The Dwarrow Calendar

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).

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About The Dwarrow Scholar

The Dwarrow Scholar first experienced the brilliance of Tolkien when he received a copy of The Hobbit from his uncle as a kid, reading it feverishly again and again. Some years on, when he got his very own walk-man (aye forget about tiny iPods, this thing was a brick and played cassette tapes) he made his own little audiotape of The Hobbit, so he could listen to it on his bike on his way to school. Between reenacting the Battle of Five armies with 4 of his school friends (still feel sorry for the kid that had to be the Orc) and before the days of internet, you would find Roy frequently in libraries trying to find all he could about Tolkien and his beloved dwarves. When Roy isn’t delving into Neo-Khuzdul or searching for lost dwarven treasures on the net he’s enjoying time with his wife and son, re-reading his tormented Tolkien paperbacks, watching a good movie, learning new languages or playing a game of LoTRO on Laurelin as Kandral Strongbeard.
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11 Responses to The Dwarrow Calendar

  1. KiBBiK says:

    Are they Celebrate gwivashazdînmerag (Treasures of the Land Fest / Harvest Fest) both in the 13th month and the 1 month? o.O or am i just stupid xD

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    • You need to concider that the 13th month is marked only 7 times each 19 years (about every 3 years), when this happens the Harvest Fest is held in the 13th month instead of the 1st month of the year. In years where the 13th month is held Harvest Fest ends on 16th of that month – (only if the 12th month is followed by the 13th month otherwise it would be 16th of the first month).
      Hope that clarifies it.

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  2. Ëol says:

    You say a Dwarven year lasts 354 days but when I calculate the dates from your calendar then I become 355 days in a normal 12 month year. And with the 13th month in the year 11363 (2013-2014) I become 383 days with the 28 day-long 13th month is this normal or am I totally wrong? 🙂

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    • Like the Jewish calendar the Dwarven one used the Metonic cycle of 19 years, in which 12 years have 12 months and 7 years have 13 months. Hence you will find that some years will count more days than the standard 354 days. A standard lunar year has 354 days, however, (just like the common Hebrew calendar) a year can have a length of 353, 354 or 355 days, while a leap Hebrew calendar year can have a length of 383, 384 or 385 days.

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  3. Gian says:

    Hello,

    Where does these names of the months come from?

    Also, which you would suggest would be the length of the months, specifically?

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  4. Gian says:

    Also, why do you say this is year 11361? If the calendar auto-corrects in cycles of 19 years, I assume we would be in the 106th cycle in 2014 and it would be the year 2014 of the common era, just like the gregorian calendar.

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  5. Mielameri says:

    Really interesting! So is this year (2013-2014) the 11th year of the cycle…? I’m also a little confused about the lengths of the months and how they vary

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    • The length of the months is in fact identical to what you would see with the old Hebrew calendar. The only difference is that each year starts on Durin’s Day. You will in fact have years of 13 and years of 12 months, as the example calendar 2013-2014 shows. And updated dwarven calendar will be posted online in the weeks to come.

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