Why this post ?
Well, it was my understanding that there was no such thing as a Dwarven calendar, apart from “Durin’s Day”. Tolkien wrote in great length about calendars of Elves, Hobbits and Men.. but nothing about the Dwarven calendar.
You might think.. who cares about a calendar?
Well, I do, as a calendar means holidays… and holidays are always a fine occasion to have some Ales and Pies (as if we needed an excuse). So I did some searching… it is a long read, but could be well worth it, enjoy!
Some of you that are familiar with Dwarrow history, as written in Tolkien’s writings, might know that a vast amount of what we believe to be Dwarven (or of Dwarrow origin) takes its inspiration from the rich Jewish culture, traditions and language. The best example of that is clearly “Khuzdul” (the Dwarven language), down to the pronunciation and sentence structure is a near copy of Hebrew. Even the way Dwarves are described in The Hobbit, indicates (according to scholars) the perception of many Anglo-Saxon Christians about Jews round the time the book was written (1937) – “There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent people like Thorin and Company, if you don’t expect too much.”
According to The History of the Hobbit, Tolkien was now influenced by his own selective reading of medieval texts regarding the Jewish people and their history. Tolkien himself said, and I quote: “The dwarves of course are quite obviously, wouldn’t you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic, obviously, constructed to be Semitic.” – so don’t take my word for it.
If you look closely at the relationship between the Tolkien Dwarven culture and the Jewish culture, you will find many similarities. To name a few… Medieval views of Jews also saw them as having a propensity for making well-crafted and beautiful things, a trait shared with Norse dwarves. The dwarves’ characteristics of being bearded, dispossessed of their homeland (the Lonely Mountain, their ancestral home, is the goal the exiled Dwarves seek to reclaim), and living among other groups whilst retaining their own culture are all derived from the medieval image of Jews, whilst their warlike nature stem from accounts in the Hebrew Bible.
Another of those examples is the Dwarven Calendar. Now, Tolkien has written in great detail about the calendars used by Men, Elves and Hobbits, but many believe he has not given us any details on the Dwarven calendar, that isn’t completely accurate however. We know from the Hobbit that the Dwarven Calendar is lunar based (like the Hebrew one). Unlike the Hebrew calendar, the Dwarven New Year starts on Durin’s Day, which is the day that begins the last cycle of the Moon. When on this day both the Sun and Moon may be seen in the sky together. That places Durin’s Day, anytime between about Oct. 7 and Nov. 6, on the last day before the astronomical new moon as the moon sets just before the sun. As the base of Tolkien’s Dwarven culture is believed to be a mix between of Old Norse and Hebrew cultures, I took up the challenge to find a bit more information about the Dwarrow Calendar. So we would at least have an excuse to celebrate more than one holiday a year 🙂
Working with the information we have from Tolkien’s writings about the Dwarven calendar – a Dwarven year must have either 12 or 13 months . The reason for having a 13th month is to ensure the lunar calendar realigns with the solar years, simply because a lunar month is shorter than a solar month. A lunar year (twelve lunar months) is only 354 days long: eleven days short of a solar year. For every solar year that passes, the calendar will ‘slip’ back by more than a week. This is much more than a technical inconvenience, because the passage of seasons follows the solar year, not the lunar. Any given date will ‘shift’ by six months every seventeen years or so – midsummer becomes midwinter in less than a generation.
The Dwarves seem to have taken a direct approach to this problem – they reset their calendar every single year. When Thorin says that their year starts on ‘the first day of the last moon of Autumn’, what he means is that the Dwarves find a point where the lunar and solar (seasonal) calendars coincide, and restart their calendar from that point.
So, with all this information (setting my base in the cultures, festivities and tradition of Old Norse, Hebrew and Tolkien Dwarrow history), this is what I came up with…..
Note: the full calendar for the next years is found in the Khuzdul tools, see “free khuzdul lessons”
A brief overview of the months, their times and holidays:
According to the Dwarrow Calendar we are in the year 11361.
