The Reckoning of Time

in Valinor and Middle-earth throughout the ages

by Lalaith <andreas.moehn@wiesbaden.netsurf.de>

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The Appendix on calendars (TC) may well be the least often read part of LR. More than others it may appear to the casual reader as a desparate attempt to fill some pages that could have been used for different purposes (say, more hobbit family trees). The extremely compressed and easily confusing account of the described calendar systems may add to passing by this section.

Yet, it ought not to be so. Rather than being a mathematical pastime, the calendar systems form an integral part of the history and chronology of Arda, not only in TC but also in several other documents. It may therefore be helpful to the readers of LR to lay out Arda's different ways to reckon time in a more systematic fashion, including an annual calendar table, where possible.

A day-by-day calendar of 2941 TA in Steward's, Shire, and Imladris reckoning, based upon the following discussion and the essay The Moon and Durin's Day, 2941 TA, is available as a separate document.

The Valian Year

Other than the calendars of Middle-earth, the Valian Year never achieved a definite composition. Notes about an early system are spread throughout AV and TE.: here, the Valian Year, valid throughout the Ages of the Trees, equalled exactly 10 solar years. However, it had as well 365 days, and these were divided into 12 months of 30 days each (entry LEP-). Each five days were added to a lemna or week and named in sequence:

Quenya

Noldorin (Sindarin)

(Ar)Manwen

Ar Vanwe*

(Ar)Ulmon

Ar Uiar

(Ar)Veruen

Ar Vedhwen or Ar Velegol

(Ar)Fanturion

Ar Fennuir

Nessaron or Neldion

Ar Nethwelein or Ar Neleduir

* under the entry AR- called Arvanwe

How the months were named is not recorded. Minyen, the first day of the year, and quantien, the last day, seem to have played a special rôle (entry YEN-). The remaining five days to sum up 365 were collected in the centre of the Valian Year by an endien, enedhim or middle week following the 6th month, often called Aldalemnar and Galadlevnar or Week of the Trees. This calendaric conception later reappeared in a draft of the Dunédainic reckoning (PM) which however used the traditional seven-days week. 100 Valian Years were finally added to an age or randa (entry RAN-). There are no informations about leap years or the relation of the year to the seasons.

According to this conception, in the Ages of the Sun seven solar hours corresponded to one former hour of the Trees. A Year of the Sun was initially meant to consist of 350 days, so that it would again have been shorter than the Valian Year by a factor 10. However, the plan of the Valar was double-crossed by the actual movement of the celestial bodies, and a Valian Year finally became equal to 9.582 years consisting of the familiar 365.2422 days that required the introduction of complicated leap-year reckoning.

This appears quite surprising, for some records of AA take rather long if converted into years. One of their consequences is that the Noldor spent about 40 years on flight - as long as the Exodus and certainly not unintenionally so!

But alas: a late statement found in MT (but belonging to AF) says that ultimately, one Valian Year corresponded even to "twelve times twelve mortal years" (MT). This finally toppled the chronology of AA: it is entirely inconceivable that the Noldor would have spent about 700 years to leave Valinor. So the remark that "we may, as did the Eldar themselves, use the Valian unit" (MT) is certainly not referring to the entries of AA as a footnote suggests, but rather to the mathematical definition of the Valian Year. Hence, if the same structure still applied, with 1 Valian Year = 144 solar years we obtain:

·         1 Valian Day = 52.596 d = 1,263.304 h

·         1 Valian Hour = 4.383 d = 105.192 h

If the original plan of the Valar had still been a year of 350 days, one Valian Year would have been equal to 150,271 solar years. It is likely that a more even value of 150 years was intended.

There is still no statement about months or leap-years in the Valian Year of whatever definition; probably neither did exist. However, L347 discusses the „Quenya names of the 6-day week, brought from Valinor", and we thus have specific evidence that at least a reckoning of weeks had been introduced. This concept prevailed in the Calendar of Imladris, see below.

According to AA, the solar reckoning was retained in Valinor even after its removal from Arda.

Note: There is no need to discuss the evolution of the Middle-earth calendars in the changing conceptions of Arda, for this has been done in PM. Nothing could be added to that.

