I made my first visit to Russia in January of 1993. We left on January 3 and returned on January 12. That meant I was there for Christmas.
Let me explain.
In 1582, Pope Gregory and the First Council of Nicea decided to adjust the calendar to make Easter fall on the date agreed to by the church in 325. It is all pretty confusing, but in general the world has adopted the new calendar they came up with…the Gregorian one. The Russian Orthodox Church, however, still follows the older Julian calendar. That calendar was itself a reformation of the Roman calendar and was created by Julius Caesar himself. The Julian Calendar places Christmas Day on the Gregorian calendar’s January 7.While the Russians, and the rest of the world, follow the Gregorian calendar for business and shipping convenience, the church still abides by the church calendar. And it took a long time to get the whole world on board with the current calendar. Into the early 20th century, a few countries were still following the Julian calendar.
Considering the shifts of the calendar, dates and anniversaries are really pretty subjective. We decide a date is important and everyone agrees on it, but most of the time we don’t know if that date is the correct one or not. (Of course, I’m referring to early history dates, not your kid’s birthday or your wedding anniversary. Those dates are pretty firm and you’re on your own if you miss them.)
On New Year’s Day, I often hear people say that they hope this year is better than the last. It is as if things will miraculously change by themselves because we move from December 31 to January 1, an arbitrary designation on a calendar. I’m not saying I don’t join in on the celebrations. Well, I used to. My New Year’s Eves are a lot tamer than they used to be.
I guess my point is (I’m sure you were beginning to wonder) while January 1 is a great day to make a new beginning and to change something about yourself that you don’t like or to resolve to do something differently, if you fail two days later, it’s okay. You can make a new resolution. January 1 is just a date on the calendar. Don’t give up and feel like you have to wait until next year. No one knows what the “real” first day of the year is, anyway.
Happy New Year!.