By Father John Fields
Happy New Year Friday, March 25.
For many centuries because of Christian influence, March 25 was celebrated as New Year’s Day.
Since March 25 was calculated as the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, there was a belief that one died on the same day that one was conceived. If Jesus died on March 25 — the 14th of the Jewish month of Nissan, then he was also conceived on the 14th of Nissan — March 25. Therefore, March 25 was not only the date of his crucifixion, but also became the date of his Incarnation, hence the feast of the Annunciation March 25. And since in God there is perfection, a full nine months after March 25 would be December 25, which became the date of the nativity of Christ.
But March 25 also had other significance. Many believed it was also the date of Adam’s creation and fall; some traditions maintain it was also the fall of Lucifer; the fleeing of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt through the Red Sea; and the immolation of Isaac. These beliefs are found in the early martyrologies and writings of the early fathers of the church.
March 25 was also celebrated for centuries as New Year’s Day on the civil calendar because of Christian influence in society. In England, the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 continued to be New Year’s Day until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Until 1751, March 25 was also celebrated as New Year’s Day in the American colonies, since they were under British rule. Even the town of Pisa, in Tuscany, Italy, continues to hold a New Year’s celebration on March 25 every year, including this year, a custom dating back to 1749.
So have a Happy New Year March 25!
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Father Fields is director of communications for the Ukrainian Archdiocese of Philadelphia.