Old Style vs. New Style years

Updated February 23, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

The Question:

Your 2/11/1731 O.S. date of birth for George Washington is off by one year. It should be 2/11/1732 O.S.

The Answer:

Our encyclopedia entry for George Washington gives his birthday as Feb. 22, 1732 in our current calendar, and Feb. 11, 1731, Old Style. At first glance, this seems absurd; while the Julian calendar that used to be used wandered off course over the centuries, the difference amounted to eleven days at that point, not a year and eleven days.

There's one more detail, however: under the calendar in use when Washington was born, the year began on March 25, not January 1. As a result, February 11, 1731 O.S. is, in fact, February 22, 1732 in our current system.

-The Fact Monster

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