1752: The Year of the Missing 11 days

Monday, February 29, AD 2016

“It is pleasant for an old man to be able to go to bed on September 2, and not have to get up until September 14.”

Benjamin Franklin celebrating the elimination of 11 days in the switchover in 1752 from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar.

February 29, seems like an appropriate date to discuss the Gregorian Calendar.  The Julian Calendar, implemented by Julius Caesar, had been a striking advance for its day, placing the Roman calendar on a solar, rather than a lunar basis, and being only 11 minutes off in the length of the solar year, a strikingly accurate estimate for the time.  However, eleven minutes added up as the long centuries passed, and by the sixteenth century the calendar and the seasons were ten days out of whack, which was important to the Church in regard to the calculation of Easter.  The Gregorian Calendar implemented by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 eliminated ten days from the calendar and instituted the February 29 leap year, ever four years, to compensate for the extra six hours between 365 days and the solar year which adds up each year.  Three leap years are skipped every four centuries in years which are divisible by 100 but not divisible by 400.  The Gregorian Calendar is off by 26 seconds each year as to the length of the solar year which results in an extra day every 3,323 years.

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