Sunday, December 23, 2012

Exactly when does the new year start? (Reductio ad absurdum 3)

OK I promised in an earlier blog to tell you how September, October, November and December got their names so this is from my genealogy site
    Before 1751 the year started on 'Lady Day' - 25 March. Until then, we used the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE) in the UK. This meant that 31 December 1740 was followed by 1 Jan 1740 and continued until 24 March 1740. The next day was 25 March 1741. This causes a lot of confusion to people researching their family history, so in the years before 1752, you may find dates in transcripts referred to as January 03 1740/1, indicating that this was the 3 January 1740 by the calendar at the time but, 1741 by our calendar. This double dating is used only on dates between 1 January and 24 March.

    By 1751, it was realised that the Julian calendar did not keep pace with the Sun and that Easter was arriving later each year. A change was made to the Gregorian calendar (named after the Pope who worked it out), this meant the dates ran as follows:
    • 1750 ran from 25 March to 24 March, 365 days
    • 1751 ran from 25 March to 31 December, 282 days
    • 1752 ran from 1 January to 31 December, 354 days. It should have been a leap year but, the 29 Feb. and 11 days from the 3rd tothe 13th September were missed out to bring the calendar back in line with the Sun).
    • 1753 ran from 1 January to 31 December, 365 days
    The change in calendar upset quiet a lot of people, there were riots in some parts of the country where people felt that 11 days were being stolen from their life.

    The tax authorities never worked up the courage to tax people twice in less than 365 days and if you add 11 days to 25 March, you will find the date is 6 April - the start of the new tax year in the UK.

    You should note that Roman Catholic countries had changed to the Gregorian calendar by papal edict in October 1582. Protistent countries were slow to adopt the much better Gregorian calendar. The UK was one of the earliest to adopt it; others did not do so until the 20th Century.

    By the Julian calendar, September was the 7th month (Sep being the prefix for 7 as in septuagenarian , October the 8th month (oct meaning 8 as in octopus), November the 9th month and December the 10th month, hence their names. 

    Incidentally, this was not the first time the calendar had been reformed but, is the only one you are likely to come across.
    • From the sixth century to 1066, the year ran from Christmas Day to the 24 December;
    • From 1067 to 1155, the year ran from the 1 January to 31 December; 
    • From 1156 to 1751, the year ran from 25 March to 24 March.
That means the months September to December relate to the months following Lady Day - the 'Lady' in question being the Virgin Mary. 

Maybe we should re-name those months also to avoid offending non-Christians?

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