Time to Take a Look at The Impact of The Russian Julian Calendar

Time to Take a Look at The Impact of The Russian Julian Calendar
22 August 2023

Despite Russia now using the Gregorian Calendar like the rest of the world, the Julian Calendar played a significant role in the history of Russia. It was only in 1918 that Lenin introduced a modified version of the Gregorian Calendar to Russia called the Soviet Calendar, which was implemented until 1940. However, the Julian Calendar is still used within the Russian Orthodox Church. In this article, you will learn about the history of the Julian calendar in Russia, and what impact it had in shaping Russian history.

Early Adoption

The Julian calendar was introduced in Rome by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE. However, its adoption in Russia came much later. Russia’s conversion to Christianity in the late 10th century (around 988 CE) brought about cultural and religious interactions with the Byzantine Empire, which already used the Julian calendar. 

Adoption of the Julian Calendar

The Julian calendar was gradually adopted in Russia over the following centuries, as the Byzantine influence expanded. The Russian Orthodox Church adopted the Julian calendar for liturgical and religious purposes. The calendar’s calculation of important Christian holidays, such as Easter, played a central role in the church’s traditions.

Julian Calendar in Modern Russia

Russia used the Julian Calendar even as the rest of Western Europe transitioned to the Gregorian calendar in the 1600s. By the 20th century, the Julian calendar had drifted significantly from the solar year. This caused the dates of holidays like Easter to diverge from those celebrated by Western Christian communities.

Russian Revolution and Calendar Reform

The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought about significant changes in the country, including in the calendar system. In 1918, the Soviet government introduced a series of reforms, including the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. The transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar involved skipping 13 days to align the Russian calendar with the Western one.

Calendar Change and Impact

The transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in Russia occurred in two steps: January 31, 1918, was followed by February 14, 1918, and the dates shifted accordingly. The change was met with resistance from some segments of society. This was because some people saw it as a break from religious traditions associated with the Julian calendar. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) continued to use the Julian calendar for liturgical purposes. This lead to the coexistence of both calendar systems among Russian Orthodox believers.

Contemporary Status

The Gregorian calendar is now the official civil calendar in Russia, as well as in most of the world. Some traditional and religious practices still follow the Julian calendar. This occurs particularly within the Russian Orthodox Church, which continues to calculate liturgical dates based on the Julian calendar.

In summary, the history of the Julian calendar in Russia is intertwined with the country’s religious and cultural developments. While the calendar’s adoption was influenced by its connection to the Byzantine Empire and the Russian Orthodox Church, the eventual transition to the Gregorian calendar marked a significant change that had both cultural and practical implications.

This blog was brought to you by Emily Gray, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz in Riga

This image was taken from Pexels

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