A couple of replies to yesterday’s post asked for more details about the significance of April 6 to LDS members plus whether there is any connection to Lady Day or the quirky decision by Britain to make this day the start of our tax year.
On April 6, 1830 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organised. Today the April General Conference is always scheduled on the weekend nearest to that anniversary.
This could also be the date Jesus was born. The Doctrine and Covenants tells us:
“The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organised and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April—“ Doctrine and Covenants 20:1
Whether this scripture is referring to the year, the month or the precise date of April 6 remains unclear. The apostle Bruce R. McConkie declared,
“We do not believe it is possible with the present state of our knowledge-including that which is known both in and out of the Church-to state with finality when the natal day of the Lord Jesus actually occurred” McConkie, Bruce R. Mortal Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 349, n. 2. Salt Lake City, 1979.
Even so the April 6 date now represents an important anniversary of Church organisation and the Saviour’s birth and death.
In 1833 Joseph Smith wrote in his journal,
“The day (April 6, 1833) was spent in a very agreeable manner, in giving and receiving knowledge which appertained to this last kingdom – it being just 1800 years since the Saviour laid down His life that men might have everlasting life…”
At General Conference President Harold B Lee said…
“April 6, 1973 is a particularly significant date because it commemorates not only the anniversary of the organisation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this dispensation, but also the anniversary of the birth of the Saviour, our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.” General Conference, Friday morning, April 6, 1973. (Note that General Conference ran for seven sessions over Friday , Saturday and Sunday)
President Kimball concurred that
“..today we not only celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the organisation of the Church, but also the greatest event in human history since the birth of Christ on this day 1,980 years ago.” General Conference, Sunday Morning Session, April 6, 1980
What about Christmas?
This new April birth date could help reconcile the date of December 25 which was selected by third century Christians who either converted a pagan celebration of the Feast of Saturn into a Christ centred festival or made some logical calendar assumptions. Likewise it explains how shepherds would be “abiding in the field” tending their flocks as March to April is the lambing season and in December the sheep would more likely be stabled.
If April 6 is His precise birth date LDS members are still…
“encouraged…to join with other Christians in observing Christmas as a special day for remembering Jesus’ birth and teachings.” Encyclopaedia of Mormonism
Those are the facts as far as I know them. This, I think, is one of those areas not worth losing sleep about. We get to celebrate the Saviour’s birth twice a year – in December with all the tinsel and trappings, and in April with General Conference and Easter. After all, what He did is of far more lasting value than when He did it. Personally I love the symmetry of having the Saviour’s birth, His Resurrection and the Restoration of His Church all around the same time.
The British Twist
The question remains is there any connection with Lady Day and our British Tax year?
The answer: Yes.
What is Lady Day? Lady Day is celebrated annually by most Christians on the 25 March. This day, the start of spring, was a one time contender for Christmas Day but the December date won over. The Lady Day feast was then chosen to celebrate Gabriel’s visit to Mary and is more formally known as The Feast of the Annunciation. The Saviour’s Conception on March 25th means 9 months of pregnancy brings us neatly to December 25th.
This March date, it was proposed, was when Jesus was conceived and when he died – hence the celebration time of Easter. That date – 25 March – was believed to be when the earth was created, and as the start of spring it represents new life – all providing great symbolism to wrap around the Resurrection.
The final question: how does March 25th have anything to do with April 6th and tax?
In steps British politics.
Henry Pelham (1694-1754) was educated at Hertford College in Oxford University and went on to become the Whig Prime Minister (1743-1754). The College still has a club named in his honour – the Sir Henry Pelham Gentlemen’s Sporting Society. It sounds very grand, but it is actually just a drinking club.
During Pelham’s administration Britain, and hence the rest of the British Empire, adopted the Gregorian Calendar to allow us to communicate and trade effectively with other countries. Many Europeans – France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Holland – had been using this calendar since 1582. To bring us in to synch Britain had to jump eleven days ahead. Brits went to bed on 2 September 1752 and woke up the very next day on the 14th September. Under the old Julian calendar rents and annuities were due on Lady Day which was March 25th. With the adoption of the new calendar those payments became due on April 6 – which to this day is the beginning of the tax year.
Personally I prefer the religious connections than the ominous tax reminder.