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Old vs. New Calendar?

hurrrah

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Why do you think that in the churches living according to the original calendar, there is no Christ?
 

hurrrah

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Yep? I suggested, if there is a choice
, to choose churches with an old calendar, he called it "keep a person from Christ" and "far greater problems". What conclusion can be drawn?
 

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I’m sorry, I don’t want to go through the entire 75 pages of comments.

Where is a good source for understanding the underlying contention?
 

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Which is the "original" calendar?
Neither. The First Ecumenical Council (and subsequent councils and squabbles) fixed the date of Pascha, which is to be set and proclaimed by the Alexandrian Church (they are New Calendar, BTW). However, numerous calendars remained in use—and in some places like OO continue to remain in use—because no standard calendar was ever accepted in any conciliar, canonical, and universal way that I'm aware of...except for the Gregorian, post-Schism.
 

hurrrah

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You're evading the question. Well, that's also the answer.
 

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I’m sorry, I don’t want to go through the entire 75 pages of comments.

Where is a good source for understanding the underlying contention?
As Bizzlebin mentioned, disagreements about calendars or marking time have been present throughout Christian history. Generally speaking though many used the Julian calendar, created in the 1st century BC, until the Catholic Church created a new calendar in the 16th century AD. At that point some switched over, while others slowly switched over in the following centuries, and the Orthodox either didn't care or (possibly) condemned the new calendar. Then in the 1920s some local Orthodox Churches switched from the old calendar to a new one. The old calendarists believed that this calendar change was one problem among others, including that those behind it wanted other modernizing reforms, and were pushing for closer relationships with those outside Orthodoxy (ecumenism). From that point forward there was so much stuff going on that it’d take many volumes to explain: who was in communion with whom, who this or that group thought had grace in their sacraments, how a group was condemned, how/why some Churches use the old calendar but are not ‘old calendarist,’ and all sorts of other politics and theology and regular folks just trying to be good Christians. Essentially old calendarists see new calendarism as (depending on who you ask) drifting away from, or outright betraying, tradition and the Church and Christ; and new calendarists look at the old calendarists as overreacting or worse
 

Dominika

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Anegdotes, but sad:
1. Christmas carol, originally "Cold night in December, for the feast of Nativity" (in Russian!), here version "Cold night in January, for the feast of Nativity":
2. Even from the same link (but it's common) - saying "Christmas year (counting it as January, not December, so e.g this time 2022)
 

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I’m sorry, I don’t want to go through the entire 75 pages of comments.

Where is a good source for understanding the underlying contention?
You're missing some good discussions.

A summary of the 20th-century history of the calendar question in Orthodoxy can be found here.
 

jd01

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CONTEXT NOTE: Seeing that the Great Calendar Controversy comes up so often in Faith Issues discussions, I have merged all the previous recurrences of this debate into this one master sticky thread in an effort to consolidate all past and future dialogues on this dispute. Please keep this thread focused on the substance of the Calendar Controversy in and of itself and discuss such connected but separate issues as relations between the Old Calendarist churches and the rest of the Orthodox world on other threads. Thank you.

- PeterTheAleut



Just being snoopy!
If the new calendar is more accurate and hence more useful why not use it?
 

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If the new calendar is more accurate and hence more useful why not use it?
Let me unpack that question.

First, you have to assume some level of accuracy is what is desired. There are more than a few schismatic and/or heretical factions (Byzantine and/or Slavic Protestant denominations, really) whose identity is wrapped up precisely in being *inaccurate*. That is, they do not want God's work to be known, either by science, or a clear view of current events, or the study of the ancient Fathers, or a united ecclesial witness, or much else. That is a blunt way to put it—and I have no intention of naming names here, just making the situation clear—but that's where it stands. So right away, you've got to be sure that general accuracy is what you want (and welcome to the forums, by the way—just be wary!).

Second, assuming you want accuracy, you have to define what you mean by accuracy. Accurate to the tropical year or the mean vernal equinox year? They are different. Accurate to the time of Jesus Christ or to now? They're also different—Earth's orbit changes, as does our planet's rotation. And then you've got the counterintuitive problem where you don't want the calendar to be *too* accurate. That is, it needs to be usable at the level of Eucharistic technology (at least farming, milling, fermentation, ovens, grafting, and a hundred other technologies that are perfectly feasible without computers), so the rules have to be relatively simple. Leap seconds are tough enough to do without computers, but think of how difficult it would be to coordinate leap milliseconds, if we accurately spaced the differing time throughout the year.

