Thursday, July 20, 2006


I've often wondered why, here in the UK, our tax year starts on 6th April.

After having checked out the Wikipedia article on the Gregorian Calendar, I have the answer.

25th March was traditionally New Year's Day here in Britain, so the tax year, naturally, began on the same day. Then, in 1752, we adopted the Gregorian Calendar. 25th March magically became 5th April! Then it gets confusing... A 12th skipped Julian leap day in 1800 changed its start to 6 April. It was not changed when a 13th Julian leap day was skipped in 1900, so the tax year in the United Kingdom is still 6 April.

It's not clear when we adopted 1st January as New Year's Day.

I thought this was really interesting. Imagine, no-one here in the UK would have had a birthdate of, for example, 28th March 1752!

This leads to all kinds of weirdness. Was 20th April 1394 really 20th April 1394 or was it 9th April? Or was it 1st May? See, now I'm confused! Are you, dear reader?

This would be a fabulous basis for a Doctor Who story. The TARDIS materialises in London. The on-board calendar tells The Doctor and Martha that it's 2nd April 1752. Everything seems fine at first, but of course, it isn't...!

And do we celebrate pre-1752 dates in their Gregorian or Julian form?

Why are we here?

What's the meaning of life?


Kapitano said...
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Kapitano said...

Dates get more confusing if you're talking about Russian history. The Russian Orthodox Church, more to declare it's independance from Rome than any good reason, refused to adopt the Gregorian Calander when most of Europe did so.

In fact, Russia still uses the Julian system, in spite of efforts by the Bolsheviks to change it. Which means the famous (Julian) October revolution happened in (Gregorian) November.

Modern historians outside Russia generally use the Julian calendar for events before the revolution, and Gregorian for events afterwards.

Which gets a bit confusing when discussing the events of the revolution itself.

Oh, and I think whether we celebrate pre-1752 events in Julian or Gregorian depends on whether we started to celebrate them before 1752. If we did, it's Julian, if we didn't, it's Gregorian.

I bet you're really glad you asked.

PS. Most of the Islamic world uses a calendar starting from the birth of Mohammed.

Kapitano said...

PPS. There's also the Chinese calendar.

Minge said...

Christ! And the Jews have a different calendar/year, too, don't they!?!? Thanks for all the info.

Paul F Cockburn said...

Didn't Lawrence Miles write something about those "missing" days in the Faction Paradox storyline?

Paul F Cockburn said...
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Brian said...

There's a cool short story by Harlan Ellison called "Paladin of the Lost Hour" that touches on the consequences of that missing time.

ucallmemadam said...

The Japanese use the year of the emperor's reign.

alan said...

In Ireland our new tax year also started in April as well, but a few years back the Government said "Hang on a minute here, what's all this April malarkey about?" and changed it to the first day of the calendar year.

I'm sure, actually, that the point of your post wasn't to get comments like I've just typed there, but sure hey, there you go.

I will try and address your question about the meaning of life though.

42, isn't it?

Minge said...

Paul and Brian - I'm going to check these out. Thank you.

Phyllis - the Japanese number their years with a name for the era corresponding to an Emperor's reign. The era during World War II was something to do with peace. There's irony for you.

Alan - 42 is right! I know where you got that from! Your comment was fabulous, darling.

Who deleted a comment???

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