Pre-revolutionary Christmas greeting card. Fragment
Recently, the question is often raised: why does the Russian Orthodox Church live according to the Julian calendar, when the whole world and the majority of Orthodox Churches have long moved to the Gregorian calendar? But really - why? How convincing are the arguments of those who support the rejection of the Julian calendar, how the calendar relates to the spiritual life of Christians, what new meanings are gained by the preservation of tradition in the modern world, and what to do to make the church calendar for many of our fellow citizens become alive - with readers the historian Pavel Kuzenkov is talking.
Today, the discussions around the Julian calendar are once again flaring up, and the question is put not so: why does the Russian Orthodox Church live on this calendar? - which is actually obvious: because this is a thousand-year tradition, and so: why have we not yet switched to the calendar on which the majority lives, as stated in the resolution of the Council of People's Commissars on 8 February 1918, "cultural peoples" ? The question, in essence, boils down to why we are still keeping a tradition. The answer, however, is obvious: because in the Orthodox Church very much is connected with tradition.
Nevertheless, we will consider those arguments that are advanced in favor of a "transition" to a new calendar. There are three of them: the argument is scientific, the argument is from the point of view of the church tradition and the argument is practical.
The scientific task is to correct Paschalia?
Introduction of the Gregorian calendar. Bas-relief on the grave of Pope Gregory XIII in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome
The scientific argument is as follows: The Gregorian calendar more accurately describes astronomical phenomena, namely: it is more accurately correlated with the duration of the tropical year, that is, with the period of the Earth's rotation around the Sun. And in order to order the account of time, first of all, in Europe, it was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII. It began in the Catholic world, then spread to other countries.
The main goal of the Gregorian reform was the correction of Paschalia
But in reality Pope Gregory introduced the new calendar for a different reason: the main idea of the Gregorian reform was the correction of Paschalia. Scientists of the time, primarily Italian, calculated that the errors that the classical Julian year gives will lead to the fact that in a few thousand years Easter will not be in spring, but in summer. And in a few tens of thousands of years, it will be in the fall, and thus certain principles will be violated. A commission was set up, which after quite lengthy disputes came to the conclusion that it was necessary to carry out the reform of Paschalia, and for the sake of Paschalia reform the Julian year was reformed. It introduced amendments that make the year a little shorter. The rule for determining leap years was also changed: the years that were multiples of 4 and 400 remained leap years, and those that were multiples of 100 were not leap years.
And what about Pachalia, for the sake of which the calendar changed? The entire Orthodox world adheres to the traditional Alexandrian Paschalia, while the Catholic world never developed its own Paschalia, and in fact the Catholic calculus of Easter is based on the same Alexandria Paschalia, to which additional corrective additions are made. Moreover, more recently, almost last year, Catholics in the Holy Land went directly to our Orthodox Paschalia, returning to the tradition from which they departed in the 16th century, that is, recognizing that the main task to be solved was the Gregorian calendar, unsatisfactorily resolved. This was recognized by all the Orthodox Churches, which, from practical convenience in the twentieth century, switched to the so-called "new style". Formally, this is not the Gregorian calendar, but the New Julian calendar, but for several centuries it will still coincide with the Gregorian calendar. But, going to this new calendar, Paschalia, these churches still cope with the old tradition - the Julian calendar, because the Alexandrian Paschalia can not be correlated with the Gregorian calendar - such is its internal mathematical apparatus, if you like. It is designed only for the Julian calendar.
So, the first argument disappears, because the main scientific task, which was designed to solve the Gregorian calendar - the correction of Paskhaliya, - is unsatisfactorily solved.
