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TIME AND SPACE
ABBREVIATIONS
Christian Calendar
 
In the Christian chronological system the years are distinguished by cardinal numbers before or after the birth of Christ, the period being denoted by the letters BC (Before Christ) or, more rarely, AC (Ante Christum), and AD (Anno Domini – In the Year of Our Lord); BCE (Before the Christian Era) and CE (Christian Era) are now sometimes used instead of BC and AD. The correlative dates of the epoch are the fourth year of the 194th Olympiad, the 753rd year from the foundation of Rome, AM 3761 in Jewish chronology, and the 4,714th year of the Julian period.
The system was introduced into Italy in the sixth century. Though first used in France in the seventh century, it was not universally established there until about the eighth century. It has been said that the system was introduced into England by St Augustine (AD 596), but it was probably not generally used until some centuries later. It was ordered to be used by the bishops at the Council of Chelsea (AD 816).
THE JULIAN CALENDAR
In the Julian calendar (adopted by the Roman Empire in 45 BC) all the centennial years were leap years, and for this reason towards the close of the 16th century there was a difference of ten days between the tropical and calendar years; the equinox fell on 11 March of the calendar, whereas at the time of the Council of Nicaea (AD 325), it had fallen on 21 March. In 1582 Pope Gregory ordained that 5 October should be called 15 October and that of the end-century years only the fourth should be a leap year.
THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR
The Gregorian calendar was adopted by Italy, France, Spain and Portugal in 1582, by Prussia, the Roman Catholic German states, Switzerland, Holland and Flanders on 1 January 1583, by Poland in 1586, Hungary in 1587, the Protestant German and Netherland states and Denmark in 1700, and by Great Britain and its Dominions (including the North American colonies) in 1752, by the omission of 11 days (3 September being reckoned as 14 September). Sweden omitted the leap day in 1700 but observed leap days in 1704 and 1708, and reverted to the Julian calendar by having two leap days in 1712; the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1753 by the omission of 11 days (18 February being reckoned as 1 March). Japan adopted the calendar in 1872, China in 1912, Bulgaria in 1916, Turkey and Soviet Russia in 1918, Yugoslavia and Romania in 1919, and Greece in 1923.
In the same year that the change was made in England from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, the start of the new year was also changed from 25 March to 1 January.
THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES
Some Orthodox churches still use the Julian reckoning but the majority of Greek Orthodox churches and the Romanian Orthodox Church have adopted a modified ‘New Calendar’, observing the Gregorian calendar for fixed feasts and the Julian for movable feasts.
The Orthodox Church year begins on 1 September. There are four fast periods and, in addition to Pascha (Easter), twelve great feasts, as well as numerous commemorations of the saints of the Old and New Testaments throughout the year.
EASTER DAYS AND DOMINICAL LETTERS 1500 TO 2040
Dates up to and including 1752 are according to the Julian calendar. For dominical letters in leap years, see note below
1500–1599
1600–1699
1700–1799
1800–1899
1900–1999
2000–2040
March
d
22
1573
1668
1761
1818
  
e
23
1505/16
1600
1788
1845/56
1913
2008
f
24
 
1611/95
1706/99
 
1940
 
g
25
1543/54
1627/38/49
1722/33/44
1883/94
1951
2035
A
26
1559/70/81/92
1654/65/76
1749/58/69/80
1815/26/37
1967/78/89
 
b
27
1502/13/24/97
1608/87/92
1785/96
1842/53/64
1910/21/32
2005/16
c
28
1529/35/40
1619/24/30
1703/14/25
1869/75/80
1937/48
2027/32
d
29
1551/62
1635/46/57
1719/30/41/52
1807/12/91
1959/64/70
 
e
30
1567/78/89
1651/62/73/84
1746/55/66/77
1823/34
1902/75/86/97
 
f
31
1510/21/32/83/94
1605/16/78/89
1700/71/82/93
1839/50/61/72
1907/18/29/91
2002/13/24
April
g
1
1526/37/48
1621/32
1711/16
1804/66/77/88
1923/34/45/56
2018/29/40
A
2
1553/64
1643/48
1727/38
1809/20/93/99
1961/72
 
