See all History Matters transcripts on Youtube

youtube thumbnail

Why did the Soviet Calendar fail? (Short Animated Documentary)

3 minutes 3 seconds

Speaker 1

00:00:00 - 00:00:28

Throughout European history, there have been many attempts to reform the calendar. Perhaps the most famous was during the French Revolution, where its leaders opted to change the calendar to something less religion-y. But 1 attempt that's less well-known was when the government of the USSR adopted a reformed Gregorian calendar in 1929, which changed the 7-day week to a 5-day 1 and later into a 6-day week. This calendar was changed back to the same 1 that the rest of the Western world used in 1940. Which raises the question, why?

Speaker 1

00:00:28 - 00:00:54

Why did the Soviet calendar fail? When the Russian Revolution was over and the previous government was... Unavailable, Lenin and his comrades sought to reform the way that society worked and 1 of their first acts was to move away from the old Julian calendar. Yet in the late 1920s Soviet ministers were concerned that there wasn't enough work going on in the workers' state. The problem was that those who were doing the work were quite fond of things like having Sundays off, and given the Soviet leadership's dislike of all things religious, something had to be done.

Speaker 1

00:00:54 - 00:01:17

1 of the long-standing proposals had been to radically reform the calendar. This was largely ridiculed because it was seen as being excessive and also very difficult to implement. That was until Stalin came across the idea and gave it his approval. At which point it promptly became the greatest idea since some German fellow wrote a pamphlet. And so with this the top minds of the USSR came up with a brand new calendar, 1 in which there were 5 days in a week and 6 weeks in a month.

Speaker 1

00:01:17 - 00:01:36

Across these 5 days, 1 fifth of its workforce would have a different day off. Months with 31 days would see a six-day work week and everybody got 5 national holidays off. This way, workers would be more rested than the previous 1 in 7 days they had off. Employers would also have 80% of their workforce available at all times. And Sundays would importantly be robbed of their religious significance.

Speaker 1

00:01:36 - 00:01:53

In 1929 and 1930, the new calendar was brought in across numerous industries. Importantly, this new calendar wasn't meant to replace the Gregorian calendar that most people used. This new 1 was just used alongside it so people would know when they were working. So why did the USSR get rid of it? Well, there were numerous problems.

Speaker 1

00:01:53 - 00:02:25

The first was that Sundays had previously been used to repair machinery and catch up on any unfinished work in the previous week, which thus could no longer be done. Another problem was that many people became disgruntled since their days off and those of their friends and families didn't match up. As such, the central government came up with a new idea, the six-day week. This meant that everybody would do more work, and furthermore, an employer would give everybody the 6th, the 12th, the 18th, the 24th and the 30th of every month off. This didn't fix all of the problems, and combined with the fact that many industries hadn't really adopted the calendar at all, Stalin opted to abandon the idea in 1940.

Speaker 1

00:02:26 - 00:02:51

Everybody returned to the 7-day work week and employers were free to give people whichever days off they wanted. So long as they met their targets, that is. I hope you enjoyed this episode and a special thanks to my patrons... Rod D. Martin, Words About Books Podcast, Captain Psydog, Gustav Swan, Marvin Casal, Camoon Yoon, Winston K.

Speaker 1

00:02:51 - 00:02:51

Wood, Boogily Woogily, Daniel Tobian, Miss Isette, Aaron the White, Corey Turner, The McWhopper, Alex Schwin, Anthony Beckett, Copper Tone, Maggie Patskowski, Shuenin, Spinning 3 plates and Charles I.