431 Years Ago, There Was no October 7th!

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A Brief History

Due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, October 7th was skipped in Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain in 1582.

Digging Deeper

Our calendar has changed a number of times in history and with those changes came the skipping and in some cases outright elimination of certain days of the year.  October 7, 1582 was one such date that does not exist in several countries’ history.  The omission of this particular date came with one of history’s most significant updates to the calendar most widely used in the world today: the Gregorian calendar.

Prior to 1582, people in Europe and its colonies based their calendars on the Julian calendar introduced by Roman Dictator Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.  Over 1,500 years later, Christians sought to reform the calendar so as to prevent the celebration of one of their most sacred holidays (Easter) from shifting further away from the spring equinox.  The custom of celebrating Easter at this time of the year dates back to Antiquity when The First Council of Nicaea (held in 325 A.D.) had agreed that Easter should be a Spring holiday.   Yet, over the course of hundreds of years of following Julius Caesar’s calendar, the day for Easter gradually moved away from corresponding with the spring equinox for reasons to complex to get into for a brief article.

Therefore, to “correct” the Julian calendar’s from pushing Easter any further away from the desired time of celebration, Pope Gregory XIII followed up on a reform plan proposed back in 1563 at the Council of Trent (the church council that addressed various challenges of the Reformation).  The Pope’s commission that undertook the reforms decided to reduce the length of the year by 10 minutes 48 seconds per year.  The Pope also dropped 10 days so as to bring the calendar back into synchronization with the seasons.   Thus, when the new calendar was put in use, the last Julian calendar day Thursday, October 4, 1582 was followed by the first day of the Gregorian calendar: Friday, October 15, 1582.

As such, in those Catholic countries where Pope Gregory XIII’s calendar was first implemented, technically no one would celebrate a birthday for October 7, 1582 (in addition to the other nine now nonexistent days).  In fact, the days of the week you are currently experiencing were simply skipped over that year in several of the world’s most powerful countries!  Today, the Gregorian calendar is not just used in Catholic countries in Europe, but in countries all over the world in which people practice many diverse religions.  Naturally, this website also uses that calendar even if technically its implementation denies us the opportunity to ever write on an event occurring in certain Catholic countries on October 7, 1582.

Historical Evidence

Numerous books and articles have been written on this subject, but given that one book about today’s topic hailed as a best seller also has an attention grabbing title, a possible starting place for those curious about the changeover from Julian to Gregorian is Calendar: Humanity’s Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year.  If you are interested in the broader topic about diverse calendars and how people who use other calendars in addition to the Gregorian calendar bring in the new year, you may also enjoy this list.  I liked the list and must say that The Russian New Year looks a bit more fun than my usual new year…

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About Author

Dr. Zar

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history in Ohio.