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But this was making the year too great by 11 minutes and 10 seconds, which would amount to a day in about 130 years. The error, however, remained uncorrected till the latter part of the 16th century, when Pope Gregory XIII. interested himself in this matter on account of its intimate connexion with the festivals of the church. It appeared from the facts that were submitted to his Holiness, that the vernal equinox at this time bappened on the 11th of March, whereas it took place on the 21st of March in the year 325, when the Council of Nice was held. It was proposed to reduce the months to their former places, so that the vernal equinox should still happen on the 21st of March. The variation from this time amounted to about 10 days; and 10 days were accordingly to be suppressed, and actually were suppressed in the month of October, the day following the 4th, being called not the 5th, but the 15th. This correction took place in 1582, and was immediately adopted in all Catholic countries. The Julian intercalation of one day in four years was still retained ; and to prevent the like inconvenience occurring in future, it was provided, that when the error of 11 minutes and 10 seconds, according to the Julian mode of reckoning, amounted to an entire day, it should be suppressed. Now the error in question, as we have said, amounted to a day in about 130 years. But instead of suppressing a day every 130th year, whether common or leap year, it was thought preferable to make the correction in leap years only, thus leaving always 365 days at least in the year. Moreover, as the centurial years 1600, 1700, &c. would be leap years, and memorable years, it was wisely c'etermined, that the accumulated error of a day should be dropped in those years, by which they would be reduced to common years. Now the error of one day in 130 years is equivalent nearly to three days in 400 years. Thus by dropping a day every centurial year for three centurial years in succession, and retaining the 4th centurial year as a leap year, the desired effect would be produced, and the civil year would, by a very simple process, be made nearly equal to the tropical year, or year of the seasons. The very small error that still exists, will scarcely amount to a day in four thousand years.
This modification in the Julian Calendar, so simple in itself, and so obviously required, was reluctantly and tardily adopted by those states that did not acknowledge the authority of the Pope. The Reformation was now in its infancy, and every thing was viewed with jealousy that bore the sanction of the see of Rome. It was at length, however, introduced into the Protestant states of Germany in the year 1700 ; but it was not till hall a century afterward, that it found its way into England. The error now amounted to 11 days, a day being suppressed in Catholic countries in the year 1700, and there was 11 days' difference in dates between those who bad, and those who had not, adopted the Gregorian reformation. This is the foundation of what is called old and new style. According to an act
of Parliament, the 11 days' excess were suppressed in September, 1752. The day following the 2d, instead of being called the 3d, was reckoned the 14th.* By the same act the beginning of the year was transferred from the 25th of March to the beginning of January. A knowledge of this alteration is of great importance to the understanding of dates anterior to 1752, especially if they relate to events occurring between the 1st of January and the 25th of March. Washington, for instance, was born the 11th of February, 1731, according to the mode of reckoning in use at the time, but on the 22nd, 1732, according to the present improved Calendar. To prevent mistakes, both modes of dating are sometimes used with regard to events that happened before 1752. Thus Washington was born February 22
2 Before the time of Edward IV. there seems to have been three different modes of reckoning, so far as relates to the beginning of the year. With some it began at the Nativity, 25th of December, with others at the Circumcision, the 1st of January. In Scotland, from time immemorial, it hegan with the 25th of March. From about the year 1462, the custom of beginning the year at the Annunciation, 25th of March, seems to have been fully settled; and this manner of beginning the year was fixed by civil and ecclesiastical authority in the reign of Henry VIII. The above times refer apparently to epochs in the history of the Christian religion. But Julius Cæsar, at the time of the adoption of his Calendar, transferred the beginning of the year from the 1st of March to the 1st of January. It wa3 thought proper to begin the year as near as possible to the time when the sun begins to return, bringing with it the season of vegetation. It is to be recollected, moreover, that the precise time of our Saviour's birth is not known, and in this uncertainty, it was thought best to consider it as taking place on the 25th of December, for no other reason, than that this is the time when the light of the natural sun begins again to visit us.
It was the practice in England, in dating instruments, to refer to the accession of the reigning monarch, till the time of the Commonwealth, when the Puritans and Republicans made use of the Christian era, although chronologists are not agreed as to the precise year when our Lord was born. This custom, introduced during the time when there was no king in England, was found so convenient, that it has continued ever since.
Solar and Lunar Cycle. The ordinary civil year being 365 days, or nearly 6 hours less than the time of the sun's complete revolution in the ecliptic, it will be seen that upon the return of the 1st of January, or any other date, the sun has not
* Russia has not yet adopted the reformed Calendar, and a day having been suppressed in the year 1800, the difference amounts now to 12 days. This is to be borne in mind in all dater that come directly from that country, as those of memorable battles, treaties, &c.
returned to precisely the same point in the ecliptic. But after four years, when one day is added at the end of February, to make up for the deficiency of a common year, all this is very nearly compensated, and the sun returns to the same point in the ecliptic on the same day of the month and time of the day. This, however, will not happen on the same day of the week. But if we take such a number of years as will exactly contain four (the number after which the sun returns to the same point on the same day of the month), and seven (the number after which the same day of the week returns), we shall have a period or cycle after which the sun comes to the same point of the ecliptic on the same day of the month and of the week. This number is 28, and is called the solar cycle. The 1st year of the Christian era was the 10th of the solar cycle. Accordingly, if we add 9 to the current year (1830), and divide the sum (1839) by 28, we shall have, for a remainder, 19, which will be the solar cycle for the year 1830; that for 1831 will be 20, and so on.