Calendar and liturgical year
Resurrection of Christ. The fresco in the monastery of Hora
Attempts to combine the Gregorian calendar with the Orthodox traditional Paschalia lead to a whole series of liturgical incongruities
Consider now the second argument - from the point of view of the church tradition. But first we will notice: attempts to combine the Gregorian calendar with the Orthodox traditional Paskhaliy lead to a whole series of liturgical incongruities - to the disappearance of Petrov's fast, for example. They violate the entire system of liturgical life, which has been worked out for centuries, and can not cause anything other than church misfits. In fact, these are incompatible systems, which, incidentally, was recognized by the creators of the New Julian calendar. When in the 20-ies of the XX century the Greeks, and after them other Orthodox countries, switched to this new style, the task was still the same - to work out a new Paschalia. But nobody worked it out and could not, because it is not just a difficult task, and this task is not solved: such a Paskhalie can not be done. The only thing that can be done is like Catholics: to make regular annual corrections on a complex mathematical formula. But the question immediately arises: and for what purpose?
So what is the calendar in the church tradition?
For the church tradition, the calendar is a system, of course, utilitarian, not dogmatic. That's why those Churches that have switched to the new calendar - Greek, Bulgarian - for us are the same sisters, we do not have any dogmatic arguments and disagreements with them, we support fraternal fellowship. But the calendar performs a very important function.
The Julian calendar itself is an invention of the pagan world, it has nothing to do with Christianity at all. In fact, it should not be particularly dear to us. But the fact is that on this calendar the same Alexandrian Paschalia was founded, which for centuries - from the end of the III - beginning of the IV century - determined the structure of not just the liturgical life, but the structure of the liturgical year itself. It was on the basis of this Paschalia that the system of Christian holidays was being formed, which began with the creation of the fourth century and, by the sixth century, it had already acquired a more or less stable form, almost modern to us. The calendar serves as the organizer of the liturgical life, and in this sense the Julian calendar has grown, absorbed into the church tradition so firmly and firmly that any attempts to remove it from there necessarily lead to very serious temptations, to what the Greeks called the "scandal" that is, to that which is offensive to people who are accustomed to this liturgical tradition. And the liturgical tradition means for Christians much more than just a ritual.
On the example of the Orthodox countries, that they carried out a calendar reform, we see how painful, how hard it was in the church people, all these processes, how often they were the reason for all kinds of temptations, splits, etc. The resistance to the calendar can be used as an excuse to justify splits, although we understand that behind schisms there is always some kind of pride, an attempt to oppose the Church. And we, of course, condemn this. But, as the saying goes, "do not tempt the little ones" - one should not give cause for searching reasons.
Easter is not a seasonal holiday. This is a memory of the Resurrection of the Savior. It has nothing to do with astronomical cycles
From the point of view of the church tradition, such a painful phenomenon as the change of the calendar, is practically unjustified. Because the idea that was the basis of the Gregorian reform, according to which Easter can only be a spring holiday, celebrated without fail after the astronomical vernal equinox, is based on false premises. Nowhere in the Holy Scripture is it said about the spring equinox, nowhere in the Holy Scriptures it is said that Easter is a seasonal holiday. The Jewish Passover is indeed a seasonal holiday associated with the agricultural cycle. But what is the Christian Easter? - This is a memory of the Resurrection of the Savior. It has nothing to do with astronomical cycles, the progress of the moon and stars.
As for the seasons, even now Orthodox Christians living in the Southern Hemisphere - and not only Orthodox Christians, but also Catholics and all Christians - celebrate Easter in the fall, and this has not bothered or embarrassed anyone, including the current Pope of Rome, who is known to have been born from South America.
The argument underlying the Gregorian reform, as if natural science, for the Christian tradition not only does not matter - it even refutes it. Because just the new Easter from that worn-out Easter is different in that from now on it is no longer a holiday connected with earthly life, but a holiday connected with the life of the next century. It is a holiday that opens the way for man to the life of the future century, to the Kingdom of Heaven. This is already a holiday not from this world, and, accordingly, the movement of the stars, the change of natural cycles has absolutely no significance for him.
