*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 15th of October 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
But does it really matter what day it is?
Sure, we lived through 2020 when it became a running joke for news broadcasts to have to start by reminding us what day it was. And so we all got a little taste for the sometimes arbitrary nature of calendars. At the same time, let me tell you about how hot it is where I live in the middle of October.
For reals, it is hot and it makes me cranky. Because you shouldn’t have to wait until the cool of the evening to put up your Halloween decorations, but I digress.
At the same time- what day it is DOES matter. Try telling your spouse that the actual day of the anniversary doesn’t matter. Try telling your kids that they will get their presents sometime later in December. Try telling someone who has written over 800 shows based on the date. But we’ve talked about this before- the dates are not precise, especially all the dates that took place before 1582- because at one point everything changed. We’ve recognized it before, but we’re doing it again.
In 1582 Catholic Europe went to bed on October the 4th and woke up on this, the 15th of October. The Julian calendar was supplanted by the Gregorian calendar to make up for the 11-day discrepancy between the Calendars. Let’s break this down.
1. The change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian was not that big- the real change was from the old Lunar calendar to the newer Egyptian-inspired Solar Calendar (the story is that Cleopatra convinced Julius Caesar to make this change based on accurate seasonal change recorded using the Nile.
2. The Pope (Gregory XIII) was advised that the church would lose 11 days. So what days would the Pope cut for one year? He chose October because the Calendar of Saints used at that time had a minimal number of Saints in October, and being in the long season of Pentecost it would not hurt Advent, Easter, etc… Francis of Assisi was honored with a feast day on the 4th- so after that date, 11 days vanished.
3. IN the past on this show we’ve talked about how a number of countries- especially those in Protestant or Orthodox areas did not accept the change and looked suspiciously at (what looked like) a unilateral action by the Pope. It took Protestant Germans until 1699, England and the Colonies didn’t change until 1752 (leading to a problem celebrating Washington’s Birthday because he was technically born on February 11, but it has been observed on the 22nd- 11 days later). For some, it was vital that Easter be celebrated on the same day. For some, it was for business reasons (Saudi Arabia switched in 2017 amidst a budget crunch and saved companies some salary).
4. Lastly, yes- there are old dates and new dates and sometimes we make this distinction, but not usually. Did Luther nail the Theses on October 31st? Not according to our new calendar, but we don’t change our observances. Here on the Alamanac, the calendar is treated similar to how some churches use a lectionary (that is, weekly appointed readings). The lectionary protects you from a Pastor that only wants to preach from Paul, or the Old Testament, or just the Gospels. The lectionary has problems, but it gives us variety. And that’s what we do on this show- I try to use the Calendar to move around space and time so that you can get the biggest possible picture of the story of the people of God.
And as the people of God, we are unfortunately not all on the same calendar- but we got closer on this day in 1582, after a magical 11-night sleep, the new Gregorian calendar was first introduced.
The last word for today comes from Colossians 2:
16 So don’t let anyone judge you about eating or drinking or about a festival, a new moon observance, or sabbaths. 17 These religious practices are only a shadow of what was coming—the body that cast the shadow is Christ. 18 Don’t let anyone who wants to practice harsh self-denial and worship angels rob you of the prize. They go into detail about what they have seen in visions and have become unjustifiably arrogant by their selfish way of thinking. 19 They don’t stay connected to the head. The head nourishes and supports the whole body through the joints and ligaments, so the body grows with a growth that is from God.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 15th of October 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who dates everything before, or after, the Battle of Yavin. He is Christoper Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who does not worship Angels, especially after 6 straight years of sub .500 ball. I am Dan van Voorhis
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.