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January was not always thought of as New Year

Published 30/12/2009

Colin Nevin (Write Back, December 26) says that "even our New Year on January 1 is from a man-made calendar - not the one instituted by God currently in the month of Tevet".

As it happens, considering January 1 as the New Year was very recent and dates to the adoption in this country of the Gregorian calendar in the 18th century.

Previously the year began in March, which explains why the month September literally means the seventh month (and similarly for the next three months).

As most readers are probably unaware of the "month of Tevet", he should have explained that it is the current lunar month in the Jewish solar-lunar calendar which counts the months from Nisan, which also falls in the spring, though its New Year is the first day of the seventh month that falls in the Autumn.

A paper that I had written previously on the subject which is in my book A Time to Speak is scheduled to be published in January by Devora Publishing.

MARTIN D STERN

Salford, Lancashire

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