On Calendars and Calendar Systems of Middle Earth

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Ancient Hobbit Timekeeping

During the Wandering Years, the Hobbits divided the year into months but not into weeks. The months were marked by the phases of the moon. The dating of early events was imprecise and inaccurate. When the Hobbits began to settle in Eriador, they adopted the King's Reckoning of the Dunedain. The King's Reckoning had in turn been adapted from the Elves. The Hobbits made some changes to the King's Reckoning, which became known as the Shire Reckoning. The Shire Reckoning was also kept in Bree with some minor differences.

Elvish Calendar

The Elvish year or y�n lasted for 144 years or 52,596 days. The Elves liked multiples of 6's and 12's. A day lasted from sunset to sunset and was called a r�. They also had a "short" solar year called coranar "sun-round" or loa "growth", ie of vegetation. The Elves had a six day week, called a enqui� for ritual purposes. The Elves of Imladris also broke the year into six seasons, called tuil� (spring), lair� (summer), y�vi� (autumn), quell� (fading), hr�v� (winter), and coir� (stirring). The Sindarin equivalents were ethuil (spring), laer (summer), iavas (autumn), firith (fading), rhiw (winter), and echuir (stirring). Fading was also called lasse-lanta ("leaf-fall"), or in Sindarin narbeleth ('sun-waning'). Their year started with the beginning of spring (tuil�). Lair� or summer and hr�v� (winter) each had 72 days while the remaining seasons had 54. Three enderi or middle days were inserted between y�vi� (autumn) and quell� (fading) to create a year of 365 days. Special days were yestar�, the first day of the year, and mettar�, the last day of the year. These days were not part of any month. Adjustments were made periodically to keep the calendar accurate.

Edain Calendars

The Numenorean calendar system divided the loa or solar year into shorter and more regular periods. There were twelve astar or months. Ten of the months had 30 days and 2 had 31. The two long astar were on either side of the Mid-year (June and July). The first (yestar�), middle (lo�nd�), and last (mettar�) days of the year did not belong to any month. The year began in mid-winter, following the custom of the Edain in the First Age. They later defined their week as lasting seven days and reckoned each day from sunrise to sunrise. As with the Elves, adjustments were made periodically to their calendar. The Numenoreans started their calendar with Second Age 1. The calendar was called the King's Reckoning while there was a king in Arnor and Gondor.

Mardil later introduced a Revised Calendar that was called the Steward's Reckoning. It was followed by most Westron speakers except for the Hobbits. Every month consisted of 30 days. One day was introduced between the third and fourth months (March and April) and between the ninth and tenth months (September and October). The five days outside of months, yestar� (the first day of the year), tuil�r�, lo�nd� (Mid-Year's Day), y�vi�r�, and mettar� (the last day of the year) were holidays.

In Westron, the Quenya names of the months were retained although the Dunedain used the Sindarin equivalents. They were: Narviny� (January - Sindarin Narwain), N�nim� (February - Sindarin N�nui), S�lim� (March - Sindarin Gwaeron), V�ress� (April - Sindarin Gwirith), L�tess� (May - Sindarin Lothron, N�ri� (June - Sindarin N�rui), Cermi� (July - Sindarin Cerveth), Urim� (August - Sindarin Urui), Yavanni� (September - Sindarin Ivanneth), Narqueli� (October - Sindarin Narbeleth), H�sim� (November - Sindarin Hithui), and Ringar� (December - Sindarin Girithron).

Hobbit Calendars

The conservative Hobbits did not adopt the Revised Calendar of the Steward's Reckoning. They continued to follow the King's Reckoning, although with some changes. All of their months had 30 days but they had three mid-year Summerdays, which in the Shire were called the Lithe or Lithedays between June and July. The last day of the year and the first day of the year were together called the Yuledays. The Lithedays and Yuledays did not belong to any month. January 1st was then actually the second day of the year. Every four years there were four Lithedays (except for the last year of the century). This extra day was called Overlithe and was a time of special merriment. The Lithedays and Yuledays were major holidays and times of great feasting. Yuletide was expanded to include the last three days of the old year and the first three days of the new year. Mid-year's day corresponded to the summer solstice so Shire dates were ten days ahead of the modern calendar. Our January 1st was equivalent to the Shire's January 9th.

