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 The date of New Year

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: The date of New Year   Mon 01 Jan 2018, 17:43

I’ve been reading a few of Ellis Peters’ "Cadfael" stories, and in more than one she makes reference to the new year starting on 1st January - not just in general terms of the days starting to get longer but as a specific date marking the change from one numbered year to the next. Now, while I was actually quite happy to accept this for narrative purposes, I had thought that in medieval England the new year was generally held to start on 25th March, The Feast of the Annunciation also known as Lady Day. However a quick look on-line shows that Peters was entirely correct and that in the mid 12th century – following from an edict by William I  in 1066 – the new year was indeed held to start on 1st January, and it was only later, though I can't find when exactly, it was changed to 25th March.
 
The date that marks the new year is of course, like the whole calendar, essentially an artificial human construct, but as a choice 1st January does at least have some logic: it is at the beginning of a month and close to the solstice. Indeed it is arguably a better date than the actual solstice itself (the 21st December) as it is about the day when the position of the rising sun starts to visibly move again after about 2 weeks of staying-still (the literal meaning of solstice).
 
But all this immediately prompts the question: if the New Year was fixed as 1st January in the 11th century, why was it later changed to the 25th March  … and then back to starting on 1st January? The January 1st date was adopted as marking the New Year in Scotland in 1600, but England and Wales only adopted it in 1752. So, for example, the official date for Charles I's execution was recorded as 30th January 1648 in England but as 30th January 1649 in Scotland. Other countries were even slower than England in changing ... Greece didn't adopt 1st January as the start of the Year until 1923.

But at least in Britain, as far as I’m aware, the start of the New Year was never tied to Easter. Easter is of course a moveable feast and so the actual date changes every year … nevertheless from the 11th to 16thcenturies, France started the new year on Good Friday ... so sometimes there were two New Years within a 365 day period, and it was possible for some dates to occur twice in the same year, necessitating dates to be specified as before or after Easter, as well as various other fudges to the calendar. So again why did it take so long to standardise across Europe (and eventually most of the world) on starting the New Year on 1st January?
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Mon 01 Jan 2018, 22:00

I don't know the answer to this (or even the question really!) but I have occasionally recently wondered about the birthdates of people born before the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar.  Are their birthdates the dates at the time before the change or after?
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Mon 01 Jan 2018, 22:02

Meles meles,

you brought me in confusion, no to be honest it were, the wikis which brought me in confusion...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Style_and_New_Style_dates
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Day
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendar_(New_Style)_Act_1750
From wiki.
"From 1155 to 1752, the civil or legal year in England began on 25 March (Lady Day)[7][8] so for example the execution of Charles I was recorded at the time in Parliament as happening on 30 January 1648 (Old Style).[9] In modern English language texts this date is usually shown as "30 January 1649" (New Style).[2] The corresponding date in the Gregorian calendar is 9 February 1649, the date by which his contemporaries in some parts of continental Europe would have recorded his execution."
I easely understand the change from the Julian to the Gregoarian calender as it was overhere too.
What I don't understand is for example the execution of Charles I on  legal year 30 January 1648 (Julian calendar) has to be in my opinion Lady Day 25 March 1648 + 30 days from the 30 January legal year is the corresponding 24 April 1648 (Julian calendar) or the corresponding 4 May 1648 (Gregorian calendar)? If someone can correct me...or is the start of the Julian legal 1 January 1648 corresponding with the 25 March of the Julian natural year of 1649? And then it has to be 24 April 1649?

Better stop Meles meles... I hope I didn't make this 1 January miserable for you Wink ...

Kind regards from Paul, your friend on this first January as on any other time of the year...
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Tue 02 Jan 2018, 14:46

The change from the Julian to the Gregorian calender is a separate - though related - matter. What I was referring to was that from some point in the Middle Ages (which I still haven't precisely determined) up until 1752, the New Year was deemed to start, not on 1st Jan, but on 25th March.

So, for example: 30th December 1600, was followed by 31st December 1600, was followed by 1st January 1600 ... and so on until 24th March 1600, which was then followed by the New Year, 25th March 1601.

As Caro says it creates a lot of confusion and uncertainty ... and somewhat un-necessarily so, as the Roman New Year started on 1st January, and it seems this practice continued (in England) at least until the 12th century, but then at some point it changed to 25th March, only to then change back again to 1st January.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Tue 02 Jan 2018, 15:23

The combination of the New Year and the calendar change still cast a long shadow - the financial year and tax year still run from 6th April (i.e. Lady Day + the Julian / Gregorian adjustment).
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Tue 02 Jan 2018, 21:40

@Meles meles wrote:
The change from the Julian to the Gregorian calender is a separate - though related - matter. What I was referring to was that from some point in the Middle Ages (which I still haven't precisely determined) up until 1752, the New Year was deemed to start, not on 1st Jan, but on 25th March.

So, for example: 30th December 1600, was followed by 31st December 1600, was followed by 1st January 1600 ... and so on until 24th March 1600, which was then followed by the New Year, 25th March 1601.

As Caro says it creates a lot of confusion and uncertainty ... and somewhat un-necessarily so, as the Roman New Year started on 1st January, and it seems this practice continued (in England) at least until the 12th century, but then at some point it changed to 25th March, only to then change back again to 1st January.
Meles meles,

"So, for example: 30th December 1600, was followed by 31st December 1600, was followed by 1st January 1600 ... and so on until 24th March 1600, which was then followed by the New Year, 25th March 1601."

I think I now understand it. They changed not the date, they changed only the year to the next year, 1600 to 1601 on the 24 March of 1600? Yes and then is the wiki right...
Thanks in any case for your enlightenment.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Tue 02 Jan 2018, 21:45

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
The combination of the New Year and the calendar change still cast a long shadow - the financial year and tax year still run from 6th April (i.e. Lady Day + the Julian / Gregorian adjustment).


Yes Gilgamesh  in our American multinational in the time and I suppose still now a lot was focused on the fiscal years starting in April. On the first of April if I recall it well Wink )

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Tue 02 Jan 2018, 21:52

Actually if memory serves from a Radio 4 program some years ago on this topic,  letters and documents from Jan to March 25th often carry the date in the form "1600 - 1601".

Re Roman calendars - see https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/roman-calendar.html. It seems March was indeed the first month of the year in the calendar of Romulus (edited that - Romulan calendar might be confusing).
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Tue 02 Jan 2018, 21:55

@PaulRyckier wrote:


Yes Gilgamesh  in our American multinational in the time and I suppose still now a lot was focused on the fiscal years starting in April. On the first of April if I recall it well Wink )

Kind regards from Paul.
Well, firms do choose their financial years to suit themselves - and I recall when English Electric was taken over by General Electric, we had a 15-month year. Caused a lot of grief in the (fairly rudimentary by today's standards) computer department.
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PostSubject: Re: The date of New Year   Wed 03 Jan 2018, 20:54

@Meles meles wrote:
from some point in the Middle Ages (which I still haven't precisely determined) up until 1752, the New Year was deemed to start, not on 1st Jan, but on 25th March.

I had thought that it was related to the Avignon papacy and the subsequent papal schism in the 14th century but can't find any real evidence supporting this with regard to dating reform. Another possibility would be the Council of Tours in 1163, an ecclesiastical congress which fulminated against the Cathars and the study of physics among other things but again no specific reference to the calendar or the new year. This is a tricky one.
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