The next time you feel compelled to study the history of the calendar, don’t. Instead, jump into a cold shower, or start doing your income tax in Roman numerals. Why clutter up your mind with embolismic years, the metanomic cycle, sansculottides, and intercalary days? And avoid those incendiary words “Julian” and “Gregorian” lest they plunge you into hopeless depression.
It all goes back to the fact that Pope Gregory wanted his name, and not Julian’s, on the calendar. So, Gregory made January 1 New Year’s Day, and promoted October, November, and December from the eighth, ninth, and tenth spots into the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth spots. He obviously did not know his Latin too well or he would have changed their names as well.
This change didn’t go over too successfully with some nations. In fact, England didn’t accept it until 1752. When they did make the change, the people lost 11 days. I mean, overnight the date jumped from September 2 to September 14! As a result, we’ve all been behind schedule ever since. Suppose you were planning to get married on September 10, or suppose the Rapture had been scheduled for September 13? That’s one for Hal Lindsey to think about while he is counting his royalties.
The French made even more of a mess out of the calendar. After the Revolution, they adopted a new kind of calendar that was a lulu. They planned 12 months of 30 days each, but the weeks were 10 days long. The extra five days were smuggled into September and called “Festival Days,” dedicated (I kid you not) to Virtue, Genius, Labor, Opinion, and Rewards. Fine way to spend a day off. Then they asked a famous poet to rename the months and give them some aesthetic value. He named them such things as Mist, Frost, Snow, Wind, Blossom, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more