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First off, I want to apologize to Impana Halgeri. She's my most reliable commenter/blog-reader and I promised I'd write her a post for her birthday a couple of days ago (unless she follows the Hindu calendar - then I've no clue when it is), something which I quite forgot to do (I wasn't being lazy, I swear!).

Now then, on to the post. On the subject of birthdays, I decided to make a blog post a couple of days ago about the Gregorian calendar (the one that we use as of right now) and how it's evolved since Greg came up with it. Greg, incidentally, was really Pope Gregory XIII (I know, lucky number thirteen, huh?). So anyway, up until Greg the (Possibly) Unlucky came up with his brilliant new calendar, all the Christian folks were using something called the Julian Calendar, which was invented by - you guessed it - Jules! Jules being Julius Caesar, that chap that Asterix and Obelix keep beating up. So anyway, Jules' calendar made the year 0.002% too long, and for some reason, this really annoyed the Church. Apparently, it was making the time that people celebrated Easter change marginally. Naturally, the Church felt it had to put a stop to this and in 1582, they decided that Greg ought to be the chap to fix it.

At first, only the Catholic countries - those countries that followed the teachings of the Pope - followed Greg's calendar, something which no doubt annoyed him no end - doing maths involving numbers as infinitesimally small as 0.002% cannot have been fun. Pretty soon though, all the other European countries began to follow Greg's calendar, because it made it more convenient for them to trade with the Catholic countries. The last country to adopt the calendar was Greece, in 1923, which just goes to show that Greece was pretty far behind the times - nearly 400 years behind the times.

Some of the changes introduced by the Gregorian calendar were originally proposed by some chap called  Aloysius Lilius, who is only in this post because his first name rhymes with his last name. His proposal contained many lines of witty and readable prose like this short extract:

"Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

Apart from being a brilliant cure for insomnia, Al's reforms also allowed the date of Easter, something which was apparently very important to the Church, to be calculated accurately. It also shortened the number of days in a year from 365.25 to the incredibly annoying 365.2425.

Greg's calendar turned out to be so good that we still use it today. If not for him (and Jules, of course, who deserves some amount of credit), we would have birthdays that fell on a different day each year. We would also never know quite when to begin the toasting and the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" because New Year would never be on quite the same day or the same time, either. So I suppose on the balance of it, we have quite a bit to thank old Greg for. No doubt Impana is already doing so - I'm sure she quite enjoys knowing when exactly her birthday falls. 


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