Happy Old New Year’s Eve

fireworksNo, I didn’t mess up on my blog queue. Today is the last day of 2019 – if you follow the Julian calendar. That is the one that was introduced to the world by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.

Tomorrow (my January 14) will be the Julian New Year which is also known as the Old New Year or the Orthodox New Year. Caesar’s calendar ruled for 16 centuries. The Christian Eastern Orthodox Church still follows the Julian calendar now, though most of the world has gone Gregorian.

All this calendar play is why six and a half million Britons went to bed on September 2, 1752, and woke 12 days later on September 14.

Another Christmas

Today is the celebration of Christmas in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, which was introduced by Julius Caesar and was widespread in the Western Christian world until the Gregorian calendar was introduced in the 16th century. Most of the world adopted the Gregorian calendar, and the Julian calendar fell out of favor, but the Orthodox Church still follows it. These days, the Julian calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar — in 2100 that will change, and it will be 14 days behind — so for now, Russian Christmas is celebrated on January 7th.

via The Writer’s Almanac   January 7, 2020

Happy New Year. Again.

Today is January 14, 2019, according to the Gregorian calendar that you are likely to use, but in the Julian calendar this is the start of a new year.

The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. The Gregorian January 14, 2019 is January 1 in the Julian calendar. So, today is the Julian New Year, also known as the Old New Year or the Orthodox New Year. The Christian Eastern Orthodox Church still uses the Julian calendar.

The Julian calendar was used worldwide for over 16 centuries. Not a bad run.

Another place that you will still see the Julian calendar used is with the dates of astronomical events that occurred before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582.

calendar1582

The date for the introduction of the Julian calendar was October 15, 1582 but, as you might guess, introducing a new calendar to the world could not really happen overnight. England kept the Julian calendar for another two centuries.

It was Pope Gregory who decreed that October 4, 1582 on the Julian calendar would be followed by October 15, 1582. That means that in 1582, there was no October 5 through 14. Strange days.

Calendars: Solar and Lunar

I do a lot of posts that touch upon the calendar – seasons, celebrations, holidays, the Moon, astronomical occurrences. Most of the time I am in “our calendar” – the Gregorian calendar. Today, it is the internationally accepted civil calendar and is also known as the “Western calendar” or “Christian calendar”. It was named after the man who first introduced it in February 1582: Pope Gregory XIII.

It is a solar calendar based on a 365-day common year divided into 12 months of irregular lengths. 11 months have either 30 or 31 days, while February has only 28 days during the common year. (Nearly every 4 years is a Leap Year, when one extra – or intercalary – day is added on 29 February.)

The Gregorian calendar reformed the Julian calendar because the Julian calendar introduced an error of 1 day every 128 years. The introduction of the Gregorian calendar allowed for a realignment with astronomical events like equinoxes and solstices.

However this switch from Julian to Gregorian probably was pretty odd to folks back in 1582 in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain where it was first adopted. This “Gregorian reform” meant a number of days had to be dropped. They dropped 10 days in October 1582. It changed the rules to determine the date of Easter, and for calculating Leap Years.

Still, the Gregorian calendar is not the only one.

The Hebrew calendar has months that change with the new Moon, and the full Moons fall in the middle of the month.

A solar year is about 11 days longer than twelve lunar months, so to keep holidays tied to their seasons, the Hebrew calendar occasionally repeats the month of Adar.

The Islāmic calendar is also lunar. The months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon, a few days after the New Moon.

Unlike the Gregorian and the Hebrew calendars, the Islāmic calendar has no leap days or leap months to stay in sync with the seasons, so Islāmic holidays occur approximately 11 days earlier each solar year.

The waxing crescent Moon
The waxing crescent Moon