Beleriandic calendars in the First Age

We do not know what kind of calendars were used in Beleriand during the Ages of the Trees. When sun and moon first rose in the sky, the need to design a new calendar must have become evident to everyone who had eyes to see; however, as no one in Beleriand maintained contact to the Valar the diurnal and annual motions of the new celestial bodies had to be traced by observation. This empiric process certainly took a considerable length of time, not at least because the gained ephemerides were soon spoilt by the celestial bodies' deviations and variations from the intended orbit. Thus, many events esp. in the first two centuries of the First Age are probably dated in retrospective conjecture and thus not fully reliable.

There was probably a generally valid calendar established. Even if King Thingol should have initiated a standard reckoning by decree, by the time he could have issued it several regions were already decoupled from events in the outside world. Thus, when Gondolin much later celebrated a festival known as "the Gates of Summer" (S) at the day before the summer solstice, this cannot readily be assumed for all of Beleriand.

However, a few features of the most common Beleriandic calendar are distinguishable: The Noldor had introduced the Valinorean week or enquië, and very early in the Second Age it was adopted - and subsequently altered - by the Edain of Númenor. One enquië, as mentioned before, consisted of six or days which were arranged in the following sequence:

Quenya

Sindarin

Translation

Elenya

Orgilion

Starday

Anarya

Oranor

Sunday

Isilya

Orithil

Mo(o)nday

Aldúya

Orgaladhad

Treesday

Menelya

Ormenel

Heavensday

Valanya
(Tárion)

Orbelain (Rodyn)

Valarday

It seems as well that the first day of the Beleriandic reckoning was called yestarë and the last day mettarë, for both reappeared in the Númenórean calendar and then in the Imladris reckoning. The New Year was probably celebrated in spring by the Eldar, referring to the spring 1 FA when the rising of the sun provoked the Awakening of the Elves (QE). The feast of Mereth Aderthad, held in spring of 20 FA, may in fact have been a New Year's celebration, while the Edain "adhered to the custom of beginning the year in mid-winter." (TC) Like the later Calendar of Imladris did, the Beleriandic reckoning probably did not count months of any kind. About annual cycles, leap-years etc. we have no information.

It may appear surprising that Angband as well heeded this or another astronomically-based calendar: But Morgoth's argument of course was tactical: He initiated p.e. the Dagor Bragollach at the winter solstice (GA) and the attack on Gondolin at Midsummer's Eve because he correctly expected general attention to be low on such occasions (and, as he did so repeatedly, it seems that the Noldorin strategists were quite reluctant to learn from experience...).

The Calendar of Imladris

This is the only Elvish calendar preserved in some detail, but as seen before, it featured many details that were already present in the most common Eldarin calendar of the First Age. The Imladris Reckoning, however, was of course established in the second half of the Second Age - not before it became obvious to the Noldor that there would be no return to Eregion.

Its cardinal unit was the yén, corresponding to 144 coranári "or 'sun-round' when considered more or less astronomically, but usually called loa 'growth'" (TC) for agricultural purposes. The yén, we may add, was also equivalent to one Valian Year in the conception of MT, but some hobbit remarked that it equalled 144 coranári simply because "the Eldar preferred to reckon in sixes and twelves as far as possible" (TC). Also, "for ritual rather than practical purposes" (TC) the Eldar divided a yén into 8766 enquier in consecutive numbering. One yén thus consisted of 52596 and one loa of 60.8 enquier or 365 ; the years then began with the same day of the week again after a 24-year cycle.

The loa was further divided into six units of different length "that might be regarded either as long months or short seasons". (TC) These were called in consecutive order "spring, summer, autumn, fading" or "leaf-fall", "winter, stirring" (TC). The whole year was arranged like that:

·         New Year's Day or yestarë

·         spring (54 days; this is remarkably close to the length of a Valian Day as given in AA)

·         summer (72 days)

·         autumn (54 days)

·         three holidays called enderi or middle-days

·         fading or leaf-fall (54 days)

·         winter (72 days)

·         stirring (54 days)

·         mettarë, the last day.

The New Year was commonly celebrated a few days after the vernal equinox. On the first glance, this seems thus to bear no astronomical significance. The vernal equinox and the solstices had no special position in the Calendar of Imladris, though it is recorded that both "midsummer's eve" and "midsummer's day" (that to the Elves were one single day for they reckoned the "from sunset to sunset" (TC)) were celebrated in Rivendell (H, III). A celebration of Yule on the other hand "was not an Elvish custom, and so would not have been celebrated in Rivendell." (GN). But closer scrutiny reveals that the loa centered quite precisely on the autumnal equinox.

