Keeping track of time has always been tricky for our ancestors. With methods such as tally marks for predicting flooding of the Nile or the phases of the moon to predict seasonal migration and hunting expeditions, our ancestors took a while to perfect the best system to track time.
According to this post in the Britannica, Ceasar, based on the advice from Sosigenes, introduced the Egyptian solar calendar as the official time tracking method. Based on this calendar, the length of the solar year was 365 ¼ days. This was the birth of the Julian calendar. To make up for the extra ¼ day, an extra day would be added every 4 years. And that is how the leap year was introduced. However, things were not really as perfect as they all thought it would be.
The Roman Catholic Church continued to use the Julian Calendar after the fall of the Roman Empire. They did use this calendar to mark the start of Easter. This would be calculated depending on the spring equinox as Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon of the spring equinox. On further investigation, they found the main problem was in assuming that each year was made of 365 ¼ days. However, there are really 365.242199 days in a year! After every 129 years, the Julian calendar would be 1 day out of sync with the solar year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII revised the calendar and on Friday, October 15th 1582 the new Gregorian calendar was introduced. Some European countries – Denmark, Sweden, England were some of the last to adopt this calendar. England finally adopted it only in 1752 by when their calendar was 11 days out of sync with the rest of Europe.
All’s well that ends well – for England and its colonies Wednesday September 2nd 1752 was followed by Thursday 14th September 1752 and brought us all on the same page so to speak!! With all those dates and numbers spinning around, I leave you to guess how the shifting of calendars affects Christmas!
Today, December 25th is Christmas is most parts of the world. But did you know that parts of Eastern Europe, Africa and Middle East will actually celebrate it on January 7th!! Because they still use the Julian calendar to celebrate their traditional holidays!
Merry Christmas to all celebrating today and I will get to celebrate it again soon! Watch out for my next Travel Adventure with my dad – Invez T.!