5 October 1582

Something that I remem­ber hear­ing many years ago, either in a his­tory class or read­ing in Astronomical Algorithms, was that cen­turies ago — when the con­cept of the Leap Year was first cre­ated in the reformed Gregorian cal­en­dar — the pow­ers that be adjusted the cal­en­dar by a lit­tle over a week to make up for lost leap days.  Basically, they chopped a week out of the cal­en­dar to make hol­i­days and sea­sons cor­rectly align again.  The leap day was then insti­tuted so that such mas­sive cal­en­dar changes would not again be nec­es­sary.

A lot of folks were upset over this.  They thought the church and gov­ern­ment were rob­bing them of a week of their lives.  They would die a week sooner than they oth­er­wise would have.  People were a lit­tle more sim­ple back then and could not sep­a­rate the con­cepts of mea­sur­ing time (the cal­en­dar) and time itself (you’ll pass on when you pass on, regard­less of what church and state decide call that day).

The Panic Software blog has a good digres­sion over the mea­sure­ment of time, mainly focus­ing on the “blue moon.”  It turns out that most people’s con­cept of a blue moon is wrong: that it’s the sec­ond full moon in a month.  It’s actu­ally a bit more com­plex, being the third full moon in a four-full-moon-season.  Part of this digres­sion includes the sug­ges­tion “For ‘fun’, check out October 1582 in iCal.”  I do not use iCal, but BusyCal instead, although the net result is about the same:

This is the month in which cit­i­zens were short­changed 10 days.

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