony at the presidential palace instead.

Related Topics

More on this story