Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Happy New Year Quarter Days Lady Day 2015

How we decide to divide the year into different time periods  intrigues me.

 There are those who , quite straight faced , will refer to their diaries  and say out aloud today is Tuesday in "week 13". ( Not very romantic)

 Others will say we are in the fourth week of the month of March , today is the 25th  .

 Few however would say today is the first day of the new year.  Happy new year. 

Happy Lady day !       Yet back in the day.......

You get a sort of a hint that the calendar got changed back in time from those  advertisements that abound at this time of the year using the caution close for those propsects who save through ISAs. 

The ads warn them to use up their allowance before the end of the year – the tax year. 

The British tax year still starts on 'Old' Lady Day -6th April under the Gregorian calendar which corresponded to 25 March under the Julian calendar ( 11 days new style calendar advance in 18th century plus 1 day due to the twelfth skipped Julian leap day in 1800; however it was not changed to 7 April when a thirteenth Julian leap day was skipped in 1900)

The current  Government sets a limit on how much you can invest and save in ISAs each tax year (from 06 April one year to 05 April the next). 

This is known as the ISA allowance. It usually increases each year, but you don't have to use it all if you don't want to. 

You can also split your ISA allowance between a Stocks and Shares ISA and a Cash ISA each year if you like. This is not to advise you to do so- I am NOT a financial adviser. 

Apparently ISAs are going out of vogue according to some in the financial press..

Back in the day in 1155 , the new year was celebrated on Lady Day. ( Indeed Richard III , much in the press again this week, would have seen Lady day as the first day of the year - more about him tomorrow by the  way)

Annunciation by Philippe de Champaigne
 at the Wallace Collection. London
In the western liturgical year, Lady Day is the traditional name of the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin (25 March) 

It is the first of the four traditional English quarter days.

 The "Lady" referred to is the Blessed Virgin Mary. The term derives from Middle English. "Lady" would later gain an -s genitive ending, and hence the name  "Lady's day".

Between 1155 and 1752 the  new year began on Lady Day from 

Prior to 1752 in England, the year began on 25 March (Lady Day).  It is a Quarter day

The Quarter Days,  are still used in legal profession. 

The Quarter Days divide the year in quarters (hence the name , and the Quarter Days are:
 Lady Day (25 March), 
Midsummer Day (24 June), 
Michaelmas Day (29 September), 
and Christmas Day (25 December). 

The quarter days have been observed at least since the Middle Ages, and they ensured that debts and unresolved lawsuits were not allowed to linger on.

Accounts had to be settled, a reckoning had to be made and publicly recorded on the quarter days

Now the confusing bit !

So, in England, the day after 24 March 1642 was 25 March 1643. The Act changed this, so that the day after 31 December 1751 was 1 January 1752. As a consequence, 1751 was a short year - it ran only from 25 March to 31 December. 

To throw some more confusion on the issue, Scotland had changed the first day of the year to 1 January in 1600 (in 1600, Scotland was a separate kingdom).

In September 1752, Great Britain  officially switched from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. 

In order to achieve the change, 11 days were 'omitted' from the calendar - i.e. the day after 2 September 1752 was 14 September 1752.

Even today
A lease will often specify that the rent and/or service charges  are payable on "the usual quarter days".

Back in Regency times (1811 -1820) business premises, might be rented for less than a full year.

 A successful, well-established merchant might very well lease their shop for a term of multiple years.

However, someone just starting out might choose to rent for a single quarter (three months) at a time, while they worked to build their clientèle and establish their business.

In such cases, the merchant would be expected to pay their rent every quarter day.

The partial-year rental of properties included houses outside of London, for example in Bath, and less grand lodgings, even those in the metropolis, which might be let to less fashionable people.

People might rent a house in the Spa town of Bath for a quarter or two, if they were there for a cure, or to escape the hustle and bustle of London.

 In most cases, they would still rent a house for some number of quarters, but unless their particular plans required it, it was not necessary to sign the contract by Lady Day.

Less affluent people, in London, or any other city during the Regency, might rent lodgings on a monthly or weekly basis. In those cases, they would then have to pay their rent monthly or weekly.

However you organise you calendar, pay your rent may I wish you a Happy Lady's Day 

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