Is it true that in the late 1800's they took away or added 11 days to the calendar that didn't exist?
Asked by: Cari Dawn
Even your grandfather can't be old enough to remember when 10 days were removed from
our calendar! This happened in 1582 A.D. when the current Gregorian calendar we now
use was established. At that time, in order to make up for inaccuracies in earlier
calendars, Pope Gregory XIII decreed that 10 days would be 'lost' when the new calendar went
into effect. This upset quite a few people at the time, who protested 'Give us back our 10
In order to accommodate the fact that one year does not have an exact number of full
days in it, a leap day is added every 4 years to try to keep things synchronized. That trick
helps, but still leads to minor errors that must be further corrected by SKIPPING leap day 3
times every 400 years. In the Gregorian calendar, this is done by NOT having a leap day on
years ending in 00 when the first two digits are NOT divisible by 4. The years 1700, 1800,
and 1900, for example, were NOT leap years because 17, 18, and 19 are not divisible by 4.
The year 2000 IS a leap year because 20 IS divisible by 4.
Answered by: Paul Walorski, B.A. Physics, Part-time Physics Instructor
There's a bit more to the story. Since Pope Gregory's decree occurred
after the Protestant Reformation, the Great Schism (Eastern Orthodox) and
formation of the East Anglican Church of England, not everybody changed
their calendars at the same time. Czarist Russia never did, so their
change didn't occur until after the revolution of 1917. For a long while
it was possible to 'time travel' in Europe, going from one village to
another where it was 10 (and later 11) days earlier or later.
Answered by: Tom Swanson, PhD. Physics, Oregon State U.
'One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - and yet it is the most precious thing we have.'