January 1, 45 B.C.


Good morning 2018. January 1 has welcomed you since 45 BC. The year Julius Caesar frowned upon the Roman calendar, proclaiming we could do better. Tired of a woefully inaccurate lunar based calendar, one tolerated since the seventh century BC, Julius Caesar called bullshit on constant corrections to out of sync lunar fancy and nailed down a solar year.

With the help of Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes, Caesar abandoned lunar year in favour of the solar year. Calculated at 365.25 days long, Caesar added 67 days to solar year 45 BC. Consequently the next year started on January 1 rather than in March. He also decreed an extra day would be added to February every 4 years to avoid pitfalls of runaway time.

Caesar and Sosigenes meant well but their 365.25 day solar year was actually 365.242199 in a calendar year. A miscalculation of 11 minutes a year that by the mid 1500s added 10 days to the year. In the 1570s Pope Gregory XIII enlisted astronomer Christopher Clavius to come up with a solution. In 1582 the Gregorian calendar replaced Caesar’s Julian calendar with leap year rules capable of managing untidy extra minutes. See – https://www.timeanddate.com/date/leapyear.html

Much as I doubt anyone cares why they drank too much last night, take solace in the rising sun and know its the reason January 1 marks a new year. Happy New Year to all.

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