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And I thought a few hours of jet lag was bad.
January 30, 2005 6:47 AM   Subscribe

For 170 years, crossing the Channel from the UK to France would have brought you 11 days forward in time, and crossing back would have brought you 11 days earlier. Why? Because the Church of England wasn't about to adopt a new Calendar instituted by a Catholic pope. After all, if the old style was good enough for Caesar.... In fact, it took over 300 years for the new Gregorian Calendar to come into use throughout Europe, causing, no doubt, more than a few missed lunch dates as people forgot to convert between them as they traveled. There are, of course, many other calendars in use around the world, and no shortage of people suggesting that let's do the time warp again.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
(Inspired by seeing an example of the confusion this can cause, over at MoFi.)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:49 AM on January 30, 2005


11 days forward in time, and crossing back would have brought you 11 days earlier.

Is this like the cogsci puzzler "Next Wednesday's meeting has been moved forward 2 days. On what day is the meeting?"
posted by Laen at 7:00 AM on January 30, 2005


Great post! After clicking around the Wikipedia links, I was thrilled to find out that three times in history, there has been a February 30th. I'm astonished that people could fuck around with the calendar so much; would it even be possible today? Imagine how much would need to be changed.
posted by armoured-ant at 7:03 AM on January 30, 2005


Laen -- what's the puzzle? Is it just a question of whether "forward" means earlier or later?
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2005


Laen, I'm afraid it is for me. If the meeting's moved forward, it's on Friday, right? Is this just semantics?

Also, I wonder if Neal Stephenson dealt with this in his Baroque Cycle.
posted by alumshubby at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2005


A lot of my receipts from a recent trip to Thailand had the year as 2548 (due to the buddhist calendar). Freaked me out for a few seconds, initially.
posted by shoepal at 8:15 AM on January 30, 2005


Nice link. I was in grade school when I found out about this strain of history (kings and popes fighting over the counting of days...) and my teachers HATED me for it, since I could poke doubt into nearly any date they through out.

Still, my favorite calendar has always been the Tzolkin one.

After that, it'd have to be the French Revolutionary one. That took some serious balls to push through on the populace.
Or maybe it just took guillotines.
posted by Busithoth at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2005


I don't get it. The meeting's obviously on Monday, right?
posted by the wind at 9:54 AM on January 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


the wind,
what nebulawindphone said.
posted by Busithoth at 10:00 AM on January 30, 2005


Heh, ok yup, moving a date 'forward'. Be careful of that little ambiguity.

I had a boss who got real angry with me once because to me moving forward meant moving forward in time meaning Friday. His interpretation was moving something up the priority list as in 'bringing forward' meaning Monday.

As far as changing the calendar goes, ok sure but the chance was missed. It might have been possible between the end of WWII and the start of the computer age, maybe 1970? . It could still be done if you don't mind changing every computer program in existence. Cost: about a bazillion dollars.
posted by scheptech at 10:27 AM on January 30, 2005


"It might have been possible between the end of WWII and the start of the computer age, maybe 1970? . It could still be done if you don't mind changing every computer program in existence. Cost: about a bazillion dollars."

What about if everybody running Windows downloads all the appropriate date update patches for their Microsoft products? We can email them reminders by every day, complete with links for their credit card numbers!

Still, I think "Time Warp" calendar #1 is a great idea, though perhaps till those new program updates really catch on it should be an alternative calendar like the Jewish or Muslim ones. The years could be renumbered too, no more of that A.D. "Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ" stuff.

How about making the Year One the present 1969, and calling the new era A.N. for Anno Nixoni or whatever the proper Latin would be? (Yes, I am kidding about the last suggestion; everybody knows John Lennon was more important!)
posted by davy at 11:19 AM on January 30, 2005


Those interested in forgotten episodes of calendar reform might want to check out my post Why did the year 7208 have only three months?

And armoured-ant, thanks for the link; I did not know that in 1930 and 1931, the Soviet Union had a February 30.
posted by languagehat at 11:55 AM on January 30, 2005


would have brought you 11 days forward in time

In the context of a PERSON going forward 11 days in time, is it really ambiguous?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 1:51 PM on January 30, 2005


I failed my phd in English lit because of this.

Almost seriously.
posted by bardic at 4:47 PM on January 30, 2005


Also, Eastern Orthodox Christians still use the old calendar, as the new style is seen as Catholic and schismatic. This is sort of interesting and weird: you can meet people-- and right next door!-- for whom it's still January 18th.
posted by koeselitz at 10:05 AM on January 31, 2005


Here's a big, bad, everythingyoucouldeverpossiblywanttoknowaboutcalendars faq: Frequently Asked Questions about Calendars Version 2.7 Claus T√łndering
posted by grytpype at 8:01 PM on January 31, 2005


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