Third, none of this begins to touch on your qualifier of "useful". There are myriad concerns about consistency across the centuries. Granted, a lot of that can be overlooked—many saints are not commemorated on their day of death as it is, so the "lock-in" and historical importance of the current calendars is debatable. And on all the 3 most-used Christian calendars, spring is no longer March 25—it's shifted quite a bit. So the question of "useful" is perhaps even harder to answer than the question of accuracy, especially given the very loud denominations behind point #1 .

I was hoping to give you a short answer to your question, but, well, that *is* the short answer! :p
 

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Let me unpack that question.

First, you have to assume some level of accuracy is what is desired. There are more than a few schismatic and/or heretical factions (Byzantine and/or Slavic Protestant denominations, really) whose identity is wrapped up precisely in being *inaccurate*. That is, they do not want God's work to be known, either by science, or a clear view of current events, or the study of the ancient Fathers, or a united ecclesial witness, or much else. That is a blunt way to put it—and I have no intention of naming names here, just making the situation clear—but that's where it stands. So right away, you've got to be sure that general accuracy is what you want (and welcome to the forums, by the way—just be wary!).

Second, assuming you want accuracy, you have to define what you mean by accuracy. Accurate to the tropical year or the mean vernal equinox year? They are different. Accurate to the time of Jesus Christ or to now? They're also different—Earth's orbit changes, as does our planet's rotation. And then you've got the counterintuitive problem where you don't want the calendar to be *too* accurate. That is, it needs to be usable at the level of Eucharistic technology (at least farming, milling, fermentation, ovens, grafting, and a hundred other technologies that are perfectly feasible without computers), so the rules have to be relatively simple. Leap seconds are tough enough to do without computers, but think of how difficult it would be to coordinate leap milliseconds, if we accurately spaced the differing time throughout the year.

Third, none of this begins to touch on your qualifier of "useful". There are myriad concerns about consistency across the centuries. Granted, a lot of that can be overlooked—many saints are not commemorated on their day of death as it is, so the "lock-in" and historical importance of the current calendars is debatable. And on all the 3 most-used Christian calendars, spring is no longer March 25—it's shifted quite a bit. So the question of "useful" is perhaps even harder to answer than the question of accuracy, especially given the very loud denominations behind point #1 .

I was hoping to give you a short answer to your question, but, well, that *is* the short answer! :p
Problem is! Trying to use a scientific method to predict a living universe. People put such emphasis on math being perfect that they don't see a universe that doesn't fit into there equations. Its math that isn't perfect.
 

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If the new calendar is more accurate and hence more useful why not use it?
People who get bogged down in arguments comparing the supposed "accuracy" of the two seem to me to be missing the point, by which I mean no disrespect to you as one who is new to the calendar controversy. "More useful" depends not necessarily on "accuracy" but on what you want out of a calendar generally.

Quite simply, many Orthodox (myself included) reject the Revised Julian Calendar because it's not the calendar that was passed down to us from Roman/patristic times. In a liturgical context, connection to our forefathers through continuity in worship is far more important than mere astronomical accuracy. It unifies us not only today, but through the ages, aided by its cyclical nature which repeats every 532 years and is completely lacking in the new calendar. There are other differences which are often highlighted (and have been in this thread) and I don't want to understate their importance, but that continuity alone would suffice as a reason for traditionally-minded Orthodox Christians even absent the rest.

There's also the issue of how it came about, which has nothing to do with the new calendar per se but is still important to understand the resistance to it because it ushered in a period of often-bloody persecution against pious Orthodox clergy and laity whose only "crime" was continuing to practice the unaltered faith as it was passed down to them. The RJC was forced on the whole Church unilaterally by the Ecumenical Patriarchate under the highly-controversial Patriarch and known Freemason named Meletios, an act which was regarded by most jurisdictions as an empty papal pretension and ignored because even a perfectly good new calendar would need to be implemented by a pan-Orthodox council. He was chased out of Constantinople and made to resign after a fairly short tenure, but the division he caused was there to stay.

