The Gregorian calendar reform

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05. October 1582

In 1582, the pope Gregory introduced a new calendar with his bull "inter gravissimas", that was named after him - the Gregorian calendar.

The main modification of the new calendar was that the regular cycle of leap years was exactly divisible by four. In the previous Julian calendar, every fourth year was a leap year (instead of 365 days, it had 366). In the Gregorian calendar every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100; the centurial years that are exactly divisible by 400 are still leap years. For instance: 1600 and 2000 would be leap years, 1700, 1800 and 1900 would not.

This change made the calendar much more consistent with the tropical solar calendar and stopped the shifting of the spring equinox which was an important holiday for the church. To make the calendar more in accord with the history of the first centuries after Christ's birth, ten days of the year were left out. It was that particular change that created the most confusion amongst the people and gave rise to the expression "the church is stealing days".

At first, the calendar was only in effect in catholic countries, and in addition to the schism already there, it also created a time shift between the Lutherans and Catholics. The shift grew over time and during the XVI and XVII centuries it was 10 days, on the XVIII - 11 days, XIX - 12 days and by the XX century it had grown to a whole of 13 days.

The Catholic Polish-Lithuanian church was among the first to adopt the new calendar: in 1582, October 4 was followed by October 15. The new calendar came into use in Polish-Livonia as well and the Lutherans were forbade to celebrate their old holidays. This angered the townsfolk, who found their right of freedom of religion had been violated. They considered the new calendar to only concern matters of state and wished to continue their private lives based on the old calendar.

An especially great resistance to the new calendar was met in Riga, where even calendar burnings took place, and the Jesuits were driven out of the city. Nothing so drastic happened in Tartu or in the rest of Estonia, although some problems occurred. The calendar problem was resolved in 1625, when Sweden conquered Livonia and reestablished the old calendar. The superstitious Lutherans only dared to adopt the new calendar in the XVIII century. Due to Estonia falling under Russia's rule, the Gregorian calendar was only adopted in 1918, just prior to the proclamation of independence.


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