The Vincent's birth date puzzle

An epic battle among heart, maths and canon

heart smoke candle

V incent is a beautiful mystery. We don't know how he came to be. "I have ideas… I was born, and I survived". The rest is left to our imagination. I like to see all kind of symbolism in B&B, it's my way of enjoying it.  One little fact, meaningful and symbolic, is that even the exact date of Vincent's birth is a mystery, and to know "when" he came to be, we also need to choose what we want to believe.

We know from the episode God Bless the Child that Vincent was found and brought to the Tunnels on a very cold January 12th. That's it. The circumstances are blurred enough, since in later episodes dark elements have been slowly added, involving first "the evil one", Paracelsus, then his wife Anna, and surrounding the beautiful "present" that was the newborn Vincent of a dark aura and lots of unanswered questions. The exact year was never mentioned.

Of course the calculations about what year it was have been bouncing in the fandom since day one. Some start from the novelizations by Nan Dibble, approved by the production, others try to draw the elements to state that elusive year from the episodes -- which is just impossible, if you stick to "canon" (what you actually see in the episodes), because the episodes have lots of contradictory details.

The first of such contradictory details is at the very beginning of the tale: when did Vincent and Catherine meet? While the day, April 12, is mentioned without uncertainty in the episodes, Edie's screen in the Pilot (canon!) says that Catherine is attacked BOTH in 1986 and in 1987 -- a wonderful blunder of the post production -- as the screen shows 1986 in the single files of Catherine and the other two women attacked that night, but 1987 in the list of assaults.

Also, according to canon (Pilot), Vincent goes to Catherine's balcony "eight months later", which means about December 22, around Christmas: April 12 + eight months + ten days she stayed Below (said in Pilot and in A Happy Life). Now, that silk robe she's wearing is not exactly fitting a December night in New York, but apart from this, like many fans have wondered along the years, if he goes to her at Christmas, when does Masques, the Halloween episode, take place?

All this is canon. Well, precisely considering all this, I think that it's "canon" itself that induces us to pick what we prefer. If you want to "decide" where exactly our beautiful story is placed in the calendar, you have to make a choice yourself among multiple possibilities, adjust, fix, and use some suspension of disbelief anyway… and it's good, in my opinion, because it fits so beautifully with the overall "blurred" and magical setting of the series, which appeals to the heart before appealing to the maths. You must follow your heart. And this involvement of the heart to understand what "really" happened, to decide what "you" prefer -- or "when", in this case -- prepares and justifies the choice that many have made, listening to their hearts, to disregard, reject, even despise the canon, and happily ignore the Third Season, (or even anything that comes after A Kingdom by the Sea, like I do, because I consider The Trilogy, and its prelude The Hollow Men, an inconsistent twist that my heart does not accept).

But as I said, many have tried to place that special Jan 12th in the calendar. Anybody is entitled to make his or her own attempt, and it is "right" as long as you are happy with it, because there is no final evidence in the episodes, or better, there is a lot of different, contradictory evidences you can pick and merge as you prefer. Here is one of such attempts, based on the calculations of Sandra Hensen, a Belgium fan, the most convincing I have found so far, and on major canon twisting and personal preferences. "On Tuesday, anyway"... they may change and with different choices the date can be pushed back or forward considerably. Here it goes.

Catherine attends her first Winterfest (Dead of Winter) after their first anniversary (Temptation) and before their second (The Watcher), and there is no controversy about this. That is, during the second winter following her attack.

Father, speaking of such Winterfest, says in Dead of Winter: "A third of a century…. It’s hard for me to believe it, Vincent. You were only a babe in arms that first year…".

Now, you just have to decide if Catherine's attack was 1986 or 1987; how long is a third of a century (33+33+33=99, oops, we miss one year... what did Father mean?); if a babe in arms is a newborn ("that first year" being the same year they found Vincent) or a one year old (the year after), put all this together and find the "real" date of Vincent's birth. Easy, isn't it?  

1986 or 1987? Both are canon, evidently a mistake, as well al that "eight months later". So, personally, I choose to read that "eight months later" as "FIVE months later", which - surprise! - would make Vincent's visit take place around September 25: now, Sep 25 1987 happens to be the date when the first episode was aired in the USA. Nice! Fits with the night robe, with Halloween, with my logic, places it in sync with the fandom… So, okay, 1987. (But, for instance, a fandom treasure as reputed as the Beauty And The Beast Companion chooses 1986 instead. And that's okay. Another time maybe we will try the 1986 route, and with the proper choices, we'll "decide" that Vincent was born the same Winter when his beloved Dylan Thomas died... in the St Vincent's hospital. My heart skipped a beat when I discovered it: I adore symbolism!)

