The Everyday Lore Project

6 April 2020 – Old Style Lady Day

6 April 2020 – Old Style Lady Day

Today I’ve had my fingers in quite a few folklore pies (and eaten quite a lot of leftover fig pudding), so with apologies in advance, today’s post is even scattier than usual. 

Firstly, Happy New Year! Again. Yes, it’s New Year’s Day. Again. Today is Old Style Lady Day, the last, I think, of the New Year’s Days. Lady Day was on 25 March, but because of Julian/Gregorian calendar shenanigans, it’s another one of those twice celebrated moments, several days apart. And for those who have ever wondered why the new financial year starts on 6 April, this is why, because until 1752, today was the start of a fresh New Year.

So today is traditionally the day that I, along with many other freelance self-employed people, bundle up the previous year’s receipts in order to make way for the next. When I remember, that is. Sometimes I forget for several months and then have to spend a tedious amount of time separating the old from the new. But today, I replaced the plastic bags that hang in various locations to capture said receipts, and stashed my 19-20 tax return out of cat-puke range. One year I was so super organised, I posted everything to my accountant on 6 April, a feat I’ve never managed to repeat.

But it’s not just financially motivated customs happening today, there’s also a convergence of luck. You see, it’s said that the first Monday in April is unlucky, and it’s also said that doing the cleaning on New Year’s Day is unlucky as you sweep, or wash the luck away. So in order not to exacerbate the bad luck, I took this as a sign not to hoover.

And then it is also Tartan Day. Tartan Day is celebrated in Scotland to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, making today the 700th anniversary. Now as I’m mainly of Eastern European descent, I’m unable to claim any Scottishness, except my paternal grandfather wore a very natty kilt and sporran in the army (although sadly none of us remember the regiment). Had Other Life not intercepted, I would have happily spent the day kitted out as a Bay City Roller tribute act but as it stands, I’ve had to rely on others to show me the correct way to wear tartan. Meet Allen Henderson, a brilliant sport, who sent me this pic of him wearing the Henderson Tartan (he’s also growing some veg, and sowed his onions on Gregory-Gret-Onion Day too):

Right, I’m off to recreate the opening sequence of The High Life. Oh deary me!


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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