Skipping a Day

30 December 2011 is a day the people of Samoa have decided to skip. They are going straight from Thursday 29 to Saturday 31 December - but only this year. Those with a birthday on 30 December can look forward to a proper celebration on the right day on 30 December 2012.

The nation is close to the International Dateline and since 1892 it has been officially east of the line in order to facilitate commerce with trading partners in the US and Europe. This made the line a strange shape around the Samoan islands. When persuaded by the US to change from west to east of the line in 1892 they did this by repeating a Monday. Samoa now does far more trade with countries like Australia, New Zealand, China and the Pacific rim so (calendar wise) Samoa is moving west. They will now be 1 hour ahead of Wellington, New Zealand instead of 23 hours behind. 

This change has created a dilemma for the 7th Day Adventist Church which observes the sabbath on Saturday. Samoan 7th day Adventist Church leaders have said they will continue to observe their holy day on what would have been Saturday, so from now on will be observing it on Sundays. According to the New Zealand Herald church members in the village of Samatau have decided not to follow this rule but will observe the sabbath on the new Saturday.

I'm not sure how all this relates to the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. After all the Gregorian calendar Saturday is not Saturday in the Julian calendar is it? Or not always?

At least the Samoans are only losing one day. When Britain finally adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 (2 centuries after the Pope had first introduced the change) we "lost" 11 days. Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed the next day by Thursday 14 September. If we'd made the change in the 16th century we'd only have lost 10. Just to confuse matters further we still use the Julian Calendar for the start of the UK tax year in April.

And talking of losing days where has the last year gone? It's the Running Clock problem again. Is time moving faster or am I getting older? If time is short, what's most important?


  1. I nearly got vertigo from reading this post! Interesting to consider the consequences of what looks like a "practical decision" about participating in the global economy.

  2. And you Penelope made your comment at a time of day that was not my time of day - not sure how many hours behind you are. Happy 6th Day of Christmas to you - you've got more left of it than I have!


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