You'll often see anathemas against the Gregorian Calendar applied to the RJC, and that's because RJC was specifically devised in order to align much of our liturgical year with the GC and thus promote (or at the very least intentionally reopen the possibility of) concelebration with Roman Catholics and Protestants. That's where the problem of ecumenism comes in, which I won't go into any more than that because it'd add several paragraphs to what I'd hoped would be a short answer. Such hopes are always dashed quickly when talking about the calendar. 😅
 
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Fr. George

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Problem is! Trying to use a scientific method to predict a living universe. People put such emphasis on math being perfect that they don't see a universe that doesn't fit into there equations. Its math that isn't perfect.
People who get bogged down in arguments comparing the supposed "accuracy" of the two seem to me to be missing the point, by which I mean no disrespect to you as one who is new to the calendar controversy. "More useful" depends not necessarily on "accuracy" but on what you want out of a calendar generally.

Quite simply, many Orthodox (myself included) reject the Revised Julian Calendar because it's not the calendar that was passed down to us from Roman/patristic times. In a liturgical context, connection to our forefathers through continuity in worship is far more important than mere astronomical accuracy. It unifies us not only today, but through the ages, aided by its cyclical nature which repeats every 532 years and is completely lacking in the new calendar. There are other differences which are often highlighted (and have been in this thread) and I don't want to understate their importance, but that continuity alone would suffice as a reason for traditionally-minded Orthodox Christians even absent the rest.
For some reason known to Him, God fixed the cycle of His feasts to the observable solar cycle (with Pascha being the point: the solar date tethering a lunar calendar). The Julian Calendar is no more godly than the Gregorian or Revised Julian - none are God-given. But He tethered Pascha to the Vernal Equinox by setting it as the date of both the event and the annual commemoration. If we stay on the Julian, we mock that tethering, by using a fixed date for the Equinox that drifts further and further from the actual solar event (you know, the thing that pre-dates calendars). Dismissing "astronomical accuracy" doesn't work here - if we were astrologers, assuming that the fallen angels who accept worship can somehow alter our life course, it would be fair to dismiss. But the Lord of the heavens and the earth did, in fact, set a cycle based on our relationship with His created objects - the objects not conveying the meaning, but merely acting as the guideposts on the journey.

At various points, because our math (or maths) is imperfect, we need to re-tether our man-made calendar to the celestial cycle set in creation. If the Parousia doesn't come in the next couple hundred years, and if misguided people hold on to the Julian calendar for more generations, at some point they'll be setting Pascha at a date months out of step with what the Fathers celebrated - Fathers who could tell the approach of Pascha by observable phenomena on clear nights (unobstructed by confounded electrical lighting).
 

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For some reason known to Him, God fixed the cycle of His feasts to the observable solar cycle (with Pascha being the point: the solar date tethering a lunar calendar). The Julian Calendar is no more godly than the Gregorian or Revised Julian - none are God-given. But He tethered Pascha to the Vernal Equinox by setting it as the date of both the event and the annual commemoration. If we stay on the Julian, we mock that tethering, by using a fixed date for the Equinox that drifts further and further from the actual solar event (you know, the thing that pre-dates calendars). Dismissing "astronomical accuracy" doesn't work here - if we were astrologers, assuming that the fallen angels who accept worship can somehow alter our life course, it would be fair to dismiss. But the Lord of the heavens and the earth did, in fact, set a cycle based on our relationship with His created objects - the objects not conveying the meaning, but merely acting as the guideposts on the journey.

At various points, because our math (or maths) is imperfect, we need to re-tether our man-made calendar to the celestial cycle set in creation. If the Parousia doesn't come in the next couple hundred years, and if misguided people hold on to the Julian calendar for more generations, at some point they'll be setting Pascha at a date months out of step with what the Fathers celebrated - Fathers who could tell the approach of Pascha by observable phenomena on clear nights (unobstructed by confounded electrical lighting).
I haven't read through the whole thread, so forgive me if you've already answered this somewhere. Do you support adopting the Gregorian calendar in full, or a completely new calendar that resolves the inaccuracies of the Julian paschalion without adopting the Gregorian calendar?
 

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I haven't read through the whole thread, so forgive me if you've already answered this somewhere. Do you support adopting the Gregorian calendar in full, or a completely new calendar that resolves the inaccuracies of the Julian paschalion without adopting the Gregorian calendar?
The Revised Julian Calendar already solves half of the problem (that of the equinox drifting away from March 20th) without adopting the Gregorian Calendar (the two have different rules for leap years, so that the Revised Julian Calendar skips 7 leap years every 900 years, whereas the Gregorian Calendar skips 3 leap years every 400 years). What remains would be to update the lunar tables and then to get every church to agree to use the Revised Julian and the new lunar tables. Likely then, the solution would not be to adopt the Gregorian calendar.
 

