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What Happened to the Calendar in October 1582?

The Gregorian calendar is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who drastically altered the Julian calendar for October 1852.
Pope Gregory XIII declared that 10 days were to be removed from the calendar in October 1582.
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  • Written By: L. S. Wynn
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
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A year is not an arbitrary period of time, it is an astronomic reality insofar as it represents the time it takes for the earth to orbit around the sun. A good calendar therefore, needs to match this period of time. It takes 365.242 days for the earth to complete the trip. Instead of adding .242 of a day (5 hours 48 minutes and 30 seconds) to a 365-day year the leap-year system was devised. Every four years an extra day was added to the 365 days in the regular calendar thereby creating 366-day years. This system is relatively accurate, but .242 is not exactly the .250 of a day that it needs to be for the leap-day to work perfectly. Over the centuries the .008 of a day (11 minutes 30 seconds) began to accumulate.

The continuing accumulation caused by the inaccuracies of the Julian calendar came to an end in 1582. Pope Gregory XIII stated that 10 days in October were to be removed from the calendar. Specifically, he struck the 5th through 14th from the month which created a very bizarre October 1582. You can imagine what people's schedule's looked like during that month:

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October 1582

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat
 

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Pope Gregory XIII, whom the modern calendar is named after (Gregorian), also established a system to prevent the accumulation from developing all over again. Every four years divisible by four would continue to be a leap year, but years divisible by 100 would not, unless they are also divisible by 400. The year 2000 was one of these special years that comes once every four centuries. 2000 is divisible by 100 but also divisible by 400 and therefore it is designated as a leap year.

The new Gregorian Calendar is far superior to the inaccurate Julian Calendar that it replaced, but it still not perfect. There are still minuscule accumulations of time and in thousands of years, another correction may have to be enacted.

Perhaps the most interesting event of 1582 (aside from the calendar change), is that William Shakespeare (at age 18) got married to Anne Hathaway in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Discuss this Article

anon142224
Post 4

St. Teresa of Avila, one of the "Doctors" ("great thinkers" ) of the Roman Catholic Church died on October 4, 1582, and was buried the next day: October 15th!

anon117778
Post 3

anon4742, I like your style. Reminiscent of Graham Swift in his novel 'Waterland'.

IrionL
Post 2

But not in England! I think you'll find that it wasn't until 1752 that Great Britain recognized the Gregorian calendar. Consequently, in the records of Great Britain's American colonies that a few years later would become the United States, September 2nd, 1752, is followed by September 14th.

anon4742
Post 1

But note that Gregory's decree only took effect in countries that gave allegiance to him. Many Protestant states didn't go Gregorian until the 1700s, including Britain and her American colonies in September 1752.

Russia never did implement it. The People's Commissars did in February 1918, but the Red Army had to enforce it as the USSR was formed. And that, children, is why the October Revolution is also known as the November Revolution. According to the tsar Julian's calendar, it was October, but in the rest of the world, and for the Commissars and Soviets, it was November.

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