The Calendar That Stole 10 Days


If you think changing the clocks back and forth in the autumn and spring is a pain, pity our ancestors who had to deal with switching from the Julian to Gregorian calendar. They lost a full ten days. But the countries of the western world did not all switch to the new calendar on the same day. Catholic countries including Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland and parts of France made the switch first.

It would probably be unfair to say the switch killed Teresa of Avila in Spain, but she did succumb to illness late at night on the 4th October or in the early hours of the 15th in 1582. The 5th through the 14th didn’t happen that year. It took the world the guts of 300 years to make the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. It might be a coincidence that St. Teresa of Avila is the patron saint of headache sufferers, or it might not. Her feast day is celebrated on the 15th of October.

The calendar change was not particularly popular as it spread across Europe. The people of the UK were particularly annoyed. The calendar change was a hot issue in the 1754 election campaign, with opinions split on whether or not the UK should join in with most of Europe or go its own way. Eventually the decision was made to join Europe in using the Gregorian calendar. This resulted in rioting, as depicted in a painting by William Hogarth. Many believed that someone had stolen 11 days from them. But clearly the UK is now a modern nation with no such ridiculous misunderstandings or angry, uninformed outbursts. Seoucebabemor . While the Tories of 1754 may have fanned the flames of that odd misinterpretation of what it meant to share a common calendar with Europe, most of today’s British politicians know what day it is. Some now claim these calendar riots never happened, but it’s possible they are simply embarrassed.

The Gregorian calendar was not launched as any sort of plot for the Pope to control legislatures. The fact that Turkey was the last country to officially join in the Gregorian calendar in no way predicts the future of any other European ventures. Pope Gregory XIII was simply trying to correct a problem with the Julian calendar, which was a lunar calendar that miscalculated the precise amount of time in a year.

The Julian calendar had a leap year every four years, and that knocked the calendar dates for annual solar events such as the vernal equinox and the winter solstice out of synch with the actual events.