Author Topic: Switching Calendars  (Read 11528 times)

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Offline TheLionandTheEagle

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Switching Calendars
« on: October 14, 2015, 06:09:53 PM »
Did Nicholas give any thought (prior to the Revolution) to switching to the Gregorian calendar?  Or did that come out of left field after the abdication?

Do you think he would have switched at some point, had the Revolution not happened?

Offline Превед

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Re: Switching Calendars
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2015, 02:23:57 PM »
Did Nicholas give any thought (prior to the Revolution) to switching to the Gregorian calendar?
I've never seen any evidence that he did.

Quote
Do you think he would have switched at some point, had the Revolution not happened?
No. He was deeply conservative and didn't change things unless they were forced upon him.
Березы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и березы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline TheLionandTheEagle

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Re: Switching Calendars
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2015, 02:53:47 AM »
That's what I thought.  :) 

Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: Switching Calendars
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2015, 05:02:23 PM »
Did Nicholas give any thought (prior to the Revolution) to switching to the Gregorian calendar?  Or did that come out of left field after the abdication?

Do you think he would have switched at some point, had the Revolution not happened?

RE: Calendar change in Feb. 1918

Well, there is no need to speculate what the Imperial family’s reaction was to the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar by the Bolsheviks.

As their diary entries and letters from captivity demonstrate, their attitude to the change was negative.

In his diary entry for February 14/27, 1918, Tsar Nicholas II wrote:
“We learned that at the post office there has been received an order to change the style and make it match the foreign, counting from the 1st of February, i.e., today turns out to be already the 14th of February. There will be no end to the misunderstandings and confusion!”

Empress Alexandra Feodorovna wrote to A. A. Vyrubova, on Feb. 5/18, 1918:
 “We are still living according to the old calendar, but we will probably have to change. Only how will it be then with Lent and all the various services? I think that the common people will be terribly angry if, in doing so, two weeks of feast-days of the Saints are simply eliminated — that is why it was never done before.”

Grand Duchess Olga Nicholaevna, in her letter of Feb. 6/19, 1918, to her aunt, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, wrote:
“How dreary that they have changed the date [i.e., introduced the Gregorian calendar]. One doesn’t know what to do.”

In her diary entry for February 14/27, 1918, Empress Alexandra bluntly refers to the New Style calendar as “Bolshevik style”.

****************************

However, their reaction was not reactionary! The question was much more complex than just one of modernism vs. conservatism, or progress vs. tradition.

Recall that even in Western Europe the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII had not met with unanimous acceptance. The Roman Catholic countries adopted it soon after it was promulgated, but the Protestant nations of Northern Europe considered it a Papal innovation and only adopted it gradually, over the course of two centuries. Great Britain and her colonies (including America) switched to the Gregorian Calendar only in 1752.

When Tsar Peter the First initiated his many reforms, he introduced the calendar then in use in the Germanic countries of Northern Europe. Thus, beginning with the year 1700, the civil calendar in Russia was henceforth calculated from the birth of Christ, rather than from the creation of the world — as had been the custom in the Byzantine Empire.

The issue facing Tsar Nicholas II and the Imperial government was complex: whether to introduce the Gregorian Calendar for civil use only, or also to seek the Orthodox Church to accept the change likewise. The chances of the Russian Orthodox Church agreeing to adopt the Gregorian Calendar were nil. Nor could Tsar Nicholas II have compelled the Church to do so unilaterally. Several Pan-Orthodox Councils, beginning in 1583, had condemned the innovation and forbidden its use in church.

Most likely, had the Russian Empire continued in existence, the evolution of international relations and communications would have compelled it to eventually adopt the Gregorian Calendar for civil use. Church use is another matter. To this day the Russian Orthodox Church employs the Old Style.

Many Westerners are under the impression that most of the Orthodox Churches have adopted the Gregorian Calendar. But such is not the case. The majority of Orthodox Christians still adhere to the Old Style, ecclesiastical calendar. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church, several million Old Calendarists in Greece, Romania, and other lands, the monastic republic of Mount Athos, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, etc.

