The Twenty-Fifth of March is always a strange day for me. Traditionally in Christian countries it was New Year’s Day (England did not abandon this practice until the 1750s, which is why George Washington, born in February of 1731, was born, by our standards, in February of 1732). Since this is spring, it’s actually a nice time to celebrate New Year’s, rebirth, renewal, etc. The date was supposed to be the vernal equinox, but later calendar-fixers shifted the calendar so it’s four days off what it was meant to be (Christmas was supposed to be on the solstice too). And it’s the Feast of the Annunciation. This used to be a huge feast in the church. It wasn’t mentioned at Sunday mass I attended at the beginning of the week, though, and it has more or less been driven out by the mechanical (Protestant) Sundayism of the modern church. Fixed-day feasts are unpopular because they interfere with the all-important mind-numbing routine of economic life. Unfortunately this year it also falls on a Wednesday. On Wednesdays there are no afternoon/evening masses in New Orleans. So I’ll be doing the readings on my own this year. I know I really should give this one up, as it’s not a battle worth fighting, but it is one of my favorite feasts. And just think of all that lovely artwork, all the Madonnas painted to celebrate this day. (Sigh).
Dante’s Divine Comedy begins on March 25th of the year 1300, one of those unusual years when Good Friday and the Annunciation are on the same day (a “Venerdi Dantesco”).