Note: One may thus wonder in what condition the Grey Annals (GA) and the Tale of Years of the First Age (YF) were preserved in Imladris. In their published form, they are very clearly based on an Edainic or Hobbitish calendar for they are given in solar years that begin not in springtime but at Yule: This hobbitish term specifically appears in YF. Was then the coranar rather then the yén the standard unit of Eldarin annals?

Imladris introduced required leap years in an unusual manner: 3 additional enderi were inserted into each 12th loa except the last loa of each 3rd yén (in other words, each 432nd loa). This means that most of the time the Calendar of Imladris was dragging behind the astronomical reality by more than a day! The autumnal equinox for example shifted within 12 years from the last day of autumn to the middle enderë. "Of the adjustment of any remaining inaccuracy there is no record." (TC) But there was a further adjustment in the Imladris reckoning, no doubt, for if the calendar had stayed uncorrected since the foundation of Imladris, its deficit would till the end of the Third Age have accumulated four full days.

Unfortunately, one vital information is lacking in the description of the Imladris calendar: There is no hint at which historical event the reckoning was supposed to start, and so, it cannot be satisfyingly calibrated against the other calendars nor its own weekdays properly applied. One possibility is that the foundation of Imladris in 1697 SA was taken as the first coranar of 1 yén. However, in that case 11 cycles of 432 years would just have been accomplished thirty years before the War of the Ring and would have required the dropping of the three leap-enderi. But according to the Red Book of Westmarch "that has not happened in our time." (TC) It may again be likely that the Elves observed the traditional reckoning of Ages: after all, it was them who had introduced it. So, if 1 TA corresponded to 1 coranar 1 yén the Third Age would have lasted almost exactly 21 yén - but again, the dropping of the leap-enderi would have been just due when the Red Book of Westmarch was written! So we have to assume some other event as the initial date of the Imladris Calendar - p.e. 3319 SA when Arda was made round and all earth and heaven changed?

The following table displays the relationship of the Calendar of Imladris to the cardinal points of the year immediately following a leap-year. Holidays are marked in blue, leap-days in italics.

Days after solstice

 Day of the season

Season in Quenya

Season in Sindarin

Notes

1
to
41

32
to
72

V Hrívë

Rhîw

1: Winter Solstice

42
to
89

1
to
48

VI Coirë

Echuir

 

90
to
95

49
to
54

 

 

90: Vernal equinox

96

 

Mettarë

?

 

97

 

Yestarë

?

“Elvish New Year”

98
to
151

1
to
54

I Tuilë

Ethuil

 

152
to
183

1
to
32

II Lairë

Laer

 

184
to
223

33
to
72

 

 

184: Summer solstice
(Midyear's Day)

224
to
276

1
to
53

III Yávië

Iavas

 

277

54

 

 

277: Autumnal equinox (actual Elvish midyear)

278

 

1 Enderë

?

 

279

 

2 Enderë

?

 

280

 

3 Enderë

?

 

366

 

4 Enderë

?

 

367

 

5 Enderë

?

 

368

 

6 Enderë

?

 

281
to
334

1
to
54

IV Quellë or
Lasse-lanta

Firith or Narbeleth

 

335
to
365

1
to
31

V Hrívë

Rhîw

 

The Dwarvish reckoning

The calendar used by Durin's folk was an independent development much different from the Elvish solution. The Dwarvish reckoning was still in use when the secret door was built into Erebor but was finally replaced by the Steward's Reckoning (TC) and widely forgotten. Yet even then, the Dwarves continued to celebrate Durin's Day, the new year, as a holiday.

From what we can deduce they reckoned a lunar calendar, probably because the moon had been the first major celestial light rising above Middle-earth. It was not based upon mathematical calculation but on actual observation: It is thus probable that for example the outpost on top of Khazad-dûm's Endless Stair was not meant so much for observing approaching enemies but the skies.

Durin's Day was celebrated in late autumn, at the evening of the first actual observation of "the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter" (H III) when it was visible together with the sun in the sky (which it always is on such occasions). This may include evidence that like the Elves, the Dwarves reckoned days from sunset to sunset. But defining the year by actual observation means of course that the calendar was heavily dependent upon the observer's location and the local weather conditions, so that in a given year Erebor's calendar could appear much different from Moria's. Also, lunar years are by nature very much of uneven length to keep more or less in accordance with the seasons, and thus leap-days and even leap-months must have been abundant. It is obvious why this inconvenient system was eventually dropped.

