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Inicio > Historias > Un año bisiesto y con Semana Santa adelantada [en El País]

> Un año bisiesto y con Semana Santa adelantada [en El País] <

- Este año bisiesto de 2016 la Semana Santa se celebra inusualmente pronto
- La fijación astronómica de la fecha pascual dio lugar a la reforma actual del calendario


Este artículo ha sido publicado en la versión digital del periódico El País/Materia/"Crónicas de AstroManía" con fecha 27 de enero de 2016


«Según la tradición hebrea, la noche en que tuvo lugar la huida de Egipto había luna llena, por lo que los judíos pudieron apagar sus lámparas para no ser descubiertos por los soldados del faraón». Este suceso tan lejano, aunque cercano en lo astronómico, condiciona todavía hoy nuestra agenda. Si nos parece que la Semana Santa cae demasiado pronto este año bisiesto de 2016, es necesario hacer un poco de historia para saber la razón.

El acontecimiento citado es celebrado en la llamada pascua judía que, por tanto, cada año ha de coincidir con una noche de luna llena. Jesucristo, judío, celebró dicha pascua durante la hoy denominada ‘última cena’, así que nuestra propia tradición cristiana adoptó este hecho casi como suyo. En concreto, y evitando confundir ambas tradiciones, ya desde el año 525 de nuestra Era se decidió en la Iglesia Católica que la pascua de Resurrección -unos días posterior a la judía- se celebrara el primer domingo siguiente a la primera luna llena después del comienzo de la primavera (20 o 21 de marzo). Si miramos el calendario de 2016, observaremos que el equinoccio de primavera es el día 20 de marzo, y la primera luna llena sólo tres días más tarde, por lo que el domingo de Pascua será el día 27 de marzo. Por eso siempre veremos una luna llena durante la Semana Santa.

Pero no todo es tan sencillo. O, al menos, no lo fue en su momento. Para que las cosas funcionen bien tenemos que encajar el calendario astronómico -el que marca la posición del equinoccio de referencia- con el calendario civil y religioso, basado en días completos. Y es que el tiempo que tarda la Tierra en dar una vuelta alrededor del Sol -un año- no es un múltiplo exacto de rotaciones sobre sí misma -un día-. En concreto, un año astronómico (año ‘trópico’) dura 365 días, 5 horas y casi 49 minutos. El problema de relacionar años con días completos fue bastante bien resuelto por el romano Julio César y sus sabios egipcios allá por el año 50 antes del propio Cristo. Como en números redondos un año son 365 días y un cuarto, cada cuatro años de 365 días habría de añadirse un día adicional (el famoso bisiesto, como es este de 2016). Y así hemos funcionado bastante bien durante muchos siglos, con el propiamente llamado calendario ‘juliano’, hasta que los hechos toparon con la realidad. Es decir, con la Iglesia haciéndonos la Pascua.


Celebración de la Última Cena por el pintor Juan de Juanes (1562, Museo del Prado), cuadro en el que Jesucristo parece sostener la propia luna llena


La corrección romana contenía un pequeño error intrínseco, puesto que redondeaba los casi 49 minutos a los 60 de una hora. Esto significaba que cada año se introducían en el calendario litúrgico bisiesto unos 11 minutos de más, por lo que poco a poco se iba alejando del astronómico. En el siglo XVI el error acumulado desde la implantación de la regla pascual era tal que el equinoccio primaveral -supuestamente, el 21 de marzo- había ocurrido el 11 de marzo, diez días antes. Y continuaba subiendo. Para resolver este desaguisado, el papa de turno, Gregorio XIII, recurrió de forma conjunta a Dios y a las matemáticas, confluyendo por fortuna estos factores en el enorme astrónomo -tanto por su tamaño físico como por su sabiduría-, Christopher Clavius. Clavius, alemán y jesuita, fue coetáneo y amigo de Galileo, con quien tuvo sus más y sus menos al respecto de sus muy distintas concepciones del Universo, puesto que se mantuvo siempre fiel al geocentrismo. Corrigió de forma ingeniosa el calendario juliano, y lo hizo añadiendo una cláusula adicional: “Un año será bisiesto si es divisible por 4, pero no lo será si además es divisible por 100. Con la excepción de los divisibles por 100 y 400 a la vez, que sí lo serán”. Pongamos un ejemplo sencillo: el año 1900 no fue bisiesto, como no lo será el 2100, pero sí lo fue el más reciente año 2000. Para rematar su trabajo, el papa Gregorio -por indicación del gran Clavius- tuvo que resetear el calendario mediante la pertinente bula, eliminando de golpe los diez días de más acumulados hasta esa fecha, y así al jueves 4 de octubre de 1582 (del calendario juliano) le siguió el viernes 15 de octubre de 1582 (del calendario ya conocido como ‘gregoriano’). El trabajo de Clavius fue tan bueno que perdura hoy en día y solo tiene un error estimado de un día cada 3300 años.

El cambio de fechas por mor de la precisión astronómica tuvo un curioso impacto según fuera el lugar del mundo y su fecha de aplicación. Así es bien conocida la anécdota del tránsito de santa Teresa, ocurrido justo en la noche referida del 4 de octubre de 1582, por lo que suele decirse que fue enterrada muchos días después de su muerte, aunque su inhumación fuera inmediata. Otro tanto ocurre con los óbitos de Miguel de Cervantes y William Shakespeare que, aunque datados ambos el 23 de abril de 1616, sucedieron con diez días de diferencia, puesto que los ingleses tardaron en aceptar el cambio de calendario de bastante mala gana casi dos siglos. En cualquier caso, y después de la adopción generalizada en todo el mundo del calendario gregoriano, los años astronómico y civil son en la práctica coincidentes, y las peculiaridades de la fijación de la fecha pascual por parte de la Iglesia no presentan mayores problemas.

Por tanto, si queremos saber con antelación cuándo podremos disfrutar de unos pocos días de asueto o de penitencia, según sea el gusto, caso o pecados de cada cual, no tenemos más que mirar al Cielo y hacer unas sencillas cuentas. Y ya puestos, observar una estupenda luna llena.

2016-01-30 19:14 | joven | 78 Comentarios | #

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