Immediate effect of change to Gregorian calendar on date of Christmas

To this day, the Eastern Orthodox (and allied religions) still celebrate Christmas on January 7 in light of the effect of changing to the Gregorian calendar*.

I am curious to know if in the year of the change itself (e.g. 1582 for Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Poland), or more generally in the first few years after the change, there was any concern or reluctance in those states about the ‘new’ date of Jesus’ birthday. Even someone with minimal understanding of the calendar would realize that ‘December 25th’ was no longer December 25th.

Was this a problem? Just curious. Thanks!

*a spectacular article; the type that shows how amazing Wiki can be

There’s a very informative book called “The Calendar” by David Ewing Duncan that answers your question in detail.

The book explains how one of the major concerns of both the reformers and the resisters of reform was the risk of celebrating holy days at the wrong times.

When promulgating the Gregorian reform, the Catholic church used this argument as a reason why the change was necessary. Ironically, in previous generations (at a time, before the Reformation, when the Pope’s word would have been more widely influential), they had used the same argument as a reason to oppose reform.

Yes, but the holy day they were mostly concerned about was Easter.

People who cared about it were well aware that there is no reason to think that Jesus of Nazareth was born on or near 25 December. That date was chosen to celebrate his birth for comparatively trivial reasons, but not because it was thought to be the anniversary of his birth.

Easter, on the other hand, commemorates an event which the gospels place at passover time. So the timing of Easter had a signficance that the timing of Christmas didn’t.

Thank you both.

I wasn’t aware of this, and it explains a lot since, as far as I understand at least, the Gregorian calendar did a better job of synchronizing with Easter.

Not true. Although we now know they were likely wrong at least two or 3 early Christians calculated the day of Jesus birth to be Dec 25th: wiki "*However, in Chronographai, a reference work published in 221, Sextus Julius Africanus suggested that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox, popularizing the idea that Christ was born on December 25.[56][57] The equinox was March 25 on the Roman calendar, so this implied a birth in December.[58] De Pascha Computus, a calendar of feasts produced in 243, gives March 28 as the date of the nativity.[59] I…
Feast established

An early reference to the date of the nativity as December 25 is found in the Chronography of 354, an illuminated manuscript compiled in Rome in 354.[61] In the East, early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ as part of Epiphany (January 6), although this festival emphasized celebration of the baptism of Jesus.[62]*

Note that both Saturnalia and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti were NOT on Dec 25th (well- in most years, the calendar was pretty screwy for a while) they were on the Solstice, more or less (Saturnalia started on the 17th and ran until the 21st or even the 23rd).

Taht does depend, though, on the strength of Sextus Julius Africanus “suggestion” that the annunciation was on the spring equinox. Was there any foundation for this, other than that at the time it was considered to be the start of the yearly cycle, and the start of the year was the theologically fitting time for the start of the incarnation?

And, um, I’ve always understood that the Epiphany is celebrated when it is because it is about the right amount of time after the date when the Nativity is celebrated.

All the evidence shows that the young Christian church was extremely concerned about the date of Easter, debating it hotly, classifying Christian groups by reference to how they fixed Easter, even fighting about it. Christmas never attracts the same interest. The gosples themselves pay no attention to the date of the Nativity - although the details given are not supportive of a midwinter date - but they are specific about Easter.

The calendar reform was motivated by concerns about the date of Easter, not the date of Christmas. The latter was never a serious preoccupation of Christians compared to the former.

True, Easter was by far the more important holiday then. Fixing the date of Christmas wasn’t considered very important. Still, it was calculated by *some *to be Dec 25th.

Brother and SIL are Russian Orthodox. They find one advantage is that they can hit all the Roman “After Christmas” sales BEFORE Christmas. In respect for their faith, and to buy us some time, Wife suggested we follow their calendar.

In the first century AD, the solstice was on the 25th. Well, more or less – the solstice will always move back and forth between two days because the year is not an even number of days long.

The current calendar has the solstice on the 21/22 because the Gregorian reform moved the solstice back to where it was in 325 AD when the date of Easter was set at the Council of Nicaea.

Sol Invictus wasn’t popular in Rome until around AD274. Or so.

Mithraism was only popular in Rome from around AD200 until AD400.

In any case, *Dies Natalis Solis Invicti * was not very popular as a holiday: wiki "There was not a longstanding tradition of a festival for the sun on December 25. Only one, late source mentions a Natalis Invicti, “the birthday of the unconquered one.” on that day.[21] It is true that December 25 was the Roman date for the winter solstice,[22] with the first detectable lengthening of daylight hours, and in his Hymn to King Helios which was written in 362, the last pagan emperor, Julian, records a festival for Sol celebrated in late December, but his protestations that this festival was an ancient one do not ring true. There is no evidence that this festival was celebrated before the mid fourth century AD."

However- the calendars varied back in those days.

The people of Jesus’ time didn’t consider birthdays to be important, and rarely celebrated them. It was a couple of centuries before any real interest developed in celebrating Jesus’ birth. By then, nobody knew what Jesus’ birthday was, so various people set about trying to figure it out.

From what I’ve heard, the fact that the sheperds were near the city suggests that it was springtime.

The Calendar didn’t change - it was corrected.

December 25th is the first day of Christmas in BOTH eastern and western churches.

January 6th is the Epiphany and 12th day of Christmas. - Which is the focal point of Eastern celebration while the western churches have focused on the First day of Christmas.

Epiphany follows the 12 days of Christmas, as you’ll see if you count forward. Eastern churches which follow the Gregorian calendar celebrate Christmas on Dec 25 and Epiphany on Jan 6. Eastern churches which follow the Julian calendar celebrate Christmas on Jan 7 (= Dec 25 Julian) and Epiphany on Jan 19 (= Jan 6 Julian).

in the eastern churchs epiphany is a bit more important than christmas, but as mentioned above that falls on gregorian calendar jan 19th.

epiphany eve has nearly an identical service to christmas eve, the fasting and eve dinners are the same. the major difference is water blessing in the church usually followed by the priest coming by for home blessings.

the 13 days behind follow for all the stationary holydays; dormition, entrance to the temple, annunciation (sometimes this will clash with holy week and pascha, talk about a long and wild service) transfiguration, saints days etc.

as dropzone mentioned the sales are something that would be tough to give up, not to mention the 13 extra shopping days. it is rather nice to have a separate secular and sacred christmas.