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From the old calendar to the new calendar


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#221 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 12:23 PM

I strongly suspect that the practice is fairly common of relating the feasts to the season at hand. Thus Russians bless grapes and other fruit at Transfiguration as harvest is beginning, flowers at Dormition, and candles at the Meeting of the Lord during the darkness of winter. This testifies that the liturgical calendar of Russia was developed in a climate where seasons are strongly marked.

Now this works very nicely where the climate is very similar and at the same time as in Canada. But what of even in Russia, in the Crimea or in its central eastern areas (eg Kazakhstan)? Likely the connection isn't broken but rather is just related to the actual season in a different manner. As was also likely by the way with the areas where the liturgical Calendar was developed in the first place, which is far less variable in climate than in northern areas.

In other words the Calendar has its own universal liturgical rhythm which people then in different locales within the Church tend to link to their own particular climate.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#222 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 12:34 PM

Here is a question though: What if our ecclesiastical calendar is actually a lunar calendar rather than a solar calendar? How might this impact how concerned we are for solar year exactness over various periods of time, and how we calculate that exactness?

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

Well, it is. That is, it is combination of a solar and a lunar calendar that is used to calculate Pascha. Unlike the Moslems, the Jewish calendar is basically lunisolar, adjusted with intercalary months and jubilees. God's people adjusted their calendar on a very regular basis to keep the lunar months aligned with the solar year. As Fr. Stephaons points out, Alexandria adjusted the Imperial year on a regular basis. But when the Empire basically collapsed things got "frozen in time" as it were. There was no longer a unified mechanism to adjust the calendar so it started going "off". The Hebrews thought it very important to maintain the seasonal relationships, their major festivals were based on the ripeness of the barley, the fruiting of the trees and of course, the equinox.

If God had wanted us to use a strictly Lunar calendar, we'd probably be Moslems.

#223 Father Stephanos

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 02:44 PM

Well, it is. That is, it is combination of a solar and a lunar calendar that is used to calculate Pascha. Unlike the Moslems, the Jewish calendar is basically lunisolar, adjusted with intercalary months and jubilees. God's people adjusted their calendar on a very regular basis to keep the lunar months aligned with the solar year. As Fr. Stephaons points out, Alexandria adjusted the Imperial year on a regular basis. But when the Empire basically collapsed things got "frozen in time" as it were. There was no longer a unified mechanism to adjust the calendar so it started going "off". The Hebrews thought it very important to maintain the seasonal relationships, their major festivals were based on the ripeness of the barley, the fruiting of the trees and of course, the equinox.


Dear Herman,

Thank you very much for your points.

For discussion purposes, what if the Patristic calendar is not really off in the long term, but only in the short term? What if our solar years start getting dramatically shorter? Let us say hypothetically, the earth's mass changes with enough other factors, perhaps including a change in the mass of the sun, to cause our orbit around the sun and our tropical year to shorten — how should we handle it? In other words, what if the yearly Gregorian calendar starts getting too long while overall our Patristic calendar starts becoming more accurate since it is currently out of sync?

As Herman mentioned, the Israelites employed intercalary months to help keep the lunar and solar cycles in sync and to allow for the ripeness of the barley, et cetera. They were not overly concerned with the lunar and solar calendars being in sync each and every year. My point is that for the Israelites, it was not such a big deal to have the lunar and solar cycles be off about 15 days or more, as their intercalary month was, if I remember correctly, 30 days.

The change in our Holy Orthodox Church's calendar was not done at a Holy Synod of the Ecumene. Because of some of the points I have mentioned above, I am of the opinion that perhaps there was/is not enough of an alleged deviation to have warranted a change to our ecclesiastical calendar in the way it was done in the 1920s. Perhaps, more prayer about the issue is still needed.

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

Edited by Father Stephanos, 13 August 2012 - 03:31 PM.
Reworded paragraph 2 to make it more concise and less confusing.


#224 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:13 AM

As Herman mentioned, the Israelites employed intercalary months to help keep the lunar and solar cycles in sync and to allow for the ripeness of the barley, et cetera. They were not overly concerned with the lunar and solar calendars being in sync each and every year. My point is that for the Israelites, it was not such a big deal to have the lunar and solar cycles be off about 15 days or more, as their intercalary month was, if I remember correctly, 30 days.


Father Stephanos did not address his question to me, but this is a public forum, so the board gets my answer anyhow.

Of course in a lunisolar calendar the calendar date on which the sun arrives at a fixed ecliptic longitude will vary by around 30 days, rather than occurring within a narrow range of 2-3 days. But a variable date is a very different thing from an inaccurate date.

I know of no historically attested Jewish lunar calendar which did not attempt to keep its lunar months reasonably synchronized with the moon's observed phases. (The 364-day calendar of Enoch/Jubilees was a solar calendar, so not relevant to this point). There is no precedent in Jewish history for having a lunar calendar that is systematically about 4 days behind the moon, so that, as Roger Bacon put it in the 13th century, "any boor can see the error in the sky." An approximate lunar calendar is one thing, but a willfully erroneous one, quite another.