In a single rhythm with the West
Give us back our eleven days! William Hogarth, 1755
Commerce took its toll: it led Europe to a single calendar system, according to which she now lives
The third argument is the practical convenience of the Gregorian calendar. He is quoted today most often. After all, on the basis of this argument, the Protestant countries crossed the Gregorian calendar, who for a very long time resisted this and cursed the papal calendar. Especially persecuted by the British and the Swedes: they, as you know, lasted right up to the XVIII century. And they, by the way, did not recognize any celebration of the New Year - they did not have this "our New Year's problem". New Year in England began 1 March - according to the old-old, still Roman Christian tradition. And the transition to the papal calendar was associated exclusively with the requirements of commerce: it was necessary to agree on the dating of contracts, the timing of transactions and the movement of goods - because it is the merchants that depend on the calendars of different countries. An ordinary person does not know what day is in China on the Chinese calendar or in Persia on the solar Hijra. But for a merchant who travels back and forth, this is a matter of extra money. And commerce took its toll: it led Europe to a single calendar system, according to which she now lives.
What was happening in the Orthodox world? Here the situation is more tragic - because it was not even commerce that solved the issue, but a banal policy: after all, the Orthodox countries began to move in an avalanche fashion to a new style in the First World War and after it. It was already about synchronizing military supplies. The first was Bulgaria, which was involved in the German military bloc, and then, after the revolution in Russia, already all other countries, having lost its main anchor - Russia: in this case it acted as such anchor of the Julian calendar tradition, as it was a serious cultural field, with whom one also had to live synchronously. Orthodox countries preferred to synchronize their calendars with the Russian, but when Russia itself switched to a new calendar, most other countries almost instantly switched to this most Western European calendar, with governments doing it, not the Church. The churches held on to old calendars - both in Bulgaria, and in Serbia, and, of course, in Russia. So, from that moment on, there has been a split in the calendar tradition. The exception was Greece. In Greece, which preserves the longest - tries to keep - the unity of political and ecclesiastical principles, both secular life and church life were translated into another calendar at the same time - in the 1920-s, not the Gregorian, but the New-Julian. They tried to make it as prestigious as possible, so to speak, because they did not switch to the West European calendar, but to the Orthodox calendar, only the new one. By the way, Athos did not go to the new calendar, they adhere to the old calendar.
And not all Orthodox Churches have passed. An attempt to give this decision to the Greeks, first of all - the Greek reformers, for the general Orthodox decision - failed. Patriarch Tikhon was then deceived: he was informed that a general Orthodox decision had taken place on the transition to a new style, and therefore he issued his famous decree that for the sake of preserving the church unity we need to pass. But as soon as Patriarch Tikhon found out that the Patriarch of Jerusalem had not passed, that the other Patriarchates were hesitating too, he immediately abolished this decree. He cared more than anything about not losing the church unity of the Orthodox world, and if there is the consent of other Orthodox Churches to switch to a different calendar, it is impossible, as they say, to express Russian pride. But just the fact that there were a lot of wickedness around this topic shows that the calendar issue was not connected with purely practical goals. Of course, politics was involved in this, because, in fact, it was a question of reorienting to European civilization as a whole. To Western, Euro-American. And, having adopted the calendar, the Orthodox world surrendered one of its outposts, one of those that categorically distinguished it, isolated it, separated it from the Western world.
Decree on the introduction in the Russian Republic of the Western European calendar. C.1. Typing on a blank. Fragment. RGA SPI. F. 2. Op. 1. D. 5249. L. 1-2
The transition to the Gregorian calendar was not a dogmatic problem. But this problem, nevertheless, is very important and principled. And it was quite acutely experienced in Russia.
The church people gladly, incidentally, refused the calendar reform also because the division into the secular and spiritual that arose was very useful for spiritual life in Russia after the revolution. The church people remained in the right world - in a world that was destroyed by the state and society, but which was preserved in the Church. By the way, none of the anti-Bolshevik governments recognized the European calendars: all documents of the White movement date back to the old style - this was also a form of isolation from Bolshevism. And this kind of parallel calendar life lasted until the end of Soviet power - until the 1990-ies - just as a conscious form of another organization of church life - an organization based on observance of traditions in the state, which set the rejection of traditions as the cornerstone of its policy.
