Greece – The Greek Calendar

WRITING from Athens, I found myself, like a pendulum, swinging between the old calendar and the new. The Greek calendar is twelve days behind the reckoning of Europe. Thus, when it is the first of the month in Greece, it is the thirteenth of the month in Europe and America. It is not easy to become accustomed to this difference. The Greeks frequently date their letters in both calendars; but I find it hard enough to remember one date and one calendar. It is quite flattering to find, on arriving in Greece, that you are twelve days younger than you had thought. It disposes one to adopt the Greek calendar. It may be of decided advantage in taking out a life insurance policy.

There is some practical benefit in keeping up an active connection with both calendars. The duplication of a holiday is occasionally a luxury. The resident of Athens can keep the same feasts twice over. Thus, one Sunday was observed by the Europeans here as Christmas Day, and the English Church was crowded. But, according to the Greek calendar, the 25th of December would not arrive until Europe had counted the 6th of January. There is thus an opportunity in Athens to attend two Christmas dinners; and the second need not be eaten until the first has had twelve days to digest, —a point of great importance when English plum-pudding and mince-pie are on the first bill of fare. There is the same opportunity of duplicating New Year’s Day, and every other feast which is registered in both calendars. But it is a question of grave doubt with me whether a man ought to be privileged under this arrangement to keep his own birthday twice in the same month unless he has been born again.