ANNUNCIATION, FEAST OF THE: A festival celebrated in the Greek, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches on Mar. 25, in commemoration of the beginning of the incarnation (Luke i. 26-38). Though Augustine mentions the date of the event as nine months before Christmas, the earliest indisputable evidence for the celebration of the feast is furnished by Proclus, patriarch of Constantinople, who died before the middle of the fifth century. The probable date of its origin is about the end of the fourth century. The Council of Toledo (656) ordered its observance on Dec. 18, objecting to its celebration in the mournful season of Lent; and the church of Milan kept it on the fourth Sunday in Advent; but the Roman date finally prevailed throughout the West. The ancient Roman year having commenced with March, on the twenty-fifth of which month the vernal equinox fell in the Julian calendar, it was natural for Christian countries to date their years from the feast which commemorated the initial step in the work of redemption; in some parts of England and the United States this date is still the legal term from which leases, etc. are reckoned.