For a long time there is a process that can not but alarm: the Church forgets that its calendar is different
The situation changed when the state came to its senses and seemed to return to traditional values and principles, but to abandon the new calendar, of course, no one had neither the strength nor the means, because this occupation is not cheap and, most importantly, very uncomfortable from the point of view view of state interests. And at that time the process began, which, of course, can not but alarm: the Church gradually began to forget that its calendar is different. From the calendars, the figures in parentheses, which pointed to the correct dates for the holidays and events of church life, gradually began to disappear. In fact, a kind of hybrid church calendar arose in which all holidays-above all, we are talking about non-overlapping holidays with fixed dates-suddenly acquired a new meaning, new dates that differed from the accepted in the rest of the Orthodox Church for 13 days. And, of course, this caused both ridicule and questions. And, of course, this is wrong and abnormal. A kind of ambiguous, false situation is created: we pretend that we live on the same calendar as everyone, but for some reason some kind of malfunction occurs regularly.
With Christ or with the world?
Fragment from the film "The Irony of Fate"
The most famous of the calendar failures is the pre-Christmas New Year, around which there are especially many speculations
The most famous of these failures is the pre-Christmas New Year, around which there are a lot of speculation. And here, of course, a large space for all sorts of insinuations. But the question is very simply solved if the New Year is designated, firstly, by its correct date, and secondly, deprived of the status that it acquired in the Soviet era. After all, the New Year is a rather strange holiday, it is not celebrated in other countries. Only Russia and the post-Soviet satellites are countries where the New Year has acquired the status of a family holiday, the central holiday of the year, the favorite holiday of children, etc. Throughout the world, this status is enjoyed by Christmas - it is the Christmas holidays that are associated with holidays, gifts, a Christmas tree and other things. The trick of the revival of the holiday in the USSR in the 1930-ies was to change it: to revive the old tradition under a new sauce. To leave a tree and a star on it, but to make a star five-pointed, and to present a tree as a certain symbol, deprived of any kind of religious overtones. At the same time, Father Frost and the Snow Maiden appeared. The task was to take advantage of religious traditions in order to overcome them, depriving them of their meaning. And it succeeded. The modern Russian, of course, does not represent that this is a religious holiday.
It's time to put everything in its place and return the New Year celebrations their original Christmas meaning. And then all problems will dissipate by themselves, and the civil New Year will be unobtrusive, important enough, but at the same time preparing for the right, this holiday, which all people expect at this time. There will be not only no tragedy - on the contrary: it will even create additional incentives for Orthodox people to test themselves: with whom are you with the world or still with tradition? After all, this confrontation between the world and tradition is fundamental to Christianity: Christianity is the religion of confronting the world. This began with opposition to the Roman holidays. Christians have always been accused that they are not happy when all the pagans are happy, that they celebrate the holidays, when the Gentiles do not celebrate, they lead their own special life.
But this was one of the main ideas of the Lord: to make a person look at this world as a temporary refuge, to shake him from worldly habits, holidays. To make us part with the illusion that worldly life is that for which we all live.
And later, when Christianity has already become a state religion, traditional, a certain Christian habit has become one of the problems of the Christian consciousness. And it is no accident that monasticism appears at that time. Monks are looking for just the confrontation of the world, and the everyday Christianity of it, on the contrary, as it loses - it seeks to make Christianity comfortable, familiar, comfortable, to make life the same as the pagans are used to, which is customary for mankind.
But that is characteristic: all the same always in the Christian world there remained this reserved alienation: for no reason monks in the Christian world always used a special status. These were the only people who lead the right way of life. That is why the laity for holidays often went to monasteries: there they felt a normal life. All the rest is mundane, but it is some form of palliative, some transitional forms between the old and the new that are inevitable are necessary, but they are not normal.
