06 January 2011

Russia's Lost Days

The predominant religion in Russia is Eastern Orthodox Christianity.  The Orthodox Christian Christmas day is 7 January, as opposed to 25 December on Western calendars.

Julius Caesar Says Christmas is on 7 January

The date drift has to do with a certain Pope's interest in astrology.  Pope Gregory XIII noticed that the Julian calendar was slightly longer than the Earth's complete rotation around the sun.  The Julian calendar ascribes 365 days to a year with a leap year every four years, thereby making the Julian year the equivalent to 365.25 years.  In fact, the Earth only takes 365.2422 days to rotate around the sun; basically, the actual year is approximately 11 minutes and 14 seconds shorter than what the Julian calendar described.

Pope Gregory XIII Says Keep Better Time!

Big deal, you might say, but over long periods of time, those fractions of days add to many days.  Pope Gregory decided that every 400 years should be shortened by 3 days, thus giving birth to the Gregorian calendar.  Under the Gregorian calendar, a system was devised such that years divisible by 100 are not leap years - although they are divisible by 4, - except if the year is also divisible by 400.  In other words, years 2100, 2200, and 2300 are not leap years while years 2000 and 2400 are.

The consequence, of course, is that in 2100, the Eastern Orthodox Christmas will be on 8 January, shifting yet another day as the Julian calendar "clocks too fast" for Earth's rotation around the Sun.  Another consequence, if you connect the dots, is that in 2200, the Eastern Orthodox Christmas will slip by another day to 9 January.  Keep connecting the dots and an interesting problem appears some 6,989 years into the future (I like to think ahead).  In year 9000 AD, the Eastern Orthodox Christmas will be on 29 February as it is expected to be on the Julian calendar.  The problem is that on the Gregorian calendar, year 9000 will not be a leap year and therefore 29 February will "not exist."

Year 9000:  Christmas in Doubt

So, in some 7,000 years from now, Russia will experience a lost day of sort; but somehow, if we still exist and have working civilizations, I am certain that we will be able to overcome this obstacle probably through an Eastern Orthodox Church decree.  Russia's bigger problem is the lost days that it is having in 2011, had in 2010, and will have in 2012.

Russia, as a country, shuts down from 1 January through 10 January of every year to observe the winter holiday season, but keeps humming along while more than half of the world's economy takes break from 24 through 31 December.  In this sense, Russia loses quite a bit of productivity from 24 December through 10 January every year, first because it operates when a good chunk of its trading partners do not and, vice versa, it ceases to operate when a good chunk of its trading partners come back fresh from the winter holidays.  Indeed, Russia loses some 18 days a year, or 5% of its calendar days, because of some strangely planned winter holiday season.

In his book titled Diplomacy, Henry Kissinger states that France, while being part of the West, defines itself in opposition to everyone else in the West.  My fear is that Russia, due to its Soviet Legacy, continues to define itself in opposition to the West, damn be the consequences.

In Russia, We Do Things OUR Way

Russia's lost days are a loss for Russia.  May I propose a new winter holiday season, starting 25 December through 1 January, and another holiday to celebrate the Eastern Orthodox Christmas on 7 January (until we will need to shift it to a day later sometimes in the future)? 


  1. Its' a valid concern but unless The Church can be pursuaded to adopt Gregorian calendar, things are going to remain this way.

    Has anyone ever succeeded in pursuading The Church to do anything?

  2. btw, the priests on this picture are (most probably) Eastern Orthodox greeks, and they also use 25 Dec. to celebrate Christmas


  3. Yes you may propose the extra holiday. Because in actual fact those days 1st Jan to 10th Jan people outside Russia although are back sitting at their desks (by the way their bosses are still on holiday during this time) tend to still be in holiday mode and productivity tends to be sluggish so Russia isnt' losing a great deal and besides money isn't everything.

    Also I have heard it said lots that Christ was actually born on the 7th Jan not the 25th December and it was Constantine that changed the Roman Christians Christmas day from 7th Jan to 25th Dec and this is why Russia has it's holiday season during this period. So it's us (the not Russians) that have a strange winter holiday season. Good for Russia I hope they keep on doing what their doing and stand up for for what they believe in.