Tag Archives: british calendar act of 1751

When the year was only 282 days

Did you know?

Along with Netflix binge-watching, I am reading a lot. Here’s something I read that surprised and interested me.

There was a problem with the calendar in eighteenth century Britain since Britain and its possessions, including the American colonies, still used the old Julian calendar begun by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. Meanwhile, Europeans were using the newer Gregorian calendar introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

The problem with the Julian calendar was that it had an error built into it, resulting in a miscalculation of the solar year by eleven minutes. Not a critical error at the time, but it did result in a 1-day error every 128 years. Still not a critical error, but over two thousand years, Spring on the calendar was moving further and further away from the actual Spring equinox, thereby completely messing up the seasons.

That’s just for starters. Imagine the mess with legal, contractual, and other business matters if the parties were using different calendars.

Finally, pursuant to the British Calendar Act of 1751, Britain and its colonies made the Gregorian Correction in 1752. The Act directed that the day following Wednesday, September 2, would be Thursday, September 14, 1752. The Act also moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to January 1, shortening the year 1751 to only 282 days.

There is a myth that there was rioting over the lost 11 days. Imagine that happening in today’s world—mortgage and car payments are due but you’re missing 11 days of pay. Oh, dear. 

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