“Give us back our eleven days!”

It’s may!

Yes, you say, soothingly.  It’s been May for a bit, now.

But it’s May may!

It’s mayblossom time, and the hawthorn blossom is out.  Just in the nick of time.

Apparently, back in the mists of history, mayblossom got its name because it was reliably out on 1st May.  Not anymore, of course, because of Change.  Not climate change, in this case, but Calendar Change.

For centuries, Europe got along on the Julian calendar, named for Julius Caesar who proposed the idea in 46 BC.  But the Julian calendar and the actual length of the year weren’t quite in synch, and so the seasons started to drift.

In 1582, when the gap was 10 days, Pope Gregory X111 proposed a new calendar, the Gregorian calendar, to get things back in line.  On this side of the channel, the proposal was viewed with dark suspicion, as a Papist plot, although what the endgame of any plotters might be, I’ve failed to understand.

It wasn’t until 1752 that we decided to adopt this new-fangled idea, by which time the difference was 11 days.  There were riots (possibly), and peasants with pitchforks chanting ‘Give us back our eleven days’ (possibly), but as inevitably as, well, time itself, Wednesday 2 September was followed by Thursday 14th September.

And mayblossom now (fairly) reliably is in bloom 11 days later than before, on 11th May.  Today.  And it is.

Incidentally, so that no tax revenue would be lost, the date of the tax year was changed.  Under the Julian calendar, the year began on Lady Day, 25th March.  This was changed to what might otherwise be thought of as an entirely arbitrary date of 6th April.

Who would have thought that taxes and mayblossom could be so intertwined?

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