Historic Fail; For 11 Years the Soviets Tried a Different Calendar

It was June 27, 1940, when the Soviets finally gave up their fight against the evil, evil Gregorian calendar. Evil, of course, because the Gregorian calendar has a seven-day week, which is clearly a tool to embed our lives with Christianity.

For the Soviets, Christianity was problematic because commies were atheists… back then at least.

To say that the Soviets changed their calendar would be misleading. It was more like they back-burnered the Gregorian calendar. What they did do, however, was change the national structure of the work week, first to a five-day structure, then a six day. Both failed In the end, proving that we are all doomed to use Gregorian calendar forever.

What they did do, however, was change the national structure of the work week, first to a five-day structure, then a six day. Both failed In the end, proving that we are all doomed to use Gregorian calendar forever.

How did Humanity get here?

Hard to believe, but for most of human history, there was a different calendar. If we’re talking Earth history, which is around 4.5-billion years, “most” means almost all. For recorded history, it’s still a good chunk.

The first recorded history began in Sumeria, and that is stretching the idea of “keeping records.” As one might expect, farming dictated some of the first calendars.

Between the time of Sumeria and ancient Egypt, humans kept a lunar schedule. That system was problematic for predicting seasons, but it was something. It was the Egyptians who created the first 365-day solar calendar around 4241 BCE.

For the record, on the other side of the planet, the humans in America developed a 365-day calendar too, but about 2-thousand years later. 

It was the Egyptian calendar that inspired Julius Caesar to make a change. Astronomers had figured out the year was actually closer to 365.25 days long, so Caesar created the first leap years. That calendar became the Western Civilization standard until the 16th century, even though it was 11 minutes and 14 seconds off every year.

It was Pope Gregory XIII who adjusted the Julian Calendar, adding that there would be no leap year in Centennial years. The exception he added, was any centennial year that divide by 400. Problem solved; the Gregorian Calendar worked. Now to get everyone on the same calendar…

What happened in the Soviet Union?

Not everybody was on board with this fancy new Gregorian calendar. It wasn’t until 1752 that England and her snotty little colonies in America adopted the new calendar. Asia took even longer. Japan stuck with their system until 1873. China waited until 1912, but Russia was the worst.

To be fair, the beginning of the 20th century was a bit messy for Russia. There were all those Tzars to kill and revolutions to be had. It wasn’t until after the revolution, after Russia became the Soviet Union, that their new leader took a stand.

Vladimir Lenin put down his foot in 1917, shifting the nascent country to the Gregorian calendar. In February 1918, the Soviet calendar skipped the first 14 days to catch them up.

It was the worst Valentine’s Day on record–kidding; there was no Valentine’s Day in the Soviet Union at that time because nobody loved anyone. Still kidding. Valentine’s is a Christian holiday.The Soviets were decidedly atheist.

As the Soviets dug into every system of management, the Gregorian calendar presented an opportunity to reject the Christian aspect of resting on the Sabbath. In 1929, they rolled out a calendar which was more like a work schedule.

They color-coded citizens with one of five colors, then created a rolling five day work week. Each color would have a day off, so indicated on their calendar. This way industry would run without a break.

From a production standpoint, it worked. In reality, the whole thing stunk.

Why did they concede?

The five-day week, randomized days off so family members rarely had days off together. This was bad for morale.

In December of 1931, the Soviets adjusted the work week to fit a six-day rotation, giving everyone the same day off. They believed this would increase productivity, but it too failed.

Other than ridding themselves of the evil sabbath concept, the Soviets only succeeded in created a weird layer of confusion with their weeks. Most everyone still kept track of the Gregorian calendar. Records from that time show that they would often print the five-day and six-day week calendars with the Gregorian Calendar on the back.

In an industrial world which was moving towards international trade, keeping a different calendar was another mess. internally there were dissenters everywhere. The Russian news organization, Pravda, never stopped printing newspapers with the Gregorian date on the front.

To make matters worse, the constant schedule of work had negative ramifications on industrial equipment. Break downs were regular. Life was… weird, and dark.

By 1940, the Soviets conceded to the Gregorian calendar in all matters except going to church on Sunday.

In 1902, a man named Moses B. Cotsworth suggested an International Fixed Calendar of 13-months with 28 days each. It would still require a leap year like the Gregorian Calendar, but Cotsworth’s Calendar enjoyed only mild support. It would someone bigger than the pope to change our calendar now. Perhaps the almighty creator?

The Russians would object, of course.

Sources: thoughtco.com, timeanddate.com