The Hobbits of the Shire introduced one change, which was eventually adopted in Bree. Special days, such as Mid-year's Day and Overlithe, were not assigned a weekday name. They no longer belonged to any week. Weekday names thus never changed from year to year. The year always began on the first day of the week and ended on the last day of the week. The Shire-folk stopped putting weekday names on the dates in their letters, since they never changed. This worked as long as they never went farther than Bree.

The Shire names of the calendar months were: Afteryule (January), Solmath or Somath (February), Rethe (March), Astron (April), Thrimidge or Thrimich, originally Thrimilch (May), Forelithe (June), (Midyear's Day and sometimes Overlithe), Afterlithe (July), Wedmath (August), Halimath (September, Winterfilth (October), Blotmath, which was pronounced Blodmath or Blomath (November), and Foreyule (December). These names came from their days in the Vales of the Anduin and are similar to those of Rohan and Dale. The Lithe day before Mid-Year was called 1 Lithe and the one after Mid-Year was called 2 Lithe. The Yule at the end of the year was 1 Yule and the Yule day the beginning of the year was 2 Yule.

The Hobbits of Bree used the following names of the month: Frery (January), Solmath (February), Rethe (March), Chithing (April), Thrimidge (May), Lithe (June), The Summerdays, Mede (July), Wedmath (August), Harvestmath (September), Wintring (October), Blooting (November), and Yulemath (December). Frery, Chithing, and Yulemath were also used in the Eastfarthing. The Bree-folk laughed at the Winterfilth of the Shire. The Shire-folk in turn said that the Bree-folk's Wintring was an adaptation of the older name, which referred to the filling or completion of the year before winter. This name came from before the time the Hobbits adopted the King's Reckoning and reflected a time when the year started after the harvest.

The archaic Hobbit names for the days of the week were: Sterrendei (later Sterday), Sunnendei (Sunday), Monendei (Monday), Trewesdei (Trewsday), Hevenesdei (Hevensday or Hensday), Meresdei (Mersday), and Highdei (Highday). Friday was their Highday and the last day of the week. Highday from noon on was a holiday and was often celebrated by an evening feast.

Calendars in the 4th Age

The New Reckoning of the Restored Kingdom started the year on March 25th, in honor of the fall of Sauron and the work of the ringbearers. The first month of the year was thus V�ress� (April). Each month had 30 days. There were three enderi or Middle days between Yavanni� (September) and Narqueli� (October) that corresponded to the old September 23, 24, and 25. The middle day was called lo�nd� (the old name for Mid-Year's Day). In honor of Frodo's birth, Yavanni� 30 (September 22nd) was made a festival. During leap years, the extra day was added to the feast, which was called Cormar� or Ringday.

The Fourth Age began with the September departure of Elrond and the Ringbearer. For ease in record-keeping, Fourth Age 1 was the year that started with March 25, 3021, old style. The Shire-Folk did not celebrate March 25 or September 22. The Hobbits of Westfarthing, especially those around Hobbiton, celebrated April 6 with a holiday and dancing at the Party Field. Some claimed that it was the birthday of Sam Gardner. Others said it was the day the Golden Tree first flowered in SR 1420. A third theory held that it was the Elves' New Year. The Shire's April 6 was more or less equivalent to yestar� (the first day of the year) in the Calendar of Imladris. In Buckland the Horn of the Mark was blown at sundownon November 2, followed by bonfires and feasts. This event recalled the first blowing of the Horn in the Shire in 3019.

From the Appendixes of the Lord of the Rings

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