Daily TWiP Archives

Something interesting has happened on (just about) every day of the year, and Daily TWiP provides the proof. An offshoot of my local events column The Week in Preview (affectionately known as TWiP), Daily TWiP was published April 2008-Aug. 2011 and is still giving readers reasons to celebrate.

More in "Daily TWiP"

Daily TWiP – Oct. 6, 1582 does not happen in certain countries

Thanks to the switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, Oct. 6, 1582 technically never happened in Spain, Portugal, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or Italy. These four nations actually lost ten days, following up Thursday, Oct. 4 on the Julian calendar with Friday, Oct. 15 on the Gregorian calendar.

The aforementioned countries were the first to adopt the Gregorian calendar, which was the brainchild of the Catholic Church. At that time, the Church of Alexandria and the Church of Rome were calculating the date of Easter according to different calendars and thus celebrating the holiday on different dates. The natural drift of astronomical events like the equinox also contributed to the confusion.

The goal of the Catholic Church was to celebrate Easter at the time agreed upon at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which was the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. To accomplish this, the churches within the Catholic denomination needed to be using the same calendar.

The Gregorian calendar was essentially a reformed version of the Julian calendar, the main difference being the calculation of leap years. The Gregorian calendar has three less leap days during a 400-year period than the Julian calendar.

Although the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar, correcting it made it possible to reform the accompanying lunar calendar that was used to calculate the date of Easter. Finally, the Catholic Church hoped, everyone would be on the same page, including those in other Christian denominations.

It took several centuries. Since this was a decision made by the Catholic Church, the switch was only required in the Catholic Church and had to be approved by civic authorities in each country before it could be implemented outside the church.

Spain, Portugal, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Italy were predominantly Catholic countries, and were therefore the first to jump on the Gregorian bandwagon. Countries that were non-Christian or predominantly Protestant or Eastern Orthodox were not quite so enthusiastic, but ultimately followed suit. Greece, for example, finally adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1923.

Although the Gregorian calendar is now the international mainstay when it comes to business and civic life, many Eastern Orthodox nations maintain their own calendars for religious purposes, celebrating Easter according to their own calculations.

The Gregorian calendar may not have accomplished its goal of having all Christians celebrate Easter at the same time, but it definitely narrowed things down a bit. Two Easters are much less confusing than, say, 37.

– Teresa Santoski


Originally published Oct. 6, 2010.

Browse the compendium

Compendium (noun): a summary or abridgment.

Click the icons to the right to check out a sampling of my work.