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The Revised Julian Calendar already solves half of the problem (that of the equinox drifting away from March 20th) without adopting the Gregorian Calendar (the two have different rules for leap years, so that the Revised Julian Calendar skips 7 leap years every 900 years, whereas the Gregorian Calendar skips 3 leap years every 400 years). What remains would be to update the lunar tables and then to get every church to agree to use the Revised Julian and the new lunar tables. Likely then, the solution would not be to adopt the Gregorian calendar.
Is there a way to fix the RJC so that it doesn't lose Kyriopascha?
 

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The Revised Julian Calendar already solves half of the problem (that of the equinox drifting away from March 20th) without adopting the Gregorian Calendar (the two have different rules for leap years, so that the Revised Julian Calendar skips 7 leap years every 900 years, whereas the Gregorian Calendar skips 3 leap years every 400 years). What remains would be to update the lunar tables and then to get every church to agree to use the Revised Julian and the new lunar tables. Likely then, the solution would not be to adopt the Gregorian calendar.
On the RJC, "March 21" falls on April 3, a full 13-ish days after the true Equinox. The lunar tables issue is germane when Pascha is a week off from the RC date, but not when we have Pascha in late April / early May (which should never happen).

Is there a way to fix the RJC so that it doesn't lose Kyriopascha?
KyrioPascha only works if either (a) you stay Julian (which means in a few hundred years the descendents will be celebrating Pascha in the heat of Summer), or (b) if we update the reckoning so March 20/21 falls on the true Equinox again (instead of "Gregorian" April 3 as it falls right now, which is nearly 2 weeks after the observable Equinox).
 

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On the RJC, "March 21" falls on April 3, a full 13-ish days after the true Equinox. The lunar tables issue is germane when Pascha is a week off from the RC date, but not when we have Pascha in late April / early May (which should never happen).
Father, I think I was unclear in my post. Part of the motivation for the Revised Julian was to create a calendar on which the actual equinox would usually fall on March 21st and no later than March 21st. This has been accomplished simply by the adoption of the New Calendar (after all, today, the first Thursday of the Fast, is March 10th in the Patriarchal Hemerologion and not February 25th). What has been left unimplemented is the rest of the proposal, which was to fix the lunar tables and to begin reckoning the date of Pascha on the new calendar. As it stands, we still reckon the date of Pascha purely on the Julian Calendar with the old lunar tables.


Is there a way to fix the RJC so that it doesn't lose Kyriopascha?
Yes, implementing the full proposal instead of only part of it would fix this issue.
 
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Why is it so difficult to make the calendar fit what the Fathers intended by March 21: astronomical equinox. My priest was on Mt Athos visiting once and the monks following ancient tradition brought grapes to bless for Transfiguration. But due to the astronomical inaccuracies of the Julian calendar, the grapes were beginning to rot after already being ripe around 13 days prior.
 
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It is not very good tradition to follow the technical letter of the ecumenical councils but not the spirit. I think the when the fathers meant spring equinox, they really meant spring equinox.
I agree. It took Ecumenical Councils to discuss, implement, and affirm the use of a common calendar. It wasn't even on the agenda for the council in Crete in 2016.
 

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Or in the deep of winter for our southern hemisphere brothers.
If Jesus doesn't return for a few thousand years, they might actually have the vernal equinox on the actual southern vernal equinox!
 

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I agree. It took Ecumenical Councils to discuss, implement, and affirm the use of a common calendar. It wasn't even on the agenda for the council in Crete in 2016.
Minor correction, but the Ecumenical Councils did not create a common calendar. There was a push for a common celebration of Pascha—the details of which were not worked out until after Nicea. The Julian calendar is *not* Ecumenical in authority, and was certainly not "the" Patristic calendar—there wasn't one!
 
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Minor correction, but the Ecumenical Councils did not create a common calendar. There was a push for a common celebration of Pascha—the details of which were not worked out until after Nicea. The Julian calendar is *not* Ecumenical in authority, and was certainly not "the" Patristic calendar—there wasn't one!
You are correct.
 

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This is all so fascinating. I'm going to have to go back through and read all 75 pages and almost 20 years' worth of content. I can't remember if I contributed to the ongoing conversation or not, but I'll be back in approximately 17 hours.
 

