After Russia and other revolutionary governments adopted the western Gregorian Calendar in the wake of World War I, the colonels in Greece suddenly issued a decree on January 18 replacing the old Julian calendar with the Gregorian civil calendar by declaring that Thursday 16 February would be Thursday 1 March, skipping thirteen days in February 1923.
The Greek Orthodox church authorities opposed the reform, and Gilbert obviously enjoyed describing the consequences. Gilbert was bemused by the curious situations resulting from the Greeks’ calendrical manipulations.
“The result for a foreigner living in Greece of the abolition of the Julian calendar is at first confusing, but when one has become used to it, it presents considerable advantages. The duplication of all feast days enables the foreigner to live, especially in winter, in a perpetual round of festivity. The prospect of two birthdays a year commends itself to many young people. Their elders, too, find it useful to be able to antedate letters which they have postponed writing, without fear of being given away by the post-mark.
All this is to be done away with, and we foreign residents will no longer be able to lead double lives. The decree which has been submitted today for the Royal consent (the Committee occasionally remembers that Greece is still a Monarchy) orders that February 16 (Old Style) is to be termed March 1, and that, therefore, the month of February is to be considered as only having 15 days. In all this the Government is only following the example of Romania, which adopted the Gregorian calendar at the end of the war.
The only opposition to the measure comes from the Church, which cannot admit that the Greeks should celebrate Christmas thirteen days before, say, the Serbians. The result is that the Gregorian Calendar is only to apply to civil affairs, the ecclesiastical calendar remaining Julian. Therefore next Christmas will fall on January 7, 1924 – a strange date for Christmas! The Greek Government, however, in union with the Holy Synod of Athens, will ask the Ecumenical Patriarch to consider the advisability of adopting the Gregorian Calendar for all the autocephalous Orthodox churches.”
As Gilbert predicted, in Greece the secular calendar year of 1923 had no Christmas until January 6, 1924, after the secular New Year’s Day! This anomaly forced the Orthodox Church to compromise in accepting the Gregorian calendar for all holidays except Greek Easter, which it would continue to determine itself. Some years later, the American School’s Assistant Director, Carl Blegen, wrote a similar essay entitled ‘The Christmasless Year of 1923.’ <http://nataliavogeikoff.com/2013/12>