It seems furtheron likely that the Dwarvish calendar distinguished (lunar) months but no weeks. The Northmen, and from them the hobbits, probably adopted their earliest calendar reckoning from durin's folk long before they met the Eldar, and the hobbits recalled "that they had no 'week' when they were still a wandering people" (TC) but "they had 'months', governed more or less by the Moon" (TC). The week of the Númenórean calendar indeed was mentioned as "the feature of their reckoning earliest adopted by alien peoples" (TC), namely the "Men in the North", to be precise.

The King's Reckoning

The Númenorean reckoning is probably a combination of First Age Eldarin and Dwarvish calendars. Thus, the loa and the enquie, as well as yestarë and mettarë, were adopted from the Elves but from the Dwarves probably the 12 astar or months by which the Númenorean year was divided. There also were seasons, but only four, and they "had no exact definitions" (TC) and were probably individually applied according to local climate. Instead of three enderi, only one day called loëndë or Mid-Year's Day was placed in the middle of the year, at the summer solstice so as to achieve again the Eldarin coranar of 365 . The yén however replaced by a decadic haranyë of 100 loa whose only practical purpose was to define when correcting the accumulating deficits became necessary to keep the calendar in agreement with the seasons.

The arrangement of the Númenorean calendar, eventually called the Kings' Reckoning, was therefore like this:

·         yestarë at or close to the winter solstice,

·         months I to V (30 days each)

·         month VI (31 days)

·         loëndë

·         month VII (31 days)

·         months VI to XII (30 days each)

·         mettarë.

Other sources mention a series of holidays known together as the Three Prayers: "for the coming year at the Erukyermë in the first days of spring ... at the Erulaitalë in midsummer, and ... at the Eruhantalë at the end of autumn" (DN), in other words, somewhere near the mettarë of the secular reckoning. The big surprise is that Erukyermë hails "the coming year"! This refers us to a calendar that like those of the Eldar begins the new year around the vernal equinox, not at the winter solstice of Edainic tradition. So were there two calendars existing side by side in Númenór, maybe a religious and a secular one?

At an unknown date in the Second Age someone introduced a major reform to the Númenorean reckoning. It had the following effects:

1.      adding a seventh day (Sea-day) to the enquie,

2.      changing the name of the Treesday to singular,

3.      reckoning days from sunrise to sunrise.

One loa hence consisted of 52.14 Númenorean enquier of the new kind. While the reason for changing the name of Treesday was rather patriotical (it was now supposed to refer to the White Tree of Númenór rather than to the Two Trees of Valinor) there is no obvious benefit in the other reforms, either astronomical or mathematical. The statement that the Númenoreans were "desiring a seventh day" (TC) explains nothing. There is no mathematical or astronomical argument in favour of a seven-day against a six-day week. The only potential reason is maybe a desire to set the Númenorean reckoning deliberately apart from its Eldarin origins, which may then indicate that it was actually a product of the late Kings who were already under the Shadow. That it was then still retained in the Realms in Exile may look surprising.

The weekdays now adhered to the following sequence (note that Friday in this reckoning is actually the highest day, resembling the modern Sunday):

Weekday

Númenórean

Quenya

Sindarin

Saturday

Elenya

Orgilion

Sunday

Anarya

Oranor

Monday

Isilya

Orithil

Tuesday

Aldëa

Orgaladh

Wednesday

Menelya

Ormenel

Thursday

Eärenya

Oraearon

Friday

Valanya or Tárion

Orbelain or Rodyn

This mode was eventually known as the King's Reckoning, and it spawned the variations of all Mannish and Hobbitish calendars of the Third Age.

The application of a leap year – in the first edition of LR, but only there, called atendëa „double-middle“- was very similar to that of the Gregorian calendar, only at a different position of the year: the Mid-Year's day was in each 4th year replaced by two enderi except the last year of each century. A Númenorean millenium hence consisted of (365 days * 100 years + 24 leap-days) * 10 = 365240 days. This was more than two days short of the astronomical value of 365242.2 days. The millenial corrections made in 1000, 2000, 3000 SA that are not specified in TC must therefore have consisted of adding two leap-days to these years rather than omitting one, leaving thus the stated "millenial deficit of 4 hours, 46 minutes, 40 seconds" (TC) or about 0.2 days. These deficits were left stand and so added up over the millenia.

