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Julian calendar

The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC (708 AUC), was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on 1 January 45 BC (AUC 709) (shortly before the Roman conquest of Egypt), by edict. It was the predominant calendar in the Roman world, most of Europe, and in European settlements in the Americas and elsewhere, until it was refined and gradually replaced by the Gregorian calendar, promulgated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. The Julian calendar gains against the mean tropical year at the rate of one day in 128 years. For the Gregorian the figure is one day in 3,030 years. The difference in the average length of the year between Julian (365.25 days) and Gregorian (365.2425 days) is 0.002%.

The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months, as listed in the table below. A leap day is added to February every four years. The Julian year is, therefore, on average 365.25 days long. It was intended to approximate the tropical (solar) year. Although Greek astronomers had known, at least since Hipparchus, a century before the Julian reform, that the tropical year was slightly shorter than 365.25 days, the calendar did not compensate for this difference. As a result, the calendar year gains about three days every four centuries compared to observed equinox times and the seasons. This discrepancy was corrected by the Gregorian reform of 1582. The Gregorian calendar has the same months and month lengths as the Julian calendar, but, in the Gregorian calendar, years evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years, except that years evenly divisible by 400 remain leap years. Consequently, the Julian calendar is currently (since 14 March 1900 Gregorian/1 March Julian and until 28 February 2100 Gregorian/15 February Julian) 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar.


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