Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Does anybody really know what day it is?

Does anybody really know what day it is?

When the Gregorian calendar was adopted by Catholic countries, many holidays related to celestial events got stranded—so there was a 4 to 14-day lag between the old and the new calendar. All this fuss was spurred on as to when the Vernal Equinox actually was (the weather being what it was—unreliable), so one could calculate exactly when Easter fell.

Russia has even more date discrepancies as they had a different calendar yet. The October Revolution was not October 25 but Nov 7. (October 1917 Old Style Julian Calendar (O.S.), which corresponds with 7 November 1917 New Style (N.S.). Gregorian Calendar.) —Wiki 

The "Old Style" Julian calendar was still used for movable feasts (Easter)  in 1918. By then, the calends of  Russia & Greece were off by 13-14 days. Things you need to keep in mind when reading history!

The Julian calendar was a reboot of the Roman Calendar—which was way, way off by the time Caesar was waging war on the Celts and needed to check his day planner to see if it was summer yet. Summer was the traditional time to wage war—coinciding with the time the senate freed the annual warchest. 

So, when reading classical history, one has to keep in mind that all firm Roman dates are compared to the Julian calendar as compared to the Gregorian calendar...and so on.

An extra 11 minutes per year in the Julian calendar caused it to gain three days every four centuries so the observed equinoxes, solstices and seasons were also way off. Wrong time to party and pray serious stressed out the natives and clergy alike.

By 1582, the Julian calendar was off by 10 days, which threw Easter way off! 

Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring solstice (lunar calendar). The problem was, that no one really knew what day was actually Sunday, let alone, when the vernal Eqiunox was! So Easter was celebrated in May in Ireland, and as early as March 11 elsewhere—all in the same year!

The Gregorian (Christian) calendar system had to drop some calendar days in order to realign the calendar and the equinox times.

Because of the Protestant Reformation, many countries refused to switch to the Gregorian calendar until much later. Scotland: 1600, England 1752—so all those folk holidays we love—were also off. So you have to factor this info in with medieval folk holiday customs. 

In 1424 (guessing the date here—can't find ref, ) the English attempted to reboot the calendar and about 2 weeks were tossed out of September—causing rioting—not because people were suspicious, but because they were being short-changed—literally! They were paid by the day, but were charged rent by the month. Their landlords thought it was cool. And I'm sure they celebrated with libations.

Another huge roboot of the English calendar occurred in 1751—which was a very short year of 282 days, from 25 March (Lady Day) to 31 December. So if your birthday, or any other important annual event occurred from Jan. 1 to March 24 of 1751, you were out of luck. Or you gained a year.

The year 1752 began on a brand new date, with the new style calendar, on 1 January. It was reported that there were public riots after the massive calendar change, with peasants demanding that their "eleven days" be returned—but it is a story. (See the 1424 story, above). I'm sure there were plenty of irritated folks. But the sun and moon carried on, as always.

The Gregorian calendar isn't quite accurate either; it has to drop three extra leap year days every four centuries on top of the leap year every four years except during the 100 year marker. Got that?

Then there's the Hebrew calendar year which has never been rebooted as far as I know—it's longer by about 6 minutes a year, and so, after several millenia, is COMPLETELY off kilter....So if you're a Bible scholar, well, let's say, nobody really knows what day it is, and I can't even begin to fathom the workings of the Muslim calendar galloping off on a similar bent! 
 However, my friend Vins assures me that the intercalary month takes care of that pesky 13th moon.

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