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Talk:Julian and Gregorian Calendars

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When the Gregorian Calendar began, there were many people who wanted to go back and reinterpret all the previous dates into the new Gregorian Calendar system. You can see this even today in several websites about the Gregorian Calendar. This would remove any doubt due to the change over to the new calendar. Also, it would remove any lack of standartization, since the Gregorian Calendar did not start at the same time in every country. This is kind of like rewritting history to accomodate a new idea. 

But think what this would entail. Millions upon millions of old dates would have to be changed. Also, how would you ever document an old date. If the source gave a date in the Julian Calendar that now had to be reinterpreted into the Gregorian Calendar to a different date, can the source be used any more as the documentation for this new date?

For these problems and maybe others, I propose the following. If the date falls before Pope Gregory gives his decree on the Calendar in 1582, then the date is assumed as following the old Julian Calendar. If the date falls after Pope Gregory gives his decree on the Calendar and before it is adopted in a particular country, then write it as a double-year date. Ignore any days that might be skipped. For example 2 March 1699\1700. At the time it would be considered 1699 following the Julian Calendar, then in effect. But now it would be considered 1700 following the Gregorian Calendar now in effect. Finally, if the date falls after the Gregorian Calendar is adopted in that country, then the date is assumed as following the Gregorian Calendar.

To me this is the only reasonable way to handle all dates, those following the old Julian Calendar and those following the Gregorian Calendar. Please add comments. Sabwoo 02:19, 5 October 2012 (UTC)


It is unfortunate that Britain decided to change the start of the year from 25th March to 1st January at the same time as changing from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar because the two changes have become conflated, as in the contribtion above. 

There are  two completely separate issues. Pope Gregory made no change at all in the start of the year, he just continued using 1st January as in the Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 45bc and as used in Rome before that. 

But many countries used the Julian calendar for the length of a year but adopted their own start date for a year. Britain adopted 25th March in 1155ad and changed to 1st January in 1752 so double dating should apply from 1155 to 1752.  I suspect that many genealogists do not realise that a date written in January 1580 should be shown, logically, as 1580/81 just as much as one in 1585 should be 1585/86. It has nothing to do with whether a Julian or Gregorian calendar was in use.

This issue is particularly important when handling dates from 1538 when parish registers started in Britain.  It might also apply to wills and manorial, court and other records before 1538 but most of these used regnal dating where this issue does not arise. cbeobe 12 November 2014