Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools' and Gregorian Calendar

Pope Gregory XIII
April Fools' is a day in the year where jokes and hoaxes spread widely. It becomes a trending topic in Twitter in April 1. But April fools origin could be traced back to the 16th century.

It was during the period of the Renaissance, the rise of humanism and also Protestantism. The Catholic Church faced a daunting challenge. Its power and influence during the Middle Ages that launched the Crusades began to diminish. Excessive corruption and hypocrisy of some clergy led to German Monk named Martin Luther to nail his 95 theses in the doors of the Castle of Wittenberg. The Church responded with the Counter-Reformation. Changes were made to the Catholic Church and began to reclaim its lost influence, credibility, and prestige.

Among the men who worked to revive the Catholic Church’s influence was Pope Gregory XIII. Pope Gregory XIII was elected to papacy in May of 1572. Before that, he was well known canonist or expert in church laws. He was close to several popes. Pope Paul III respected him for his intellect. Pope Paul IV saw the brilliance of him and sent him to the landmark Council of Trent. When the next Pope, Pope Pius V, died, he was elected as Pope. He started to institute results of the Council of Trent that would reform the Church. To spread the ideas made during the Council, he established many new churches and seminaries. He gained the support of the Jesuits to support his actions. But the greatest contribution of Pope Gregory XIII to the world was his correction of the old and inaccurate Julian calendar.

The Julian calendar was replaced by Pope Gregory XIII with a new calendar that bared his name today, the Gregorian calendar. The switched change of calendar made New Year to be celebrated in January 1 rather than April 1 in the Julian calendar. However, some Protestant sects were apprehensive of the new calendar. Some of them believed that the Pope was the anti-Christ and to follow his teachings was evil. Thus, they ditched the new calendar and continued to use the old inaccurate Julian calendar. They kept celebrating New Year on April 1, rather than January 1.

Some of catholic and those in Vatican critiqued the Protestants that kept following the old Julian April 1 New Year tradition. They labelled them as “fools.” And April Fools' was born.

See also:
Clash in Canossa
How a Pope Spread Coffee to the World?

1 comment:

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