Saturday, February 24, 2007


Today is the birthday of the calendar as we know it today. The man who invented our modern day Gregorian calendar was none other than Pope Gregory VIII. This was a struggle of immense proportions: the final acceptance of which did not occur until 1923. And you thought things were difficult to gain acceptance today! The transformation of the calendar, producing our modern day Gregorian calendar came about with the aid of Jesuit priest/astronomer Christopher Clavius The reason for the reform is that the average length of the year in the Julian Calendar was too long, and the date of the actual Vernal Equinox had slowly slipped to March 10, whereas the calculation of the date of Easter still followed the traditional date of March 21.This was rectified by following the observations of Calvius and Johannes Kepler, and the calendar was changed when Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15, 1582. He issued the papal bull "Inter Gravissimas" to promulgate the new calendar on February 24, 1582. On October 15, 1582, this calendar replaced the Julian calendar, in use since 45 BC, and has become universally used today.
The switchover was bitterly opposed by much of the populace, who feared it was an attempt by landlords to cheat them out of a week and a half's rent. However, the Catholic countries of Spain, Portugal, Poland, and Italy complied. France, the Protestant Netherlands and various Catholic states in Germany and Switzerland (both countries were religiously split) followed suit within a year or two, and Hungary followed in 1587.Because of the Pope's decree, the reform of the Julian calendar came to be known as the Gregorian calendar. However, the rest of Europe did not follow suit for more than a century. The Protestant German countries adopted the Gregorian reform in 1700. By this time, the calendar trailed the seasons by 11 days. Great Britain (and its American colonies) finally followed suit in 1752, and Wednesday, September
2, 1752 was immediately followed by Thursday, September 14th 1752. And you thought times flies today! Well anyway, this traumatic change resulted in widespread riots with the populace demanding that the eleven days be given back! The Gregorian Calendar was not accepted in eastern Christendom for several hundred years, and then only as the civil calendar. The Gregorian Calendar was instituted in Russia by the communists in 1917, and the last Eastern Orthodox country to accept the calendar was Greece in 1923.While some Eastern Orthodox national churches have accepted the Gregorian Calendar dates for "fixed" feasts (feasts that occur on the same date every year), the dates of all movable feasts (such as Easter) are still calculated in the Eastern Orthodox Churches by reference to the Julian Calendar. So as you can see people were just as stubborn throughout the ages about change as anyone today. Well, today I make the great trade. My cousin Brian asked me last week about the portrait of my dad painted by the renowned painter Theodore Lukas who had been my father's art teacher. I told it had been damaged and needed serious restoration. He offered to trade me the damaged painting and to restore it, give me a computer enhanced copy so that I could have a new portrait made from our company's Rembrandt lab. The painting would require over a thousand dollars in repair and since I have never had the extra money to have it done, I thought I would do this to honor my father in a great way. That painting adorned the walls of my boyhood home all of my young life and to let it waste away unrepaired and unnoticed still after all these years was simply not right. I loved my dad. He was a most special man. His great heart was the most amazing ever. He was the kindest most loving father I could have ever had. This year he would have been one hundred years old-- my goodness, does that make me feel old!

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