Back in ancient Rome, people kept track of time with the Julian calendar, a 365-day almanac that didn’t figure in leap years. After a while, the calendar fell out of sync with the seasonal equinoxes, and the dates for holidays became askew. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII declared that Catholic nations should use the new Gregorian calendar, and over the next couple centuries, the rest of the Western world gradually adopted it. But it took more than 300 years, and there were problems -- including the time in 1908 when some Russian athletes showed up more than a week late for their events at the Summer Olympics in London because they were still using the Julian calendar.
More about the Gregorian calendar:
- The British Empire didn't switch to the Gregorian calendar until September 1752. Greece, the last nation to switch, did so in 1923.
- Russia was also a late adopter. They finally transitioned in 1918, after the Bolsheviks came to power.
- Six Russian athletes did compete in the 1908 Olympics, and some won medals. But the entire shooting team used the Julian calendar, and were 12 days late for their events.