By Sharon Archer
A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a tricky calendar change - today, I’m back with another one!
The beginning of the year is 1st January… isn’t it?
Well, yes, it is now… but it wasn’t always.
In the ‘Old Style’ or Julian Calendar, the first day of the year was Lady Day or the 25th of March.
Lady Day was quite a logical start to the year in the agrarian societies of our forebears. It was close to the spring equinox and nature was beginning to stir after the dormant months of winter. People were preparing to start the farming cycle for another year. Market towns held hiring-fairs for servants and land tenancies were settled then too.
It’s also the festival day for the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (Our Lady), from which it gets its name - Lady Day.
But, in 1751, Chesterfield’s Act changed that and made January 1st the first day of the year. This meant that 1751 consisted of just over nine months.
- While 1751 ran from 25 March to 31 December
- And the year after - 1752 - the year settled into the pattern we’re familiar with, 1 January to 31 December
There are still traces of this change in the Latin origins of four of our months.
- September is the ninth month but Septem means seven
- October is the tenth month but Octo means eight
- November is the eleventh month but Novem means nine &
- December is the twelfth month but Decem means ten
So spare a thought for our UK ancestors, as they grappled with the major changes to their calendar. In 1751, they had a nine-month year and then in 1752, they had that eleven-day adjustment! No wonder there were riots!
What would you have thought? Would you have found it confusing? Would you have wondered what the governing elite were up to?
PSI was late getting back to announce the winner of the book I gave away with the Calendar Daze, Part 1, so I’m announcing it again now. It’s Sylvia! Sylvia, could you please contact me on sharon (at) sharon-archer (dot) com with your address?