Sunday, 27 April 2008

KPIΣTOΣ ANEΣTI

EASTER GREETINGS
to
All My Greek Friends
and Friends of Greece


I'm sure you know, but if you don't - and have ever wondered - the reason why the Greek (and Russian) Orthodox Church celebrates Easter at a different time to most of us, is because it still calculates the date of the festival using the Julian Calendar, while the rest of us determine the date of Easter using the Gregorian calendar.

The Julian calendar was designed by the astronomer Sosigenes and introduced in 46 BC, by the emperor Julius Caesar. It was this calendar that, for the first time, divided the year into 365 days grouped into 12 months and with an extra (leap year) day added to February every four years.

A reform of the Julian calendar was first proposed by the Calabrian doctor, Aloysius Lilius, and decreed under a papal bull issued by Pope Gregory XIII - after whom it was named - on 24 February 1582.

There are lots of fascinating facts about these two calendars and how and why they were devised and the curious might care to check out Wikipedia's entries on the Julian and the Gregorian calendars while the exceptionally curious will find even more about both - as well as calendars used in Aztec, Bahia, Egyptian, Hebrew, Indian, Islamic and a other cultures - at Calendopedia: The Encyclopedia of Calendars!

It's all a reminder, I suppose, of both how arbitrary are our notions of the passage of time and, of course, how utterly fleeting it is...

One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, yes, and don't forget to check out Buttons' thoughts on the subject...

Image: The Church of St John the Baptist, Pothia, Kalymnos, Greece
© Brian Sibley 2006

16 comments:

Boll Weavil said...

I maybe the only one of your readers to still use the Julian calendar (at least in my work)and regularly have to convert dates from it.It can be a little confusing. Its customary now to still recognise the old date but add the new date afterwards so we would write 20 January 1623-4 but file it only under the latest date.Told you it was confusing !

Brian Sibley said...

But, WHY??

Eudora said...

Yes, why?

Boll Weavil said...

why what ?

Brian Sibley said...

WHAT? Why do you use the Julian calendar?

Boll Weavil said...

Because we work largely with documents produced before 1752 when it was the only one in town.This is why we have to have an understanding of it and beable to translate it to the later one so it makes sense to people referencing those documents now.

Brian Sibley said...

Fascinating! Knowing your affection for Christmastide - are you ever tempted to celebrate it twice?

Eudora said...

I see, mister Weavil.. thank you.

P.D, Oh Mr Sibley. I'm so sorry, I didn't know that you put some comments in my blog. I promise that next time I will be informed by blogger. And I am looking for have a good translator in my blog... but I can't promise a really good translator.

Boll Weavil said...

...not even to get through all the versions of Christmas Carol I have ! I can't afford it !

Brian Sibley said...

Humbug!

Boll Weavil said...

Not just now thank you.I'm trying to cut down on thge amount of boiled sweets I eat.

Rena Fan said...

ALITHOS ANESTI!
According to the Greek Orthodox Religion, during the first 50 days after Easter Sunday, we are supposed to greet each other not by saying "Good morning" etc., but by saying "Christos Anesti" (i.e. "Christ has arisen") to which the other person is expected to answer: "Alithos anesti"! ("Indeed he has arisen"). Although no one does so for that long, the Greeks (even if they are not practising Christians) still greet each other this way for at least two weeks after Easter Sunday!!
A belated thanks for your Easter wish from a Greek friend!

Brian Sibley said...

RENA - A pleasure...

I visited your blog -- I'll spare you the hackneyed joke about it being "All Greek to me..." -- but it looks lively and fun...

If only I could read the Ελληνική γλώσσ! But I love the Ελληνικό πνεύμα!! :-)

Rena Fan said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Brian! I'm glad it looks lively and funny to someone who doesn't read Greek because it should be lively and funny: it is dedicated to the late Rena Vlachopoulou, a great Greek comedian and star of Greek film and stage musicals. I could describe her as a combination of Ethel Merman, Lucille Ball and Shirley MacLaine... A rare talent, indeed, but, alas, well-known only to Greeks!

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks for the explanation - I like the sound of Rena Vlachopoulou! My kind of gal!

Rena Fan said...

Well, for your reference, here are some samples from her '60s movies:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auX2zZUlibo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmGbMdHfSTk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoDt2cXY-gM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkHNLxqE28k&NR=1

You can only get a glimpse here, these extracts can't do full justice to the versatility of her talents (for example, she was the first Greek jazz singer in the 1940s and very few recordings have survived)... But at least you get some idea of what a gal she was in her forties!! Enjoy!