b
3
1575/80/86
1659/70/81
1743/63/68/74
1825/31/36
1904/83/88/94
 
c
4
1507/18/91
1602/13/75/86/97
1708/79/90
1847/58
1915/20/26/99
2010/21
d
5
1523/34/45/56
1607/18/29/40
1702/13/24/95
1801/63/74/85/96
1931/42/53
2015/26/37
e
6
1539/50/61/72
1634/45/56
1729/35/40/60
1806/17/28/90
1947/58/69/80
 
f
7
1504/77/88
1667/72
1751/65/76
1822/33/44
1901/12/85/96
 
g
8
1509/15/20/99
1604/10/83/94
1705/87/92/98
1849/55/60
1917/28
2007/12
A
9
1531/42
1615/26/37/99
1710/21/32
1871/82
1939/44/50
2023/34
b
10
1547/58/69
1631/42/53/64
1726/37/48/57
1803/14/87/98
1955/66/77
2039
c
11
1501/12/63/74/85/96
1658/69/80
1762/73/84
1819/30/41/52
1909/71/82/93
2004
d
12
1506/17/28
1601/12/91/96
1789
1846/57/68
1903/14/25/36/98
2009/20
e
13
1533/44
1623/28
1707/18
1800/73/79/84
1941/52
2031/36
f
14
1555/60/66
1639/50/61
1723/34/45/54
1805/11/16/95
1963/68/74
 
g
15
1571/82/93
1655/66/77/88
1750/59/70/81
1827/38
1900/06/79/90
2001
A
16
1503/14/25/36/87/98
1609/20/82/93
1704/75/86/97
1843/54/65/76
1911/22/33/95
2006/17/28
b
17
1530/41/52
1625/36
1715/20
1808/70/81/92
1927/38/49/60
2022/33
c
18
1557/68
1647/52
1731/42/56
1802/13/24/97
1954/65/76
 
d
19
1500/79/84/90
1663/74/85
1747/67/72/78
1829/35/40
1908/81/87/92
 
e
20
1511/22/95
1606/17/79/90
1701/12/83/94
1851/62
1919/24/30
2003/14/25
f
21
1527/38/49
1622/33/44
1717/28
1867/78/89
1935/46/57
2019/30
g
22
1565/76
1660
1739/53/64
1810/21/32
1962/73/84
 
A
23
1508
1671
 
1848
1905/16
2000
b
24
1519
1603/14/98
1709/91
1859
 
2011
c
25
1546
1641
1736
1886
1943
2038
No dominical letter is placed against the intercalary day 29 February, but since it is still counted as a weekday and given a name, the series of letters moves back one day every leap year after intercalation. Thus, a leap year beginning with the dominical letter C will change to a year with the dominical letter B on 1 March
MOVEABLE FEASTS TO THE YEAR 2040
Year
Ash
Easter
Ascension
Pentecost
Advent Sunday
 
Wednesday
  
(Whit Sunday)
 
