NUMBERS Today is the 24th of March.
Friday 24 March 1995
From the 7th until around the 13th century, the year was reckoned as beginning at Christmas. In the 12th century, however, the Anglican church took a more seminal approach, worked back one human gestation period from 25 December, and arrived at 25 March as the Feast of the Annunciation, or Lady Day, as the true beginning of the year.
By the 14th century, 25 March had been generally adopted as the first day of the civil or legal year. Until 1752, this coexisted with the concept of the historical year, which began on 1 January, so dates in the early months were frequently given in the form 24 March 1694/5, with the final fraction digit showing both legal and historical year.
The January/March problem dated back to Roman days, where the original calendar, supposedly drawn up by Romulus, ran from March to December with January and February ignored. From 222BC, the year ran from March, when the new consul took office, but in 153BC New Year's Day was changed to 1 January.
Other calendars, notably the Kurdish and Zoroastrian, begin the year at the Vernal Equinox on 21 or 22 March, while the Muslim year runs from 16 July (when Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina in 622), and the Portuguese, until around 1430 at any rate, began their year on the anniversary of the battle of Actium.
Anyway, if you've got this far, happy new year!
A topical numerical teaser.
If BONKER plus BANKER equals RESIGN and each separate letter represents a different digit from 0 to 9, what is the value of RESIGN?
We have three copies of the Chambers Encyclopedic Dictionary for correct answers opened on 5 April. Entries to: Pastimes, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.
Competition report: 10 March
The anagrams were as follows:
Gone brainless - Leeson, Barings
La! Rash Manager - Graham, Arsenal!
Love-bird wrecks opera - Parker-Bowles, Divorce.
Labour cure fails - Blair, Clause Four
Anti-EC so cruel to PM - Lamont, Euro-sceptic. Prizes to: Kate Young (Chiswick), Richard Rowntree (Frodsham), Judy Weyman (York).
Life & Style blogs
GTA 5 Online DLC: San Andreas Flight School update brings 16-seater jet plane and more
What is ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge?
David Beckham fronts the campaign for his underwear autumn/winter collection, which hit stores today
London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
NHS patients to be seen by 'doctors on the cheap'
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 3 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
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