The answer: January 1st, 1753. If you live in America or in any other country then part of the British Empire, 1753 was the first year where January 1st was celebrated as the first day of a new calendar year. The Calendar Act of 1751 was the British law which set 1752 as the year of transition from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar for England and its colonies. By that time, the rest of the Western world had already made the transition (although the French would have another go at a different calendar after the French revolution of 1789). Japan’s transition to the Gregorian calendar came much later in 1873, and China made the switch relatively recently in 1929.
Happy Lady Day! March 25th was until 1753 the first day of the new calendar year, and it was then referred to as “Lady Day”, not New Year’s Day. For instance, the day after March 24, 1751 was March 25, 1752. The day after December 31, 1751 was January 1, 1751! So everyone, from the Pilgrims to the early colonists to a young George Washington, were celebrating New Year’s Day as “Lady Day” on March 25th of every year.
Eleven days when absolutely nothing happened in America. What happened on say September 4th 1752? Absolutely nothing. The reason is that, in order to make the transition to the Gregorian calendar at that time, the day after September 2nd 1752 became September 14th 1752. All the eleven days in between, from September 3rd to September 13th, never existed. The next time you are asked to come up with a question at a trivia game, just ask “What day of the week was September 7th 1752?”
On New Year’s Day, raise your champagne glass to Alysius Lilius! Aloysius Lilius, also known as Guido Lilio, is the man who came up with the calendar that we all use today around the world. Alysius Lilius was an Italian astronomer and philosopher from Ciro, in Calabria. The calendar he invented was proposed to and accepted by Pope Gregory XIII (hence the name Gregorian calendar), who first implemented the new calendar within the Catholic universe in 1582.
March 24th 1751 or April 5th 1752? Do you realize that people in England and its colonies were living on a different day, and for almost three months every year, a different year than people in say France or Spain? When the newspaper in England read March 24, 1751, for example, the Paris newspaper was dated April 5, 1752! No wonder the French and the English were regularly at war with each other — they could not even agree on what day it was!
Stay tuned to BonVoyageurs.com for more Countries of the World as we share our joie de vivre from around the world. Luxury escapes and city breaks to Quebec City, New York, Washington, Buenos Aires. In Europe, places like Paris France, Nice France, Provence and the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera), Tuscany and Florence in Italy, Rome, Napoli and the Amalfi Coast. In Asia, countries like China, India, Nepal and so much more!