During the time of the Bents’ visits to Greece, Britain was using the Gregorian calendar system, having switched from the Julian system in 1752. On the Julian date of Wednesday, September 2, 1752, Britain swiched to the Gregorian system and advanced the calendar by 11 days, the following day being designated Thursday, September 14, 1752.
Greece continued to use the Julian system until Wednesday, February 15, 1923, when 13 days were added, resulting in the next day being Thursday, March 1, 1923. Although this brought Greece into line with the majority of Europe, the Greek Orthodox church continued using the Julian system in reckoning dates of religious celebrations.
Assigning dates to the Bents’ travels is sometimes like trying to hit a moving target. We have a number of complications:-
- Theodore rarely quoted precise dates, so we have to deduce dates from the context.
- When deducing dates from the context in relation to religious festivals, we have to take into account the fact that these festivals are celebrated on different dates in different countries. As an example, Theodore was in Amorgos over Easter 1883. However, as is still the case, the Greek Orthodox Easter is often celebrated on a different date to other Christian dates for Easter (see point 5 below). In Britain in 1883, Greek Orthodox Easter was on the 29th April, whereas the Protestant and Catholic Easter was on the 25th March.
- At the time of the Bents’ visits, Greece operated on the Julian calendar and Britain and Western Europe operated on the Gregorian calendar. At that time, the Julian calendar was 12 days behind the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, in the case of Easter 1883, the Julian date, or local Greek date, for Easter was the 17th April.
- Mabel usually did assign dates to entries in her chronicle and in letters to relatives and friends at home. While in Greece, she usually adjusted these dates from the local Julian date to the British Gregorian date. However, if it’s important to you, it’s always worth double-checking to verify Mabel’s adherence to this practice and her powers of mental arithmetic.
- Although we’ve used Easter as an example above, Easter and its associated festivals, are moveable celebrations determined by a series of calculations other than just the number of days difference between Julian and Gregorian calendars when comparing the celebration dates between the Christian churches. Read more about the date of Easter.
Throughout this website. where dates are quoted, we usually try to stick with the local date which, for Greece, will actually be the Julian date.
Read more about the Julian and Gregorian dates.