Lady Day 25th March
Lady Day 25th March
Not many special days have female associations, Lady is special because in the Christian religion, it was the day when Jesus was conceived. The Christmas nativity will be 9 months later.
To continue this theme, Lady day is also the feast of the Annunciation. In this context, the word annunciation means announce. When the angel Gabriel pronounced the conception, or incarnation, of Jesus in the Virgin Mary.
In England, Lady Day was New Year's Day up to 1752. Indeed it is in England that Lady Day still has the greatest significance. Until 1971, Quarter Sessions or Quarter Assizes had a connotation with Quarter days. Nowadays Quarter Sessions have been replaced with Crown Courts. Quarter days were also the traditional day when tenants paid their quarterly rent. Indeed standard leases still have the clause: 'Rent on a lease is payable on the 'usual quarter days' unless the lease states to the contrary.
Once cannot help noticing the proximity of these quarter days to significant solar events. The winter solstice, the spring equinox (Lady Day), the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. However, the relationship is not precise because the quarter days are on fixed date 4 or 5 days after the more precise solar event. It's as though our ancient ancestors waited a few days to be sure, and then celebrated the solstice or equinox with a quarter day.
Lady Day is another example of the church appending a religious celebration to a pagan festival, the relationship between Halloween and All Saints would be another case in point.
In myths described in the Mabinogion Welsh folk tales, Lady Day celebrates the union between the spring Virgin Goddess and the young solar God. In another Mabinogion tale, the spring equinox (Lady Day) is when Llew takes revenge on the evil Goronwy. According to the allegory, Llew lances his bitter enemy with a shaft of sunlight.
To return to the Holy Bible, and the Gospel according to St Luke:
The original Julian calendar, which dated from Roman times, did not take into account the fact that there are 365.24 days in a year. By the 16th century this discrepancy resulted in the seasons, solstice and other events being out by approximately 11 days.
Pope Gregory XIII introduced a more accurate calendar by introducing leap years. For hundreds of years the tax year in England and Wales started on Lady Day 25th March, when the Gregorian calendar was finally adopted 11 days were added to the calendar. To ease the outcry of these 'lost days', the exchequer delayed the start of the tax year in 1753 to 6th April.
From that time until this, the term 'Lady Day' is occasionally applied to the 6th of April rather than the Annunciation Day - 25th March.
The other connotation, or corruption of Lady Day is Ladies Day. This seems to be a feature of every major horse race meeting from Ascot to York. Lady day bears as much resemblance to these ladies days as lady does to 'ladette' - nuff said.
Summary of Lady Day
In view of all that it has going for it, Will and Guy are surprised that Lady Day is so little known, and hardly ever celebrated. To recap, Lady Day is one of only 4 quarter days during the year, it falls near to the vernal equinox, and crucially, it commemorates Christ's conception.
Other 'Lady' Days
This is a day with several meanings: arrival of winter in Estonia, the martyrdom of St Catherine by the Romans and Catherinettes Day in France.
International Women's Day 8th March
The very first International Women's Day was launched in Germany, by Clara Zetkin, on 19th March 1911 [not 8th March]. The date was chosen because on 19th March in the 1848 revolution, the Prussian king recognized, the strength of the armed people and gave way before the threat of a proletarian uprising. Among the many promises he made, which he later failed to keep, was the introduction of votes for women.
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See more Saints Days and other special days in spring :