2017
1 March
16 April
25 May
4 June
3 December
2018
14 February
1 April
10 May
20 May
2 December
2019
6 March
21 April
30 May
9 June
1 December
2020
26 February
12 April
21 May
31 May
29 November
2021
17 February
4 April
13 May
23 May
28 November
2022
2 March
17 April
26 May
5 June
27 November
2023
22 February
9 April
18 May
28 May
3 December
2024
14 February
31 March
9 May
19 May
1 December
2025
5 March
20 April
29 May
8 June
30 November
2026
18 February
5 April
14 May
24 May
29 November
2027
10 February
28 March
6 May
16 May
28 November
2028
1 March
16 April
25 May
4 June
3 December
2029
14 February
1 April
10 May
20 May
2 December
2030
6 March
21 April
30 May
9 June
1 December
2031
26 February
13 April
22 May
1 June
30 November
2032
11 February
28 March
6 May
16 May
28 November
2033
2 March
17 April
26 May
5 June
27 November
2034
22 February
9 April
18 May
28 May
3 December
2035
7 February
25 March
3 May
13 May
2 December
2036
27 February
13 April
22 May
1 June
30 November
2037
18 February
5 April
14 May
24 May
29 November
2038
10 March
25 April
3 June
13 June
28 November
2039
23 February
10 April
19 May
29 May
27 November
2040
15 February
1 April
10 May
20 May
2 December
NOTES
Ash Wednesday (first day in Lent) can fall at earliest on 4 February and at latest on 10 March
Mothering Sunday (fourth Sunday in Lent) can fall at earliest on 1 March and at latest on 4 April
Easter Day can fall at earliest on 22 March and at latest on 25 April
Ascension Day is forty days after Easter Day and can fall at earliest on 30 April and at latest on 3 June
Pentecost (Whit Sunday) is seven weeks after Easter and can fall at earliest on 10 May and at latest on 13 June
Trinity Sunday is the Sunday after Whit Sunday
Corpus Christi falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday
Sundays after Pentecost – there are not less than 18 and not more than 23
Advent Sunday is the Sunday nearest to 30 November
THE DOMINICAL LETTER
The dominical letter is one of the letters A–G which are used to denote the Sundays in successive years. If the first day of the year is a Sunday the letter is A; if the second, B; the third, C; and so on. A leap year requires two letters, the first for 1 January to 29 February, the second for 1 March to 31 December. The dominical letter for 2017, which is not a leap year, is A (see also The Year 2017).
EPIPHANY
The feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the manifestation of Christ, later became associated with the offering of gifts by the Magi. The day was of great importance from the time of the Council of Nicaea (AD 325), as the primate of Alexandria was charged at every Epiphany feast with the announcement in a letter to the churches of the date of the forthcoming Easter. The day was also of importance in Britain as it influenced dates, ecclesiastical and lay, eg Plough Monday, when work was resumed in the fields, fell on the Monday in the first full week after Epiphany.
LENT
The Teutonic word Lent, which denotes the fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season; but from Anglo-Saxon times, at least, it has been used as the equivalent of the more significant Latin term Quadragesima, meaning the ‘forty days’ or, more literally, the fortieth day. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which ends at midnight before Easter Day.
PALM SUNDAY
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter and the beginning of Holy Week, commemorates the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem.
MAUNDY THURSDAY
Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday, the name itself being a corruption of dies mandati (day of the mandate) when Christ washed the feet of the disciples and gave them the mandate to love one another.
EASTER DAY
Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon which happens on, or next after, the 21st day of March; if the full moon happens on a Sunday, Easter Day is the Sunday after.
This definition is contained in an Act of Parliament (24 Geo. II ch. 23) and explanation is given in the preamble to the Act that the day of full moon depends on certain tables that have been prepared. These tables are summarised in the early pages of the Book of Common Prayer. The moon referred to is not the real Moon of the heavens, but a hypothetical moon on whose ‘full’ the date of Easter depends, and the lunations of this ‘calendar’ moon consist of 29 and 30 days alternately, with certain necessary modifications to make the date of its full agree as nearly as possible with that of the real Moon, which is known as the Paschal Full Moon.
A FIXED EASTER
In 1928 the House of Commons agreed to a motion for the third reading of a bill proposing that Easter Day shall, in the calendar year next but one after the commencement of the Act and in all subsequent years, be the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. Easter would thus fall on the second or third Sunday in April, ie between 9 and 15 April (inclusive). A clause in the bill provided that before it shall come into operation, regard shall be had to any opinion expressed officially by the various Christian churches. Efforts by the World Council of Churches to secure a unanimous choice of date for Easter by its member churches have so far been unsuccessful.
ROGATION DAYS
Rogation Days are the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday preceding Ascension Day and from the fifth century were observed as public fasts with solemn processions and supplications. The processions were discontinued as religious observances at the Reformation, but survive in the ceremony known as ‘beating the parish bounds’. Rogation Sunday is the Sunday before Ascension Day.
EMBER DAYS
The Ember days occur on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the same week, four times a year. Used for the ordination of clergy, these days are set aside for fasting and prayer. The weeks in which they fall are: (a) after the third Sunday in Advent, (b) before the second Sunday in Lent, (c) before Trinity Sunday and (d) after Holy Cross day.
TRINITY SUNDAY
Trinity Sunday is eight weeks after Easter Day, on the Sunday following Pentecost (Whit Sunday). Subsequent Sundays are reckoned in the Book of Common Prayer calendar of the Church of England as ‘after Trinity’.
Thomas Becket (1118–70) was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on the Sunday after Whit Sunday and his first act was to ordain that the day of his consecration should be held as a new festival in honour of the Holy Trinity.