New Years Can Make You Nuts

academia nut

Mac, the academia nut

by guest blogger, Mac

Happy 2013 in a few days to all!!  And a happy new year retroactively to those who might follow the Hebrew calendar whose year 5773 started on September 16, or the Muslim calendar which started year 1434 on November 14.  And a happy Year of the Snake this coming February 10 to those nut lovers in China.

Thinking about calendars, we’ve just figured out that one of our peanut farmer Presidents, George Washington, lived through a day of true nuttiness when he woke up on the morning of Thursday September 14, 1752.  Why?  Because when he had gone to bed the previous night, it had been Wednesday September 2, 1752, an 11 day difference overnight!

This happened because England and its colonies had finally decided to adopt the Gregorian calendar, which most of Europe had switched to in 1582. The old Julian calendar year was based on 365 and ¼ days, which turned out to be about 11 minutes too long, which over the years put the old calendar 10 days behind our true yearly cycle around the sun.  Pope Gregory’s people fixed this by skipping 10 calendar days and taking “leap days” out of future years that are divisible by 100, but leaving them in for those divisible by 400.  (Are you nuts yet?!?).  The British had to lose 11 days in 1752 because they had accumulated another extra day in 1700.

(This is the first of occasional posts by Mac, our resident history and esoteric nut. Mac asks lots of questions and has come to know that life has been nuts since the beginning of time. You have questions? Ask Mac.)

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