Month 1 “‘âfdohyar” starts on: 26/10/2011 ends on: 23/11/2011 Holidays: 1) Ghiluz Durin (Durin’s Day) – 1st of ‘âfdohyar —- 2) gwivashazdînmerag (Treasures of the Land Fest / Harvest Fest) – ends on 16th of ‘âfdohyar
Month 2 “‘âfnarag” starts on: 24/11/2011 ends on: 23/12/2011 Holidays: Yuleblot (aka Mahalmerag or Yule Fest) – starts 20th of ‘âfnarag
Month 3 “‘âfgalab” 24/12/2011-21/01/2012 Holidays: Yuleblot (aka Mahalmerag or Yule Fest) – ends 18th of âfgalab
Month 4 “‘âfnudkhazâd” 22/01/2012-20/02/2012 Holidays: Ghiluzkhebabmerag (Forge Day Fest) – 19th of ‘âfnudkhazâd
Month 5 “‘âfanak” 21/02/2012-21/03/2012
Month 6 “‘âfmuhudtuzakh” 22/03/2012-19/04/2012 Holidays :muhudtuzakhmerag (Blessed Green Fest / Spring Fest) – 1st till 20th of ‘âfmuhudtuzakh
Month 7 “âfvalasirkha” 20/04/2012-19/05/2012
Month 8 “âfghuregablug” 20/05/2012-17/06/2012 Holidays: ghuregbuzramerag (” Deep Ale Fest” / Harnkegger Fest) – 9th till 19th of ‘âfghuregablug
Month 9 “âfghelekvust” 18/06/2012-17/07/2012 Holidays: ghelekvustmerag (Feast of Good Health / Summer Fest) – 3rd till 23rd of ‘âfghelekvust
Month 10 “âfkidhuzabad” 18/07/2012-15/08/2012
Month 11 “âfizhu” 16/08/2012-14/09/2012 Holidays: Lomil Zatamaradu (Night of the Kill) – evening of the last day of ‘âfizhu
Month 12 “âfhumryanj” 15/09/2012-14/10/2012 Holidays: gwivashazdînmerag (Treasures of the Land Fest / Harvest Fest) – starts on the last day of ‘âfhumryanj
Month 13 “âfthùrag” The 13th month is marked 7 times each 19 years (about every 3 years) – Next time this will take place is in 2014: from 25/09/2014 till 22/10/2014. In years where âfthùrag is held gwivashazdînmerag (Treasures of the Land Fest / Harvest Fest) – ends on 16th of ‘âfthùrag – (only if ‘âfhumryanj is followed by ‘âfthùrag -otherwise 16th of ‘âfdombar)
Meaning of the Month Names:
âfdohyar “Anvil Moon” Referring to Aulë and the creation of the Dwarves
âfnarag “Dark(ness) Moon” Referring to the time the Dwarves Fathers had to sleep before being awoken
âfgalab “Speaking Moon” Referring to the time the Dwarven Fathers were awoken.
âfnudkhazâd “Two Dwarves” Referring to the 2 surviving Dwarves after the death of Thingol in 502 of the 1st Age (Wars of Beleriand)
âfanak “The Arrival” Referring to the arrival of the Dwarves in Ered Luin in 1250 of the 2nd Age
âfmuhudtuzakh “Blessed Green” Referring to the first days of new life each year – “the first green on the fields”
âfvalasirkha “Moon of Valacirca” Referring to an important constellation of seven stars set in the sky by Varda as an enduring warning to Melkor and his servants. Also formed the symbol of Durin, seen on the doors of Moria.
âfghuregablug “Moon of Food and Ale” Referring to the first wheat harvests and the start of the Ale periode.
âfghelekvust “Moon of Good Health / Moon of Drunkeness” Referring to the period of plenty (of both food and ales) – lead up to the summer feast
âfkidhuz’abad “Moon of the Gold Mountain” Referring to the vast amounts of riches found at Khazad-dûm during the rule of Durin the Deathless
âfizhu “Moon of Few” Referring to the period of few – a period for remembrance and sparse living
âfhumryanj “Double Praise” Referring to the thanks to Mahal – lead up to Durin’s Day Feast and Harvest Feast
– Again, pointing out that we’ve used Tolkiens writings as a base – this is by no means lore, however can provide a more deeper understanding on the topic, allowing you to use it in your RP (for those dwarven Lotro RP-ers).