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The Mystery Case of the Missing Days: 1582

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How weird would it be if you woke up this morning and found out today was 18th June? And then, everyone goes about like it’s normal?

Strangely enough, in October 1582, people slept on October 4th and woke up on October 15th.

It was discovered earlier that the Julian Calendar, established in 45 B.C., was 10 days behind the real seasons of the year. This happened because the Earth year is about 11 minutes short of the 365¼ days set by Julius Caesar. It’s really 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 46 seconds. If the drift kept up, Easter would eventually have been observed in the summer, and Christmas in the spring.

So, Pope Gregory XIII appointed a commission to tweak the Julian Calendar. After wrestling with various ideas for half a decade, the commission proposed eliminating three leap years in every 400 (years ending in 00, unless they are divisible by 400). But resetting the calendar so the equinox would come in late March needed a more drastic solution: 10 days would have to be skipped. This was to take place in October.

Just see some of the worries the people had:

  • Many people thought their lives were being shortened by 10 days: Laughing-Animated-Gif-11Bruh, when you die, you die.
  • The pious worried that the saints might not listen to prayers that came 10 days “later” than the traditional saints’ days:   What? Kevin-Hart-What-GIF*claps hands slowly, the corners of my lips drawn down and my bottom lip jutting forward* (I’m sure you can imagine this typical Nigerian condescending gesture).
  • People worried about their birthdays: Is this a valid point or nah? LOL
  • Rents, interest and wages had to be recalculated for a month that had a mere 21 days: Valid but still insert witty comment.

Many places did not adopt this till later, such as Britain which adopted theirs in September 1752 (Sept 2- Sept 14th). King Henry III of France made the change in December. Parts of the Low Countries jumped from Dec. 21, 1582, directly to Jan. 1, 1583, skipping Christmas. You could travel across a border and go backward or forward 10 days in time. Amazing!

Other work inspired by this is: Jared Cade’s Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days and the celebration of the Ten Days That Shook The World celebrated by the Soviet Union.

I know I know. Nerd

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Author: Adapuffpuff

I blog about Books and Buff Stuff.

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