For discussion purposes, what if the Patristic calendar is not really off in the long term, but only in the short term? What if our solar years start getting dramatically shorter? Let us say hypothetically, the earth's mass changes with enough other factors, perhaps including a change in the mass of the sun, to cause our orbit around the sun and our tropical year to shorten — how should we handle it? In other words, what if the yearly Gregorian calendar starts getting too long while overall our Patristic calendar starts becoming more accurate since it is currently out of sync?

As it happens, the average tropical year will over the next thousand years or so get shorter in terms of contemporaneous mean solar days, though it will get longer in terms of present-day atomic clock seconds. The average spring equinox year will get slightly longer over the next thousand years, but this will make the Gregorian calendar's implied solar year even more accurate for Easter purposes than it now is.


In any case, the answer is to set the calendar now to agree reasonably well with the present-day values of the astronomical facts that we want it to approximate, and to leave it to future generations to revise the calendar as is most convenient for them. For computing Easter this means we need a system with a reasonably accurate equinox and a reasonably accurate lunar month. The Julian calendar today, due to its accumulated errors, has neither. However, if the Julian calendar's equinox were moved forward by 13 days, and the age of its moon moved forward by 4 days, then the resulting neo-Julian calendar would be adequate for some centuries to come.

Edited by Timothy Phillips, 14 August 2012 - 01:18 AM.
clarification


#225 Matt Varley

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:03 PM

Antipodeans celebrating Pascha in September/October? As an Australian, this makes no sense to me at any level, most importantly as Pascha is at the liturgical centre of the whole year. It destroys the link with the Jewish Passover (Christ being our Passover, and all that that entails), and it would lead to an unacceptable dislocation with the feast's celebration in the northern hemisphere, which would be far, far more damaging than a mere 13 days' difference between the two calendars used at present. Even with the two calendars, the dates of movable feasts remain the same. As they should be.

Just because the ancients had little idea that there were habitable lands south of the equator whose seasons fell at opposite times of the year is not reason enough to suggest such a momentous change in the liturgical calendar. Christmas, and particularly, Theophany, in high summer are entirely normal for us here. Theophany is particularly appropriate as a summer feast. :-)


Olga, if you think about it, a southern hemisphere calendar couldn't just transpose Pascha and the moveable feasts. It would have to be an anti-calendar. Nativity of Christ on (southern hemisphere) December 25 (= northern hemisphere June 25) etc.

Then the question: "southern hemisphere Julian" or "southern hemisphere revised Julian"? Orthodox all over the world celebrating the fixed feasts on four separate occasions instead of the current two, and the moveable feasts on two separate occasions instead of the current one... there is little to recommend this idea.

#226 Olga

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 01:30 PM

.... which is why I commented on the futility of such a change, Matt. As you have correctly elaborated, it would be utter chaos, far greater than the 13-day gap between calendars that exists now.

#227 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:24 AM

[T]his year, the vernal equinox is on 20 March. The first full moon after is on 6 April. The first Sunday after that is 8 April but that falls within the Jewish Passover which is 6-14 April and we have to have Pascha after the Passover so the first Sunday after Passover is 15 April. So, not an artificial date.

This statement in post #50 above presupposes that the Julian Easter can never fall within these nine consecutive days:
14 Nisan by the Rabbinic calendar ("Passover" strictly so-called)
15-21 Nisan by the Rabbinic calendar (The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which all our modern calendars call "Passover")
22 Nisan by the Rabbinic calendar (The extra day added by some in the Diaspora).

That this presupposition is false is easily proved. In 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2011 Julian Easter fell on the 6th day of Unleavened Bread (20 Nisan) by the Rabbinic calendar.

As I and others have pointed out on this or related threads, the Julian paschalion is self-consistent and makes no reference to the Rabbinic calendar or to any other external calendrical system.

Edited by Timothy Phillips, 22 August 2012 - 12:37 AM.
clarity


#228 Timothy Phillips

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 09:31 PM


The question in mind is: Greece and others follow the new calender in calibrating the Nativity, but they calibrate the Easter according to the old calender. Is this wrong? why? in other words: Can we say this is a solution?
 

Those who "follow the new calendar" in your words use only the solar, and not the lunar, part of the Revised Julian Calendar.  This will eventually lead to anomalies such as the Julian Easter falling on Lammas Day.  Eventually the lunar computation will have to be made consistent with the solar.

 

Of course, the unrevised Julian calendar is not sustainably consistent with tradition either.  The computistical writers of the 3rd and 4th centuries were insistent that the Easter festival should never fall in the northern hemisphere's Winter season.  Eusebius went further, stating that the festival should also never fall in Summer of Fall, but only in the Spring.   The unrevised paschalion will eventually violate these traditional limits.

 

The more immediate problem with the old paschalion is that it thinks it knows better than the moon does where in the sky the moon should be. :)






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