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It is not very good tradition to follow the technical letter of the ecumenical councils but not the spirit. I think the when the fathers meant spring equinox, they really meant spring equinox.
The question is whom we set up as the arbiter of the "spirit" of the Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers in general. "Reading between the lines" always necessarily inserts the thoughts of the reader into the gaps. The very act of assuming we know what that spirit is, ie what the Fathers "really wanted", and placing that set of assumptions over what they actually wrote sets us up as the ultimate authority rather than the authors themselves.

Considering the dramatic intellectual decline that began in earnest in western Europe circa AD 1500 and has only accelerated and spread even into our ranks in recent centuries, it's difficult if not impossible to trust modern humans to know the will of God, even those wearing cassocks. Sure, there may be a few rare saintly minds who maintain an ancient phronema wholly unpoisoned by modernity, and the importance of the work they do locally can't be understated, but when it comes to wider Church decisions they're too often drowned out by the cacophony.

I don't think using the wrong calendar is going to send anyone to Hell, but making up new stuff as we go along puts us in danger of being wrong, no matter how certain we think we are. So what to do if we can't trust our fallen, degenerate selves? We have the texts and faith the Church Fathers passed on to us (traditio), and we can be sure they won't lead us astray if we follow them unaltered, for the basest folly of the Fathers is greater than the highest wisdom of modern man.
If Jesus doesn't return for a few thousand years, they might actually have the vernal equinox on the actual southern vernal equinox!
Based on the southward-shifting demographics of Christianity, both in numbers and how seriously the average Christian takes his faith, that seems rather fitting, if not prophetic. 😅
The Julian calendar is *not* Ecumenical in authority, and was certainly not "the" Patristic calendar—there wasn't one!
I think it's important to highlight the difference between Tradition and archaeologism here. Archaeologism is looking back at forms and uses that fell away and got lost to time, either to try and resurrect them or discredit the ones we have now as not unique. It's the same sort of argument Protestants often use to suggest that because there were other beliefs and practices in the early Church than what ultimately came out on top (Chalcedonian Christianity), that what we have now might be the wrong one and is not "the" Apostolic Church. Tradition concentrates not on the old for its own sake, but on what was actually passed down to us as the action of the Holy Spirit through the history of the Church, and it's that very continuity that gives us our Apostolicity.

You'll get no argument from me that the Julian Calendar is not Ecumenical in authority, and that as a logical consequence theoretically an Ecumenical Council could replace it, and if it happened that way and the whole Church was on board I'd (perhaps grudgingly) accept it. But just like the ancient heresies and rival religions got weeded out over the centuries, so did practices and uses of a non-dogmatic nature in favor of the ones that successfully got passed down to us, and in terms of the calendar that was most definitely the Julian. For that reason I find it perfectly fitting to refer to it as the Patristic calendar.
 

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I am part of a church that uses the Julian Calendar, and so I will use the Julian Calendar for the foreseeable future. If there is a solution implemented by a council that includes ALL Orthodox Churches, which fixes the lunar tables such that the Apostles Fast does not disappear on a late Pascha (and Kyriopascha could happen), I will accept that.
 

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Father, I think I was unclear in my post. Part of the motivation for the Revised Julian was to create a calendar on which the actual equinox would usually fall on March 21st and no later than March 21st. This has been accomplished simply by the adoption of the New Calendar (after all, today, the first Thursday of the Fast, is March 10th in the Patriarchal Hemerologion and not February 25th). What has been left unimplemented is the rest of the proposal, which was to fix the lunar tables and to begin reckoning the date of Pascha on the new calendar. As it stands, we still reckon the date of Pascha purely on the Julian Calendar with the old lunar tables.
We have to still follow the canons. So in essence, We are on the Jewish lunar calendar for pascha, (not the Julian) but use the revised julian calendar for everything else. This way way don't break the canons.
 

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I agree. It took Ecumenical Councils to discuss, implement, and affirm the use of a common calendar. It wasn't even on the agenda for the council in Crete in 2016.
It was supposed to be on the agenda in Crete - but taking the stance of "one delegation can veto anything," a couple of the churches using the Julian calendar said (even after 30+ years of preconciliar meetings to discuss and create the agenda, during which time they indicated a willingness to discuss it) that they would not be open to any discussion on the calendar, so it was removed.
 

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Minor correction, but the Ecumenical Councils did not create a common calendar. There was a push for a common celebration of Pascha—the details of which were not worked out until after Nicea. The Julian calendar is *not* Ecumenical in authority, and was certainly not "the" Patristic calendar—there wasn't one!
Exactly.
 
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