Welcome to your usual quarters
In England and Wales, commercial leases often specify that the rent and service charges are payable in advance on “the usual quarter days”.
No doubt, you’ve often wondered…
- What are “the usual quarter days”;
- Why were these particular days chosen; and
- How can I remember them easily?
Well, wonder no more, because the answers to all of these questions are below and once known, never forgotten.
The English quarter days (also observed in Wales and the Channel Islands) are:
- 25 March
- 24 June
- 29 September
- 25 December
They are approximately three months apart, to split the year into quarters hence the name “Quarter Days”. These quarter days have been observed for centuries.
The explanation for these days being chosen lies in the Middle Ages when most people could not read or write and needed a simple system that everybody understood for when accounts were settled and rent was due.
The Church was an important part of most peoples’ lives and, so that these could be remembered easily, four important fixed religious feast days were chosen throughout the year being:
- Lady Day – The Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March – this marks the day when the archangel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she was expecting.
And, after a pregnant pause that lasted exactly nine months, the Baby Jesus was born on 25 December.
- Midsummer Day – The Feast of St. John the Baptist, 24 June – this celebrates the birth of John the Baptist.
Not to be confused with his second feast on August 29 that celebrates the day he quite literally lost his head – on a platter to Salome.
- Michaelmas – The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, 29 September – the St Michael in question being the archangel Michael, the most powerful angel in Heaven.
Not to be confused with St Michael, the former brand name for goods sold by Marks and Spencer and which had a devoted following of customers, the modern day St Michael’s disciples.
- Christmas Day – The Feast of the Nativity, 25 December – the birthday of the Baby Jesus.
And, far nicer to receive gold, frankincense and even myrrh (a resin used as a fragrance in incense and perfumes) on Christmas Day than a demand for a quarter’s rent.
Well, there’s an easy way to remember the English quarter days.
Every quarter day is twenty-something and, with the exception of Christmas Day, the second digit of the day of the month is the number of letters in the month’s name as illustrated below.
- 25 March – 5 letters in ‘March’
- 24 June – 4 letters in ‘June’
- 29 September – 9 letters in ‘September’
- 25 December – Who can ever forget Christmas Day!
And, don’t worry! If you are a tenant, and you do forget a quarter day, then your landlord is sure to remind you.
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