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
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
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