It is nevertheless surprising that the Kings' Reckoning stayed unchallenged for 5000 years. Certainly, an event as drastic as the change from a flat to a round Earth in 3319 SA should have caused a trememdous havoc to all existing calendar systems!?! And yet it seems not even the accumulated millenial deficits were touched.

Note: That it was not better matched against the historical events we probably have to refer to the immense time pressure under which TC was written. Or should we discard the whole concept of a flat Arda - never mentioned in LR - and settle with the refined ideas of MR stating that Arda had been a globe from the beginning?

Other changes certainly should have affected the King's Reckoning as well. Certainly, when the kings of Númenor banned the use of Quenya, they did not leave the names of the months unchallenged? However, no Adûnaic version of the Númenorean calendar is preserved and cannot be reconstructed from the known vocabulary, either. Another short-lived reform probably happened in Ar-Pharazôn's time, for it is not credible that Sauron would have tolerated the celebration of a Valar-day (Valanya) without replacing it against a Melkor-day.

After the Downfall, Elendil and his successors (as well as, we may assume, the Black Númenoreans of Umbar) maintained the King's Reckoning for a long time. The Northmen of Rhóvanion adopted the Numenórean week during the first millenium TA and lateron, perhaps by decree of Vidugavia who sought approach to the more advanced Gondorian culture, borrowed the entire calendar. But they translated the names of the days and months, relics of which "were found in Dale and Rohan" (TC). These translations were picked up by the Hobbits and led p.e. to their own particular variations of the set of weekdays:

Weekday

Early Hobbitish, ca. 2100 TA

Late Hobbitish, ca. 3000 TA

Saturday

Sterrendei

Sterday

Sunday

Sunnendei

Sunday

Monday

Monendei

Monday

Tuesday

Trewesdei

Trewsday

Wednesday

Hevenesdei

Hevensday (Hensday)

Thursday

Meresdei

Mersday

Friday

Highdei

Highday

Third-Age Variations of the King's Reckoning

In the end, several differing systems grew out of the Kings' Reckoning. We do not know what calendar was used in Umbar after its successful secession from Gondor under the Castamirioni; the collapse of both exilic kingdoms around 2000 TA was however marked by a calendar reform in Gondor, called the Revised Calendar of Mardil or Stewards' Reckoning. For the Exiles had offset the King's Reckoning by resetting the annual recording to 1 TA and calculating leap years anew from then. That, and the continued accumulation of the millenial deficits, had brought the calendar till 2059 TA about 1.6 days out of synchronicity with the astronomical observations. Therefore Steward Mardil introduced a major reform. First he inserted two leap-days in 2059 TA. "But this still left about 8 hours deficit" (TC). It should be noted, however, that this is a minus deficit, that is, the calendar was now 8 hours in advance. Further calculations indicate that, though this is not stated, the leap-day of 2060 TA was dropped in consequence. Steward Hador then "to 2360 added 1 day though this deficiency had not quite reached that amount" (TC), being now a delay of only 0.3 day. Till 3020 TA, without any further correction, the deficit had once again accumulated to 0.77 days and was thus "not yet amounted to 1 day" (TC).

Aside of this turmoil, Steward Mardil somewhat refined the reckoning of months in the Númenorean calendar. He made all months of equal length, 30 days, and arranged the two days gained such symmetrically to the other holidays, so that 1.IV to 30.VI. were simply shifted one day forward and 1.VII. to 30.IX. one day backward. The somewhat confusing description in TC resolves into the following pattern:

·         yestarë

·         months I to III

·         tuilerë or Spring-day

·         months IV to VI

·         loëndë (in leap-years replaced by two enderi)

·         months VII to IX

·         yavierëor Autumn-day

·         months X to XII

·         mettarë

The Stewards' Reckoning was "adoped eventually by most of the users of the Westron language" (TC), including the Dwarves and even the Eldar who maintained their former traditions only for ritual purposes. The names of the months and days were now popularly used in Quenya (though Dale and Rohan, as mentioned, retained their old names at least among the lower population), only the Dúnedain adhered to Sindarin versions.

