Happy New Year….In March?

For all the inhabitants of what we now call New England, the winter of 1675 was a hard, cold season punctuated by skirmishes, all out battles, and the constant threat of attack and starvation.  The Puritan colonists did not celebrate Christmas, and the governor of Massachusetts Bay colony even went so far as to make celebrations on December 25th against the law.  The colonists, and their countrymen back in England, didn’t even celebrate the new year until March 25. 

Happy New Year….in March? Well, here in New England, we’re pretty notorious for refusing to do something just because everyone else is doing it. If we don’t like your tax, we dump your tea in the harbor; if you steal our favorite baseball player, we hold a grudge for a century; and if we don’t want to pronounce the letter R, then good luck trying to make us. 

Sometime in the 16th century, the Pope decided to abandon the old Julian calendar for the more accurate Gregorian one. Days were dropped, leap years were calculated, and the official start of the new year was moved from March 25th to January 1st. At the time, England was ruled by the very Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, and she wasn’t about to change the whole English calendar just because the Pope did. In fact, England and her colonies didn’t adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. So between 1582 and 1752,  England and the colonies were out of sync with the rest of Europe, leading to some confusion for historians (and poor historical novelists like me). 

Happy New Year ~ I’m looking forward to bidding farewell to 2021. My wish for 2022 is that it brings us all health, happiness, and safety, and I hope we don’t have to wait until March for that to come true!

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