Wednesday, September 2, 1752, was a wonderful day in the United Kingdom. The very next day was stated to be Thursday, September 14. It was Britain’s wonderful leap year onward; an alteration wanted after generations of erroneous calendars. Dilemma escalated. People allegedly outraged in the streets, and an activity identified as “Give us our eleven days” was produced. Some concerned that they had lost 11 days of their lives while some were furious that they suddenly lost nearly two weeks’ worth of paycheck and wanted a settlement. It’s an incredible narrative, but historians state it is somewhat hyperbolic.
Truth be told, the difficulty originated in 46 B.C. The solar year is not accurately 365 days, instead 365.2425 days, and the Romans had pointed out that their calendar got out of sync with the seasons and wanted to remedy it. Julius Caesar got his ideal astronomers to produce a calendar with leap years that resolved the issue permanently.
It was almost ideal. Almost. They got it incorrect by 11 minutes per year. In 128 years, that amounts to a day, and by the 16th century, this had compounded to nearly fourteen days of calendar drift. Pope Gregory XIII understood the issue and ultimately resolved the difficulty with an all-new leap year system in 1582. Today, we refer to it as the Gregorian calendar.
It functions like this: Every four years, we add another day on February 29. Nevertheless, the solar year runs 0.03 days slower. Every century this miscalculation amasses to 0.75 days, and we then skip a leap year to let the sun catch up with our calendar. This leaves a remainder of 0.25 days, which amounts to a full day in 400 years.
To review: Every four years, all of us add another day, apart from whole century years (e.g., 1800, 1900) when we don’t increase a day, except every fourth century (e.g., 1600, 2000, 2400) when we do add a day—got that? Good.
The Great Year
But wait, there is far more. Our calendar is finetuned towards the solar seasons, but the stars are around three seconds out of sync with the sun every year. That may not seem significant, but in 25,772 years, the stars move a full revolution. This is referred to as the Great Year, and there are facts that ancient peoples were actually conscious of this star drift. They created a Great Calendar containing not of 12 months but of 12 Ages corresponding to the star constellations of the Zodiac.
Each Age may last for about 2150 years and is branded following the constellation through which the sun travels. Based on the person you inquire, we are either in the Age of Pisces or the Age of Aquarius. Should you ever think about whence New Age hippies got their talking points, now you know?