Proleptic Gregorian calendar

The proleptic Gregorian calendar is produced by extending the Gregorian calendar backward to dates preceding its official introduction in 1582. In countries that adopted the Gregorian calendar later, dates occurring in the interim (between 1582 and the local adoption) are sometimes "Gregorian-ized" as well. For example, George Washington was born on February 11, 1731 (Old Style), as Britain was using the Julian calendar. After the switch, that day became February 22, which is the date commonly given as Washington's birthday.[1]


The proleptic Gregorian calendar is explicitly required for all dates before 1582 by ISO 8601:2004 (clause The Gregorian calendar) if the partners to information exchange agree. It is also used by most Maya scholars,[2] especially when converting Long Count dates (1st century BC – 10th century).

The best practice for historians quoting contemporary documents is to give the date as in the original and to add as a note any contextual clues, conclusions about the calendar used and equivalents in other calendrical systems. This gives others the opportunity to re-evaluate the evidence.[3]

For these calendars one can distinguish two systems of numbering years BC. Bede and later historians did not use the Latin zero, nulla, as a year (see 0 (year)), so the year preceding AD 1 is 1 BC. In this system the year 1 BC is a leap year (likewise in the proleptic Julian calendar). Mathematically, it is more convenient to include a year 0 and represent earlier years as negative, for the specific purpose of facilitating the calculation of the number of years between a negative (BC) year and a positive (AD) year. This is the convention used in astronomical year numbering and in the international standard date system, ISO 8601. In these systems, the year 0 is a leap year.[4]

Although the nominal Julian calendar began in 45 BC, leap years between 45 BC and 1 BC were irregular (see Leap year error). Thus the Julian calendar with quadrennial leap years was only used from the end of AD 4 until 1582 or later.

The proleptic Gregorian calendar is sometimes used in computer software to simplify the handling of older dates. For example, it is the calendar used by PostgreSQL,[5] MySQL,[6] SQLite,[7] PHP, CIM, Delphi, Python[8] and COBOL.

Difference between Julian and proleptic Gregorian calendar dates

Before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, the differences between Julian and proleptic Gregorian calendar dates are as follows:

The table below assumes a Julian leap day of 29 February, but the Julian leap day (the bissextile day) was ante diem bis sextum Kalendas Martias in Latin or 24 February (see Julian reform), so dates between 24 and 29 February in all leap years were irregular.

Note: When converting a date in a year which is leap in one calendar but not the other, include 29 February in the calculation when the conversion crosses the border between February and March.

Julian range Proleptic Gregorian range Gregorian ahead by:
From 3 March AD 4
(beginning of quadrennial leap years)
to 1 March 100
From 1 March AD 4
to 28 February 100
−2 days
From 2 March 100
to 29 February 200
From 1 March 100
to 28 February 200
−1 days
From 1 March 200
to 28 February 300
From 1 March 200
to 28 February 300
0 days
From 29 February 300
to 27 February 500
From 1 March 300
to 28 February 500
1 day
From 28 February 500
to 26 February 600
From 1 March 500
to 28 February 600
2 days
From 27 February 600
to 25 February 700
From 1 March 600
to 28 February 700
3 days
From 26 February 700
to 24 February 900
From 1 March 700
to 28 February 900
4 days
From 25 February 900
to 23 February 1000
From 1 March 900
to 28 February 1000
5 days
From 24 February 1000
to 22 February 1100
From 1 March 1000
to 28 February 1100
6 days
From 23 February 1100
to 21 February 1300
From 1 March 1100
to 28 February 1300
7 days
From 22 February 1300
to 20 February 1400
From 1 March 1300
to 28 February 1400
8 days
From 21 February 1400
to 19 February 1500
From 1 March 1400
to 28 February 1500
9 days
From 20 February 1500
to 4 October 1582
From 1 March 1500
to 14 October 1582
10 days

See also


  1. "George Washington's Birthday". National Archives. n.d. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  2. The proceedings of the Maya hieroglyphic workshop. University of Texas. 1992. p. 173.
  3. Spathaky, Mike Old Style New Style dates and the change to the Gregorian calendar. "increasingly parish registers, in addition to a new year heading after 24th March showing, for example '1733', had another heading at the end of the following December indicating '1733/4'. This showed where the New Style 1734 started even though the Old Style 1733 continued until 24th March. .. We as historians have no excuse for creating ambiguity and must keep to the notation described above in one of its forms. It is no good writing simply 20th January 1745, for a reader is left wondering whether we have used the Old or the New Style reckoning. The date should either be written 20th January 1745 O.S. (if indeed it was Old Style) or as 20th January 1745/6. The hyphen (1745-6) is best avoided as it can be interpreted as indicating a period of time."
  4. Doggett, L. E. (1992). "Calendars". In P. Kenneth Seidelmann. Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac. Sausalito, California: University Science Books. ISBN 0-935702-68-7.
  5. "B.4. History of Units". PostgreSQL Documentation.
  6. "11.8. What Calendar Is Used By MySQL?". MySQL 5.0 Reference Manual. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  7. "Date And Time Functions". SQL As Understood By SQLite. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  8. "8.1.3. date Objects". Python v2.7.2 documentation.
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