March 25, Traditional Christian New Years
The early Christian church bucked Roman New Years of January 1 and instead chose March 25. This messed up date calculations yet made a statement about the central event in Christianity.
Of the many traditions handed down through the ages regarding the times of Jesus public ministry one hits squarely on the date that is in the center of the date story, and the center of the entire story of Jesus’ work on earth.
The early Christian Church adopted March 25 as first day on the Christian annual calendar. The tradition does not say why this was important and it was not universally the date chosen for new years celebrations in the Christian world but it was an early and strong tradition for the start of the Christian year.
Consider that the pagan Roman world was using January 1 as New Years day at the time of Jesus. Consider also what it meant to put new years day in the middle of a month. On a calendar where March is split into two different years it is not possible to say things like "March in the year 1500" since 1500 has part of a March that started in 1499 and 1500 begins a March that ends in 1501. March 25 as a New Years day is confusing and not worth the trouble unless it is pointing at something important. But what?
What would the early Christian Church have considered important enough to start a whole new year?
The answer to this question has to do with Resurrection Sunday. Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday morning. This date was so important that it became the day of worship in the Christian world. It was also so important that the new year for the Christian world was also set to this date.
How do we know? We don’t, exactly, know this to be the case. It turns out, though, that nothing else was considered as important as Resurrection Sunday, and this date lands on a date that matters to the other stories in this section.
The Year 31 AD
The simple tradition of putting New Years day on March 25 does something profound when it comes to finding the year of Jesus’ resurrection. It also reveals the exact year.
If resurrection Sunday fixed the first day of the week and it also fixed the first day of the Year, then the year in which this Sunday fell had to have had March 25 on a Sunday.
To find the right year all we need do is look up each March 25 in the range of possible years and when we find March 25 landing on Sunday, we will have the year, or a candidate year. Only those years where March 25 is a Sunday are possible resurrection years given this tradition.
The following date report shows the period in question listing off each March 25 on the then current Roman calendar for the years 25 through 36 AD. The very left hand column indicates the day of the week for the indicated date. By inspection only the years 25, 31 and 36 AD could have been the years that contained the Passover when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, since only these years land March 25 on a Sunday.
|March 25 for each year between 25 and 36|
|⇉Sun||11013-10-10 AA||23 Mar 25 NS||25 Mar 778 AUC||4017430 AAN|
|1513-10-10 FE||25 Mar 25 OS||25 Mar 25 AD||1730273 JDN|
|Mon||11014-10-15 AA||23 Mar 26 NS||25 Mar 779 AUC||4017795 AAN|
|1514-10-15 FE||25 Mar 26 OS||25 Mar 26 AD||1730638 JDN|
|Tue||11015-09-20 AA||23 Mar 27 NS||25 Mar 780 AUC||4018160 AAN|
|1515-09-20 FE||25 Mar 27 OS||25 Mar 27 AD||1731003 JDN|
|Thu||11016-09-26 AA||23 Mar 28 NS||25 Mar 781 AUC||4018526 AAN|
|1516-09-26 FE||25 Mar 28 OS||25 Mar 28 AD||1731369 JDN|
|Fri||11017-10-01 AA||23 Mar 29 NS||25 Mar 782 AUC||4018891 AAN|
|1517-10-01 FE||25 Mar 29 OS||25 Mar 29 AD||1731734 JDN|
|Sat||11018-10-06 AA||23 Mar 30 NS||25 Mar 783 AUC||4019256 AAN|
|1518-10-06 FE||25 Mar 30 OS||25 Mar 30 AD||1732099 JDN|
|⇉Sun||11019-10-11 AA||23 Mar 31 NS||25 Mar 784 AUC||4019621 AAN|
|1519-10-11 FE||25 Mar 31 OS||25 Mar 31 AD||1732464 JDN|
|Tue||11020-10-17 AA||23 Mar 32 NS||25 Mar 785 AUC||4019987 AAN|
|1520-10-17 FE||25 Mar 32 OS||25 Mar 32 AD||1732830 JDN|
|Wed||11021-10-22 AA||23 Mar 33 NS||25 Mar 786 AUC||4020352 AAN|
|1521-10-22 FE||25 Mar 33 OS||25 Mar 33 AD||1733195 JDN|
|Thu||11022-09-27 AA||23 Mar 34 NS||25 Mar 787 AUC||4020717 AAN|
|1522-09-27 FE||25 Mar 34 OS||25 Mar 34 AD||1733560 JDN|
|Fri||11023-10-02 AA||23 Mar 35 NS||25 Mar 788 AUC||4021082 AAN|
|1523-10-02 FE||25 Mar 35 OS||25 Mar 35 AD||1733925 JDN|
|⇉Sun||11024-10-08 AA||23 Mar 36 NS||25 Mar 789 AUC||4021448 AAN|
|1524-10-08 FE||25 Mar 36 OS||25 Mar 36 AD||1734291 JDN|
Only 25, 31, and 36 AD, known as 778, 784 and 789 AUC as lived in the first century, are candidates for the year of the Resurrection.
Modern scholarly opinion is severely divided over which year in this period was the year of the Resurrection. Most believe it was between the year 27 and the year 35. The only year when March 25 falls on a Sunday within this window is the year 31 AD.
Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, March 25, 31 AD.
Of course this is not the only support for this date. It is the simpliest way to derive the date of the Resurrection, requiring only an almanac for its derivation. Many other Bible stories point directly at this date as the correct date for the Resurrection of Jesus. Most involve the overall length of Jesus’ life.
This table also shows us the Bible Calendar date for this same event. Sunday, 1519/10/11 FE. This date is curious in that it has one other reference in scripture. The date? 10409-10-10Jeremiah 39:1 Jeremiah 52:4 is the day that the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army began. The day and month are the same as the full day that Jesus spent in the tomb, 1519-10-10 FE. The siege of God against those in opposition to himself had begun.
Phil Stone, 2016-11-06