But on the territory of the North Kingdom, two other systems designed by hobbit-minds had meanwhile grown out of the King's Reckoning. The first of these was the Bree Reckoning, originally identical to the Númenorean mode except that the year 1 B.R. corresponded to 1300 TA and the names of months and days were applications of the Northern Mannish translations, not the common Quenya forms. The second one was the Shire Reckoning that appeared identical to the Bree Reckoning except for the year 1 S.R. being equivalent to 1601 TA. After the fall of Arthedain, both regions maintained their local variations of the Kings' Reckoning, certainly not only because "the hobbits were conservative" (TC) but also because they had no contact to the Stewardship of Gondor and its decrees (it can be assumed that the Mannish population of Bree-country followed the hobbits on that behalf. After all, there was no point in endless Prancing Pony-discussions about which day it was now). Both systems kept their leap-years synchronous to the standard King's Reckoning, thus in the Shire, years -4, -8, etc. were leap-years except the last year of a century, but in Bree whose reckoning deviated by 301 years it concerned years -5, -9 etc. except "the first year of the century" (TC).

Later there were, however, two reforms of the Shire Reckoning installed that both were "eventually also adopted in Bree" (TC): The first one cut off the 31st days of months VI and VII, arranging them as Lithedays around the loëndë. This was sort of a return to the three Elvish enderi, so the former day 2. VII. now became 1.VII. and so on. The second or Shire-reform, made when Isengrim II was Thain of the Shire, placed the Mid-Year's Day (or the enderi replacing it in leap-years) outside the reckoning of weekdays, so that each year started and ended at the same day of the week.

Note: All the Númenorean-based calendars evidently are meant to precede the features of the Julianic and Gregorian reckoning. The weekdays follow the pattern ascribed to the Chaldaean astrologers, though without the planetary connotations except for sun and moon. Calendar reforms introducing months of equal length and a day outside of the weeks were the matter of much dispute in the Twenties of the 20th century, see Dr. J. Plassmann, "Das Himmelsbuch", Berlin 1925:

"Allen weiteren Reformvorschlägen ist Mißtrauen geboten. Es ist ja wahr, daß die jetzigen Monatslängen ... hier und da kleine Ungelegenheiten zur Folge haben, die aber doch nicht ganz wegzuschaffen wären ... Gänzlich zu verwerfen sind alle Anträge, die auf eine Durchbrechung des ehrwürdigen Zyklus der Woche hinauslaufen, etwa durch Einführung des Doppelsonntags. Was man damit anstrebt, nämlich die feste Verknüpfung jedes bestimmten Monatstages mit einem bestimmten Wochentage, würde zudem die Sicherheit des Datierens erschweren".

No doubt that this inspired the Shire calendar.

It may be convenient at this point to re-sort the known historical data of TC in chronological order:

1 SA

Official initial point of the Kings' Reckoning in Númenor

"later"

Calendar reform, installing King's Reckoning with a 7-day week

1679

Foundation of Imladris

3319

Downfall of Númenor, Earth made round

3442 SA = 1 TA

Third Age begins

before 1000

Númenórean week adopted by Northmen (Dale, Éothéod)

1300

Bree Reckoning begins

1601

Shire Reckoning begins

later than 2000

Lithedays introduced into the Shire Reckoning

2059

Mardil's revision: 2 leap-days added

2060

Stewards' Reckoning introduced (leap-day probably dropped)

ca. 2100

Year-book of Tuckborough begun, earliest record of hobbitish weekdays

2360

Hador's reform: 1 day added. Stewards' Reckoning later adopted all over except Shire and Bree

ca. 2700

Latest Shire reform: Midyear's Day no longer a day of the week (adopted by Bree)

3022 TA

Fourth Age, New Era begin

However, what about the millenial deficits? If Bree and the Shire adopted the King's Reckoning without a change, they inherited a deficit of almost two days which would have accumulated to 2.8 days till the end of the Third Age. Yet we do not learn of any offset of either against the Steward's Reckoning. But how the hobbits dealt with correcting millenial deficits, and where they were running the observatories required to do so, we are not told.

And why, despite all the reforms, was the fall of Barad-dûr yet said to have happened at 25.III. "in both Kings' and Stewards' Reckoning" (TC)? This should by all likelihood read "Shire and Stewards' Reckoning" for since Hador's reform of 2360 TA the King's Reckoning was of course one day off.

