The tradition of January 1st as New Year’s Day is fairly recent, in the grand scheme of things. Before 1752 Britain followed the Julian calendar and the New Year started on 25th March (Lady Day), which was also the official start of the tax year.
However the Julian calendar had an inbuilt error, due to a miscalculation of the solar year. To get over this problem, the Gregorian calendar was introduced, with a leap year every 4 years. Many countries in Western Europe had adopted the Gregorian calendar earlier on, and by 1752 the British calendar was out of line with the rest of Europe by 11 days. So it was decided that Wednesday 2nd September 1752 would be followed by Thursday 14th September 1752.
To avoid losing 11 days of tax revenue, the date of the new tax year was changed to 5th April in 1753. Another change was made in 1800, as this would have been a leap year in the Julian calendar, but not in the new Gregorian calendar. So the tax year was extended by a day and the start date changed to 6th April, where it remains to this day.
Some people took advantage of the 11 ‘lost days’. There is a tale about one William Willett of Endon who apparently wagered that he could dance non-stop for 12 days and 12 nights. On the evening of September 2nd 1752, he started to jig around the village and continued all through the night. The next morning, September 14th by the new calendar, he stopped dancing and claimed his bets!
Other people were not so pleased, as they mistakenly believed that their lives would be shortened by 11 days.
2017 appeared to pass so quickly to me that it seemed as though more than 11 days had been ‘lost’ from the year. My resolve for 2018: to try to live one day at a time and to make the most of each day as it comes. Jesus said, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today’. Matthew 6.34
I recently came across this ‘Recipe for a Happy New Year’
Take twelve whole months.
Cleanse them thoroughly of all bitterness, hate, and jealousy.
Make them as fresh and clean as possible.
Now cut each month into twenty-eight, thirty, or thirty-one different parts, but don't make up the whole batch at once. Prepare it one day at a time. Mix well into each day one part of faith, one part of patience, one part of courage, and one part of work.
Add to each day one part of hope, faithfulness, generosity, and kindness.
Blend with one part prayer, one part meditation, and one good deed.
Season the whole with a dash of good spirits, a sprinkle of fun, a pinch of play, and a cupful of good humour.
Pour all of this into a vessel of love.
Cook thoroughly over radiant joy, garnish with a smile.