The attempts to make the church calendar comfortable are attempts to make Christianity comfortable
And by virtue of this attempt to make the calendar comfortable - so that you do not have to fast in the New Year, when everyone is happy, so that you can travel without regard for church holidays, with any disruptions and shifts - these are all attempts to make Christianity comfortable, its such a practical, comfortable religion that does not cause tension. But this is nothing more than a direct emasculation of the very essence of Christianity as a religion. And I think this is a great gift from God, that I live in Russia, that she suddenly - more than expectation, because no one expected it - has gained such an additional way to make sure of its own rootedness in tradition, like a church calendar.
To love the church calendar
The Julian calendar is kept by the Church. The state that used to store it, abandoned it, and the Church - no. And thus the Church declared itself as the keeper of traditions. When it was formerly believed that the tradition is kept by the sovereign, like the Church itself, when the state acted as a trustee for the Church, there was a feeling that without it the Church could not do anything, that it was helpless. By the way, many wrote about this helplessness. And it did take place. And now we have a calendar support for the church testimonies - evidence of the non-importance of traditions, the inaccessibility of the entire religious system, the religious worldview. This is also a very important point, and to neglect it and, moreover, to sacrifice them for the sake of practical comforts - this would be just that, as proof of that helplessness.
This means that the Church is not in a position to oppose the world, can not withstand the onslaught of comfort, convenience requirements, which declare themselves daily, hourly, every minute. "How come: they have one day there, and we have another? It is necessary to calculate something, to subtract something ... My head does not understand. " Or: "How is it? Everyone is having fun, rejoicing, and I still have a post ... "These anomalies can be solved in two ways: perceive as normal and perceive as abnormal and fight. But the fact is that Christianity is a fundamentally abnormal religion - from the point of view of common sense, from the point of view of this world. This is insanity, as the apostle says, that, indeed, there are things that are ridiculous. But that's why they are dear to us.
It seems to me that this is one of the most important, most advantageous features of our Christianity - our calendar. And those churches, which together with us still keep it, also perfectly feel it. The problem is that it is difficult to bring to the public, but it can be conveyed.
25 December - Christmas! And it is this date that should appear everywhere
The main thing is to overcome two main problems. The first is the loss of memory of the old style, when Christmas is celebrated on 7 January, which is ridiculous. 25 December - Christmas! And it is this date that should appear everywhere. And the fact that the world lives on another calendar and with him, this world, in England, in France, somewhere else, at this time another number - well, this is the world: he has shifted. And this is one of the most striking signs, visible evidence that he has shifted altogether, and we know perfectly well that the world has shifted relative to norms in all other senses. Calendar inconsistencies show this personally. This, perhaps, is such an illustration of apostasy that we observe.
And, of course, you need to love your church calendar, and I believe that everywhere there should be a priority date for the church calendar. For convenience, of course, there should be a date for the world calendar - this is normal, it can not be different, but the first one - the date on the calendar to the church calendar - is not otherwise.
And the second point: people do not understand the connection between Paschalia and the calendar. They think that it's enough to go to the Gregorian calendar, and all questions will go away. And it turns out that we have Paskalia Julian, and the Gregorian calendar - but this has always been kept silent by supporters of the calendar reform. Because the task that was initiated in the 20-s of the XX century by the initiators of the transition - the creation of a new Orthodox Paschalia - was not solved, although great efforts were made to implement it. And we end up with this task sooner or later. Do we need this? Here are the questions that arise in connection with calendar disputes.
Traditional calendars in other countries
The Jewish Calendar
The discrepancy between the sacred calendar and the civil calendar is a characteristic of many living religious traditions, in particular, of the modern Jewish one. In Israel, as is known, there exists its traditional - more precisely: the revived Jewish calendar, based, it is true, not on the biblical tradition, but rather on Babylonian in essence, but firmly entrenched in Jewish culture, Talmudic primarily. This calendar in Israel exists in parallel with the civil Gregorian, and every day has two dates. This does not affect the work of civilian institutions.
In Iran, there is an Arabic calendar with a triple number: the European date, the lunar Hijra and the solar Hijra - and no tragedy. The official calendar is the solar Hijra. In Japan and China there are their traditional lunar calendars, they do not live today, but, nevertheless, no one officially canceled them, and traditionally - people, at least - they are used for all holidays.