Table of Contents
with links to the online pages
Note: The Act (above) specifies "on or before the twenty-fifth day of March..."
Why was this particular date chosen? Today, in the twenty-first century, we do
not attach any particular significance to the date March 25th, but that date was a
special day to people of the time. Today we attach special significance to the
first day of January, New Year's Day. In the English colonies of North America,
in the 1730s and 1740s, March 25th was New Year's Day.
For people using the Julian Calendar, the New Year began on March 25th.
This date had been the first day of the New Year for many centuries.
In the English colonies of North America – Nova Scotia, Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, etc. –
which, like England itself, used the Julian Calendar, March 25th was
New Year's Day. This arrangement continued until 1752, when the civil
calendar (the calendar used for everyday purposes such as dating leases
and rent payments and newspapers and shipping schedules) was legally
changed from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar, and New Year's Day
was changed from March 25th to January 1st.
The official date of the beginning of the New Year had been changed in 1752,
but this was only six years before the passage of this Act (above), and everyone
then in positions of authority had spent their formative years with that date,
March 25th, as one of the most prominent special days in each year of their lives,
and whoever selected March 25th as the deadline no doubt was strongly
influenced by this long-standing tradition.
Why was March 25th chosen as the first day of the New Year?
One conjecture is that March 25th is exactly nine months before December 25th.
That old-time New Year's Day, March 25th, still exerts a strong,
but rarely recognized, influence on our modern calendar.
Can you identify this influence?
What well-known feature of our modern everyday
calendar is a relic from those days long ago,
when the New Year began on March 25th?
Explanation of the modern remnant of the March 25th New Year