Middle-earth calendar refers to one of the systems of keeping time in the fictional Middle-earth devised by J. R. R. Tolkien, and described in The Lord of the Rings. Because Middle-earth was intended to be our world in the distant past, the basic structure of the calendar is similar to ours.
The Elves, owing to their longevity, reckoned in a period of 144 years called, in Quenya, the yén. This was divided into 8766 six-day "weeks", or enquier. They also recognised the solar year, which was called a coranar ("sun-round") or loa ("growth"). In Rivendell, the loa began on the spring equinox and was divided into six "months" or seasons, as follows.
|Quenya name||Sindarin name||English translation||Duration|
Five other days, two between coirë and tuilë and three between yávië and hrívë, meant the calendar added up to 365 days. Irregularities were allowed for by adding another three days every twelve years, except the last year of a yén.
The calendar adopted by the Men of Middle-earth was called the King's Reckoning, and was very similar to our own. It had a week of seven days, and divided the 365-day year of the Elves into twelve months (astar), ten with 30 days and two with 31. Also like our calendar, the Númenórean year began in midwinter. They retained the two days between the end of one year and the start of the next (mettarë and yestarë), but reduced the mid-year days to one (loëndë, essentially adding the other two to the mid-year "long months"). Leap years had two mid-year days. In the Second and Third Ages, years were reckoned from the beginning of the Age.
Various irregularities occurred in this calendar, especially following the Downfall. In T.A. 2060, Mardil Voronwë revised the calendar, and the new version became the Steward's Reckoning. The months of Steward's Reckoning all had 30 days, and there were two additional "extra" days at the equinoxes, tuilérë and yáviérë. The five extra days (the equinoxes, midsummer and two at midwinter) were holidays.
In T.A. 3019, the Reunited Kingdom adopted a New Reckoning, which began the year on the spring equinox, as in the Elven calendar.
The months of the Reckonings were in Quenya (or Sindarin among the Dúnedain) and were:
|Quenya name||Sindarin name|
(More detail can be found under Shire Calendar)
The Hobbits, who had adopted the King's Reckoning, altered it in a different way from the Steward's Reckoning. Like the Steward's Reckoning, they had twelve months of thirty days, and five holidays outside the months. However, they had three "extra" days in midsummer and two in midwinter, similar to the Elven calendar. In the Shire the three days of midsummer were called Lithedays, and the two days of midwinter were the Yuledays. In leap years, the extra day was added to the Lithedays and called Overlithe. The other innovation in the Shire calendar was to make Midsummer's Day (and the Overlithe) outside the week, as well as the month, meaning the days of the week would not change in relation to the days of the year. The Shire Reckoning is the calendar used in the Red Book of Westmarch, and hence in The Lord of the Rings. It counts from the founding of the Shire in T.A. 1600.
The Hobbit names of the months came from names used in Anduin in antiquity, and their meanings were often obscure or forgotten. They were:
|Shire name||Bree name|
|2 Yule||2 Yule|
|1 Lithe||First Summerday|
|Midyear's Day||Second Summerday|
|2 Lithe||Third/Fourth Summerday|
|1 Yule||1 Yule|
(Given the decidedly Old English sound of these names, it can be assumed that this is Tolkien's "translation" of the archaic Westron.)
Overlithe only occurred in leap years. 2 Yule corresponds with December 22.
- The Reckoning of Time A historical analysis of all the Tolkien calendars.
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