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THE MISSING YEAR OF OUR GERMAN FROM RUSSIA ANCESTORS

This missing year has to do with the Julian Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar and when the second was adopted in various parts of the world. To better understand here is a little review of the history of these calendars.

The Julian Calendar

Julius Caesar, following the advice of his astronomer and mathematician established a calendar in 45B.C. The Calendar is known as the Julian or Old Style (O.S.) calendar. It had three common years containing 365 days, and one year (leap year) containing 366 days (every fourth year). Under this calendar, the first day of the year was March 25th (often known as Annunciation Day or Feast of the Annunciation) and the last day of the year was March 24th. March was considered the first month. This twelve-month calendar is based on a topical solar year and served for many years in perpetual cycle, but it contained an error of intercalation amounting to eight days in a thousand years.

The Gregorian Calendar

Astronomers and mathematicians during the Middle Ages noted that the Julian calendar year was not completely accurate with matching the solar years. Church officials and scholars also noted these errors because church holidays did not occur in their appropriate seasons. After the unification of the Papacy in Rome, in the fifteenth century, Popes began to consider calendar reform. After several false starts, a commission under the leadership of the Jesuit mathematician and astronomer Christoph Clavius (1537-1612) succeeded.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII (1502-85), who was pope from 1572 to 1585, created a new, reformed calendar known as the Gregorian or New Style (N.S.) Calendar. It was adopted first in Roman Catholic countries and by Protestant countries during the eighteen-century (1700s), Russia being an exception.

Adoption of the New Style Calendar

England and its American colonies adopted the reformed Gregorian calendar in September 1752, September 2, became September 14. Also the year before 1751, the year began March 25th and ended on December 31, 1751.

Russia used the Julian Calendar until Lenin decreed that the Russian date, February 1, 1918 should become February 14, 1918 and that thereafter Russia would follow the western calendar.

Days had to be eliminated in order to make the adjustments because of the errors in the Julian calendar. In 1582 it was ten days in October. In 1752 eleven days were dropped. By the time Russia made the change in 1918 it was thirteen days. The calendar year now begins on January 1 and ends on December 31 rather than the year beginning and ending in March.

Double Dating

This system was used in older colonial records to clarify dates occurring between January 1 to March 24. Double dates were identified with a slash mark (/) representing Old and New Style calendars. A system that we should perhaps be using for our ancestors born in Russia before 1918.

If your Great-grandfather was born on January 15, 1881 in Russia (O.S. Calendar), you would double date that as January 15, 1881/1882. If your Great-grandmother was born March 30, 1883, her birthday would remain the same. Technically the day would also change but we only adjust the year (N.S. Calendar) with double dating. I have sometimes seen the day of the month changed, but not often, I think our ancestors preferred to keep the month and day of their birthday the same.

 

Helpful Calendar Web Sites

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Calendars All You Ever Wanted to Know About Calendars
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The 10,000-Year Calendar The 10,000-Year Calendar 
Cyndi's List: Calendars & Dates Cyndi's List: Calendars & Dates 

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