A Quarter Day is one of the 4 days of the English year when rents are (or were traditionally) due, particularly in agriculture. Here is a mnemonic illustration of their exact dates:

25th March
24th June
29th September
25th December
5 letters in 'march'
4 letters in 'june'
9 letters in 'september'
and if you can't recall the exact date of Christmas Day, you really shouldn't be in business at all!

The Quarter Days are more often called by their descriptive names: Lady Day (in March, named after the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary), Midsummer Day (June), Michaelmas Day (Sept) and Christmas Day (Dec).

Under the Julian (or Old Style) calendar each new year started on Lady Day (March 25th), until the modified Gregorian (or New Style) calendar was adopted by Britain in 1752 to match up with the system already used since 1588 in the rest of Europe.

Britain's delay in adopting the Gregorian calendar meant that by 1752 its dates differed from the rest of Europe by 12 days, which had to be "skipped" after March 25th in that year to adjust the seasons to the sun's true movements. However the Treasury refused to have any shortened taxation periods, and so they counted the "missing" days back in, resulting in the 6th of April being now the start date of each British taxation year.

In Scotland the quarter days are slightly different. They are:

  • Candlemas Day (Feb. 2nd) - the feast of the Purification of St.Mary.
  • Whit Sunday (May 15th) - traditionally the seventh Sunday after Easter.
  • Lammas Day (Aug. 1st).
  • Martinmas Day (Nov. 11th) - aka. the feast of St.Martin.

    The traditional Midsummer Day should not be confused with summer solstice (the longest day), which actually occurs a few days earlier.


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