Each month was divided into three 10-day "decades," and each day into two sections of 10 hours each. The hour was further divided into 100 "decimal minutes," which were in turn divided into 100 "decimal seconds."
The year began on the autumnal equinox, which happened to be the anniversary of the foundation of the Republic. Each month was given a descriptive name, e.g., Thermidor, July 19-August 17, "month of heat." Each day was also given its own name, some of which were less inspired than others, e.g., Eggplant, Manure, Shovel, Gypsum, Billy Goat, Spinach, and Tunny Fish. Even the French couldn't seriously have felt these represented a significant advance over old faves like Maundy Thursday. Also, on a more practical front, who wants to work a ten-day week?
Nontheless the French public made a valiant effort to implement the new system, going so far as to manufacture watches with concentric 10- and 12-hour dials. But ultimately the task proved to be beyond them. In 1806, after 13 baffling years of missed dentist appointments and overdue library books, they abandoned the revolutionary calendar. This was the only known defeat of Progress in the modern era prior to the establishment of the Illinois General Assembly. Gives you pause, when you think about it.
November 18, 2011
"In 1793, in an effort to sweep away the superstitious associations of the old method of timekeeping (you know how revolutionaries are)..."
"... the French National Convention established a new calendar with 12 months of 30 days each, followed by five (six in leap years) 'complementary days,' which belonged to no month."