The lunar cycle, in like manner, is the period after which the moon changes, fulls, quarters, &c. at the same date, that is, the same month, day of the month, and time of the day. There are 12 revolutions of the moon in a year, and 11 days over; after two years the excess will be 22 days, &c. In 19 years these excesses will amount to a certain number of months, without a l'emainder, so that after the lapse of such a period the moon returns to the same place, and all her phases occur at the same time as before. This is not strictly exact. The new and full moon happen in fact about an hour earlier, after the lapse of each cycle of 19 years, so that the error would amount to an entire day in about 311 years. This cycle is sometimes called the Golden Number, from its importance in regulating festivals depending on the moon. It is also called the Metonic cycle, from a Greek astronomer, Meton, who invented it 400 years before the Christian era. The 1st year of our era was the 2d of the lunar cycle. Accordingly, if we add 1 to the current year, and divide by 19, the remainder will be the year of the cycle. We thus find that 1830 is the 7th of the lunar cycle.
Is the excess above mentioned, or number of days over an entire month. Accordingly, if we multiply the number of the lunar cycle, less one, by 11, and divide by 30, the remainder will be the epact. Thus six times 11 are 66, from which if we deduct two intercalary months, of 30 days, the remainder will be 6, which is the epact for 1830.
Is a period of 15 years, returning like the other cycles. It was used formerly to regulate the payment of certain taxes. It is combined with
the other cycles in what is called the Julian Period, a cycle of 7980 years, invented by Julius Scaliger, and formed by multiplying together the three cycles above described.
Or Sunday letter, is that one of the seven first letters of the alphabet which falls on Sunday, the first day in the year being denoted by A, the second by B, and so on from week to week. In a common year of 365 days there are 52 weeks, and one day over; so that the year comes in and goes out on the same day of the week. The year 1829, for example, began on Thursday, and after 52 weeks were completed, there was one day left. It therefore ended on Thursday, and the present year, 1830, came in on Friday. Accordingly, calling Thursday, the first day of the year 1829, A, Friday would be B, Saturday C, and Sunday D. Thus D was the dominical letter for the year 1829; and as the year 1830 begins on Friday, calling this A, and Saturday B, and Sunday C, C is the dominical letter for 1830. By proceeding in a similar manner for 1831, we should find that B would be the dominical letter for this year. Thus we should fall back one letter every year, in common years of 365 days, and in leap year, when there are 52 weeks and 2 days over, we should fall back two letters, and there will be two dominical letters for the year, one till the end of February, and the preceding one for the rest of the year. If leap year begins on Sunday, it will end on Monday, and the next will begin on Tuesday, which being called A, according to the rule above given, Sunday will answer to F, and not G, as in a common year. Thus the order of the dominical letters is interrupted, and the series cannot return to its first state till after a number of years, in which 4 and 7 are contained without a fraction, that is, 28, after which the same days of any month return to the same days of the week.
The Dominical letters were introduced into the Calendar by the primitive Christians; and the seven first letters of the alphabet were set opposite the days of the year, to denote the days of the week, till about half a century ago, when the initial letters of the days of the week were used in their stead, except the Sunday letter, which is still sometimes retained.
III. HOLYDAYS OF THE CHURCH.
THE CHRISTIAN YEAR commences with the season of ADVENT, which embraces the four Sundays that immediately precede Christmas. These Sundays are intended to be observed, as a celebration of the general event of Christ's coming, or advent, and as a preparation for the great festival of
his birth. “ It is the peculiar computation of the Church,” says Wheatley, “ to begin her year, and to renew the annual course of her service, at this time of Advent, therein differing from all other accounts of time whatsoever. The reason of which is, because she does not number her days, or measure her seasons, so much by the motion of the sun, as by the course of our Saviour; beginning and counting on her year with him, who being the true Sun of Righteousness, began now to rise upon the world, and, as the Day-star on high, to enlighten them that sat in spiritual darkness.” The institution of this season of Advent is of very ancient date; there being proof that it was observed before the year 450.
CHRISTMAS Day follows the four Sundays in Advent, and is always commemorated on the 25th of December. It is not pretended that this is the exact date of our Saviour's birth, which it has been found impossible precisely to ascertain. It has been, however, from very early times, the established date of this festival in the Western Church. The derivation of Christmas is from the Latin Christi Missa, or Christ's Mass ; meaning the Mass or service which is performed this day in honor of Christ.
The Sunday after Christmas requires no explanation.
The CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIst is a feast observed on the eighth day after his birth-day, or Christmas ; that being the day on which, according to the Jewish law and custom, he was circumcised. This festival was originally called the Octave of Christmas. It falls on the first day of January.
The EPIPHANY signifies the appearance or manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, and is celebrated on the twelfth day after his birth, and of course on the sixth of January. It is also called Twelfth Day. The particular event commemorated on this day, is the visit of the eastern Magi to the child Jesus. After the Epiphany there come four, five, or six Sundays, according to the day in each year on which the moveable feast of Easter
SEPTUAGESIMA Sunday is the ninth Sunday before Easter, and the third before Lent, and is followed by Sexagesima and Quinquagesiina Sundays. The reason of their being designated by these Latin numerals, is, that the first Sunday in Lent, being forty days from Easter, was called Quadragesima, or the Fortieth, and the three Sundays preceding it were called from the nearest round numbers, Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima, or Fiftieth, Sixtieth, and Seventieth, reckoning backward from Easter.
Ash WEDNESDAY is the first day in Lent, and was anciently called Caput Jejunii, the Head of the Fast; or Dies Cinerum, the Day of Ashes. The first name was given to it, because it begins the great Christian fast, and the second, because it was an ancient custom for penitents to appear at church on that day, clothed in sackcloth and ashes. Lent