If I choose to have Vincent's visit to Catherine's balcony on September 25, 1987, her first Winterfest would take place in Winter 1988/89 (the exact day of Winterfest is also a mystery…).

Now, if we take "one third of century" as 33 (but that's not set in stone as well, it can be 34, it can be approximate, it can be a way of saying, it can be… you got it), it means that in Winter 1988/89 they celebrated their 33rd Winterfest, the one we see in Dead of Winter, and 33 years before, in Winter 1955/1956, they celebrated their first Winterfest. Now, how old was Vincent during that first Winterfest?

He was a "babe in arms", according the words of Father in Dead of Winter. This means either a newborn, or one year old, if we consider the word "babe" (but if we consider that he was in arms, it can be stretched to a two years old toddler, thinking of those windy staircases and high steps to go down to the Great Hall).

Here there are two possibilities.

If Vincent was a newborn, his birth date would be January 12th, 1956. In this case, consequently, the first Winterfest celebration would be that same January, several days after the 12th, or even in February… except that the Christmas trees in NYC are shown in the opening sequence of the episode Dead of Winter, and when Vincent brings the Winterfest candle to Catherine, she still has the Christmas lights on her balcony... not good. Unless it means that Winterfest does not have a fixed date, and it can be held at different times of the year… mmm… Besides, there is all the Paracelsus-killing-Anna nonsense, which needs time to happen after Vincent was found. As I said, personally I reject anything that comes after AKBTS, but that's me. The balcony lights and NYC Christmas trees are more important to me, because I like it better to have Winterfest at the same date every year.

If he's one year old, and they started to celebrate Winterfest one year after they found him, the date of his birth would be January 12th, 1955, (one third of century 33 + 1 = 34 years before the Winter 1988/1989) and the first Winterfest was held one day -- probably impossible to establish if we want evidences in "canon" -- during the Winter 1955/1956, in December or in January, fitting with the Christmas decorations in NYC and on Catherine's balcony (and also fitting with the timing of The Trilogy).

Bingo! Vincent was found on January 12, 1955.

And my heart likes the idea that the annual Winterfest date is January 12 as well, celebrating something special that happened in the tunnels one year before: the unusual child found, "wrapped in rags, like a present", during a very dark time for the community Below: even ignoring the Paracelsus nonsense, they do mention fear and knives in the Winterfest speech, and I like to think that finding Vincent helped this frightened group of people who found shelter Below, among the other menacing dwellers of the tunnels, to gather courage and become a community, also in order to shelter and protect him. It fits with the symbolism of the newborn child bringing light and hope that runs throughout the whole episode God Bless the Child, the one where it is said that Vincent was found on January 12.

Nice, eh?

Sigh. Not exactly. If your head is not yet furiously spinning, it will now. You continue to read at your own risk. I warned you, okay?

In Song of Orpheus (before Temptation, that is, before the first anniversary=early 1988), it's said that Father denounced the Chittenden Research Institute in November 1951, had two tickets for a baseball game dated 1952 in his pocket, and that "he dropped off the face of the earth 35 years ago". So… when did he disappear underground? In Promises of Someday he said "the year after I lost everything", and that it was Winter. Winter 1952/53? It might fit, but… when was Devin conceived? And how younger is Vincent than Devin, the "big brother" of the Tale of Two Cities dedication? (Brothers)

Let's see… He was 14 when he fled, 20 years before Promises of Someday, which comes after Temptation, the first anniversary episode, that is April 12 1988 (if we pick 1987 in Edie's computer). If he was 14 in 1968, he was born in 1954, and that's okay, conceived in 1953… but if Vincent was born in January 1955… hardly one year younger? Rats!

Maybe 1956 would fit better after all, despite Paracelsus crap and Catherine's balcony lights? Or perhaps "one third of century" was just a way of saying, or approximate, or Father's memory was faltering, and it was less than 33 years, so that Vincent was born in 1957 or 1958? Do I like it better Devin to be practically same age of Vincent, or to be the "big brother" protecting and teaching him? Wait, and how old is Catherine? Maybe this can help. What says "canon"? A certain tombstone says 1956-1989. Naaah! Heart and maths agree: can't be. She was mourning the twentieth anniversary of her mother's death in A Happy Life (1988), who died when she was 10, so she was born in 1958. Even if we pick 1986 in Edie's computer, it would make 1957, never 1956. So, apart from the confirmation that that tombstone just can't exist, how do I like her - three years younger than Vincent, two, or less, which would make Devin... how old? Oh my, I'm lost.

Scratching head… like lots of fans did along the years, by the way...

Oooookay - throwing sheets covered with calculations away and slamming scripts closed…

As Vincent said… "I was born, I survived". That's the important thing.

Happy birthday, Vincent!



Blue Eyes, winking Vincent by Lynn Wright

Blue Eyes, by Lynn Wright





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