And bear in mind that the Orthodox Church does not consider it to be the Julian Calendar, but rather, her own Ecclesiastical Calendar — hallowed by many centuries of pious usage. The Byzantine scholars were not ignorant of the discrepancies in the Church’s calendar, but for the Church it was more important to retain the unbroken chain of fasts and feast-days, and to maintain church unity, than to be in sync with the sun. The Empress, in her letter cited above, expressed the crux of the matter — the liturgical aspect.

Had those Orthodox countries which eventually introduced the Gregorian Calendar adopted it for secular use only, it would not have been such a problem. After all, many religious groups prosper under the Gregorian Calendar, while retaining their own, separate religious calendar: the Jews, Armenians, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.

But the compulsory introduction of the Gregorian Calendar for ecclesiastical use (while retaining the traditional, ‘Julian’, reckoning for Pascha/Easter) has led to schism in the Orthodox Church, and, at times, liturgical anarchy. Consider two examples which are not merely theoretical; such incidents actually occur).

1) The Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is celebrated on June 29. From ancient times (400s AD), it has been preceded by a fast. The Apostles Fast (forgotten in the West) begins a week after Pentecost. Thus, in years when Orthodox Pascha falls early, the fast can be as long as 42 days. When Pascha is later in the spring, the fast can be as short as 8 days. But if the Gregorian Calendar is used, the feast itself can fall even before the beginning of the fast which is supposed to precede it — a liturgical absurdity.

2) Suppose a pious New-Style Orthodox Christian travels to the Holy Land in mid-December, thinking to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem. Upon arriving, he discovers that traditional Orthodox Christmas will not occur there until Jan. 7 NS / December 25 O.S. Not being able to remain in the Holy Land that long, he returns home. Meanwhile, New Style Christmas has already been celebrated in his homeland. Thus, he misses both Christmases. (The alternative would be to celebrate Christmas twice.) Either variant is liturgically untenable.

The irony of the Bolsheviks forcibly introducing the Gregorian Calendar into Russia is eloquently demonstrated by their insistence on celebrating their glorious “October Revolution” on… November 7th — which corresponds to the original Old Style date when it occurred in 1917! For them it was more important to maintain the unbroken link with that event, rather than to transfer the celebration to the proper New Style date in October. Saintly Patriarch Tikhon noted that fact in his report to the Soviet government in 1923 on why he and the Russian Church could not unilaterally adopt the Gregorian Calendar for liturgical use: "If you can be Old Style, why can't we?!"

Old Style Orthodox Christians simply relate to the two calendars differently. The Gregorian Calendar is like a modern digital wristwatch — rather more accurate, and more practical for everyday use. The traditional Orthodox ecclesiastical calendar is like a hand-crafted antique Swiss timepiece — an intricate and beautiful mechanism for regulating the liturgical year.

инок Николай

Offline edubs31

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Re: Switching Calendars
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2015, 08:05:48 PM »
I recall reading those letter/diaries where Nicholas's seemed almost amused and to be poking fun at the calendar switch. Perhaps thinking it preposterous but more a sign of the changing times and the radicalization of his country.

Of course keeping the old calendar for as long as Russia did was surely fodder for its critics, quick to lampoon the empire for being out of touch and (literally) out of date. A metaphor for his reign...outdated style calendar - outdated style of governing.
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline Clemence

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Re: Switching Calendars
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2017, 10:42:00 AM »
Quote
Many Westerners are under the impression that most of the Orthodox Churches have adopted the Gregorian Calendar. But such is not the case. The majority of Orthodox Christians still adhere to the Old Style, ecclesiastical calendar. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church, several million Old Calendarists in Greece, Romania, and other lands, the monastic republic of Mount Athos, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, etc.

I would think well under half a million people would be a more plausible number for Greece.
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Offline TimM

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Re: Switching Calendars
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2017, 11:26:25 AM »
And North Korea has gone and made their own calendar.  It starts in 1912, the year Kim Il-Sung, their "god" was born. 

The idea is that there was nothing before the Great Leader came along and made the world ::)