Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'm confused now. When is my Name's Day?

Happy Name's Day to me. Again.

Wait. WHAT?!?

Allow me to boggle your brain:
1) My patron saint is the New Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia (formerly of Germany, hence the S).
2) She died on the 5/18 of July.
3) Okay, like that's not confusing enough: "the 5/18 July."
4) It's July 18 today. New Calendar (Right? I'm starting to doubt myself).
5) The Old Calendar is 13 daysbehind us, so it would technically be July 5th for them.
6) Oh, I'm so confused.
7) So I was thinking that according to the New Calendar my Name's Day would be on the 5th. But if today's only the 5th on the Old Calendar, then is it the 18th on the New Calendar? And are the saints celebrated by the whole Church at the same time regardless of the "debatable calendar date?
8) Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. We both say that, Old and New. But the Olds say that the 25th of December occurs 13 days (sun and moon rotations) (give or take?) later than when the News say it is. But it's both the same date: December 25th, at least nominally.
9) Which leads me back to my original confusion. Why the 5/18 July? Why not one date and leave it at that?
10) The OCA website says my Name's Day is July 5th. The Saint Barnabas Mission calendar (published by Saint Tikhon's) says it's today. But either way, shouldn't it be only one date?
11) And if she died on July 5th (New) wouldn't that be June 22 (Old)?

Can anyone else wrap their mind around this?

Don't worry. I'm not fretting over this. Until it's solved, I get two Name's Days, which is all right with me. But my head feels a little swirly today. I'm glad this isn't a pertinent theological or spiritual issue.

Also, I have no clue how to spell cala/ende/ar, despite being told over and over again, with clues how to remember it, so please have mercy on me.

Elisabeth the 5th. (or 18th?)

(or 22nd?)


Simply Victoria said...

cyber hug. (warm, isn't it? makes you wonder why we substitute with actual human interaction...)

Fr. Justin (Edward) said...

I appreciate your confusion... I went through the same mental gymnastics trying to figure out whether to celebrate St. John of Shanghai's feast-day on June 19th or July 2nd. I'm still not an expert on this calendar stuff by any stretch of the imagination, but I'll give it a shot.

As you know, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th on both Old and New Calendars, but the Old Calendar is now about 13 days behind the New, so on the Old Calendar, December 25th does not arrive until 13 days after it arrives on the New. The basic problem with the Old Calendar is that it the solar year is not exactly 365.25 days long (it's actually closer to 365.24), so over the centuries it gradually fell out of sync with the solar year - a situation that Pope Gregory XIII tried to fix with his new calendar, which actually skipped ten days in order to bring the dates back into line with the solar year, then added the refinement of making years divisible by 100 leap years only if they were also divisible by 400. (Hence the year 2000 was a leap year, but the year 1900 was not.)

Note that the result of all this is that the Old Calendar very gradually gets more and more out of sync with the New - back in Pope Gregory's day, the difference was only ten days - now it is 13. Note also that because the Old Calendar is behind ours, they don't reach any given date on the New Calendar until 13 days later. Hence, since St. John of Shanghai died on July 2nd on the New Calendar, the same date on the Old Calendar was June 19th.

In other words, when celebrating the death of "modern" saints, both Old and New Calendar Orthodox Churches celebrate them on the same actual day - the actual date of the saint's repose. In the case of the date of St. Elizabeth's repose, the New Calendar date had gotten up to July 18th already, while the same day on the Old Calendar was only July 5th. In other words, the St. Tikhon's calendar is correct: your name's day is today (well, yesterday now, since it's past midnight) - happy name's day!

That being said, there do seem to be some Orthodox who take the Old Calendar date and simply transpose it to the New Calendar (such as the OCA web-site), resulting in two separate feast-days on the same "date" - I think in error, but I am open to correction on this point.

biss said...

Thank you!

That deconfuddles it a bit.

This also simplifies things a bit for me too, since today (July 19th) is when we celebrate the Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov (patron of our house...and with the move coming up he's doing double duty listening to me). Two days back to back makes things easier to remember!


kimberley said...

Hey Fr. Justin,

I remember my Coptic friend Sam, saying that in Ethiopia, they go by a different calendar even still, or maybe the original one and don't round up the decimal points...therefore when he corresponds with family he'll write the present date, and recieve fairly quick responses dated 1985?! or something.

Very interesting... Some of their stories of travelling there amid the underground monasteries (that once or still might? house the ark of the covanant...told of meeting monks who have not been outside for decades and therefore...the concept of keeping track of chronos is less of a concern anyway. :)

Happy Belated Names Day to you Biss! God bless you! :)