Leaping Forward

On display is an excerpt from an enormous day-by-day chronicle of Lenin’s life, the details of which fill 13 volumes in this 1970s edition.  We see here the first entry for February 1918.  It does not, however, start with the first of February, for this was the month in which the Bolsheviks leapt from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian: they went to bed on 31 January 1918 and woke up on 14 February.

The change of calendar was greeted with horror by the Whites, for whom the old calendar had national and spiritual significance.  Under house arrest in Tobolsk, the former emperor Nicholas II wrote in his diary that he had discovered only that day about the decree – “so today turns out to be the 14th of February.  There will be no end to misunderstandings and confusion!”  White forces and émigrés would continue to use the Julian calendar for many years to come.

The Lenin chronicle gives details of a wide variety of activities undertaken on this, the first day of the new calendar.  The final entry for the day records his gift to his sister Mariia of a copy of his book State and revolution, writing the dedication “To dear Maniasha from the author. 14.II.1918”.

Vladimir Il’ich Lenin : biograficheskaia khronika (volume 5; 1974) 231.c.97.497