The following table demonstrates the relationship of Kings', Shire, Stewards' and Imladris Reckoning in 3019 TA with regard to the cardinal seasons. It was a year in which the autumnal equinox fell on 54.III. according to the Imladris calendar. That was when "on the day of the New Year of the Elves, Celeborn and Thranduil met in the midst of the forest" of Mirkwood; this meeting is dated 6.IV. (TY) This allows us to adjust the Imladris Reckoning against the other calendars at least for this year. The presumable deviation of King's and Steward's Reckoning caused by Hador's reform is ignored for convenience.

Day of the Year

Kings' Reckoning

Shire/Bree Reckoning

Stewards' Reckoning

Notes

 

Day of the Month

Quenya

Sindarin

Day of the Month

Shire

Bree

Day of the Month

 

 

1

 

Yestarë

?

 

Yule

Yule

 

Yestarë

Winter solstice

2
to
31

1
to
30

I Narvinyë

Narwain

1
to
30

I Afteryule

Frery

1
to
30

I

 

32
to
61

1
to
30

II Nénimë

Nínui

1
to
30

II Solmath

Solmath

1
to
30

II

 

62
to
91

1
to
30

III Súlimë

Gwaeron

1
to
30

III Rethe

Rethe

1
to
30

III

28.III.: Vernal equinox

92

1

IV Viressë

Gwirith

1

IV Astron

Chithing

 

Tuilerë

 

93
to
121

2
to
30

 

 

2
to
30

 

 

1
to
29

IV

 

122

1

V Lótessë

Lothron

1

V Thrimidge

Thrimidge

30

 

 Erukyermë

123
to
151

2
to
30

 

 

2
to
30

 

 

1
to
29

V

 

152

1

VI Nárië

Nórui

1

VI Forelithe

Lithe

30

 

 

153
to
181

2
to
30

 

 

2
to
30

 

 

1
to
29

VI

 

182

31

 

 

 

1 Lithe

Summerday 1

30

 

 

183

 

Loëndë

?

 

Midyear's Day

Summerday 2

 

Loëndë

Summer solstice; Erulaitalë

366

 

2 Enderë

?

 

Overlithe

?

 

2 Enderë

 

184

1

VII Cermië

Cerveth

 

2 Lithe

Summerday 3

1

VII

 

185
to
213

2
to
30

 

 

1
to
29

VII Afterlithe

Mede

2
to
30

 

 

 

214

31

 

 

30

 

 

1

VIII

 

215
to
243

1
to
29

VIII Ùrimë

Úrui

1
to
29

VIII Wedmath

Wedmath

2-30

 

 

244

30

 

 

30

 

 

1

IX

 

245
to
273

1
to
29

IX Yavannië

Ivanneth

1
to
29

IX Halimath

Harvestmath

2
to
30

 

 

274

30

 

 

30

 

 

 

Yáviérë

 

275
to
304

1
to
30

X Narquelië

Narbeleth

1
to
30

X Winterfilth

Wintring

1
to
30

X

3.X.: Autumnal equinox

305
to
334

1
to
30

XI Hísimë

Hithui

1
to
30

XI Blodmath

Blooting

1
to
30

XI

 

335
to
364

1
to
30

XII Ringarë

Girithron

1
to
30

XII Foreyule

Yulemath

1
to
30

XII

Eruhantalë?

365

 

Mettarë

?

 

Yule

Yule

 

Mettarë

 

The New Reckoning

The New Reckoning was a political demonstration set up in 3021 TA that ignored any astronomical significance. It was said in Gondor to signify "a return to Kings' Reckoning" (TC) which, having a new king, deemed somehow appropriate. But in fact it mimicked the Shire calendar. Its initial date was officially chosen as being the year when "the departure of Master Elrond" (TC) happened. The imminent reason, though, was probably more rational: Elessar wanted to avoid further havoc with the leap-years and thus chose one that would not repeat Anárion's blunder in setting up 1 TA.

The new yestarë intentionally commemorated the day of 3019 TA when Sméagol-Gollum saved the world by tripping over the edge of Sammath Naur (25. III. S.R.), thus it shifted against the old one by 86 days if we want to express it more accurately than that the months were now "beginning generally five days earlier than previously" (TC). For that is in fact only true for the spring and autumn months.

Note: The beginning of the year at 25. III. Is certainly not accidental. Matter of fact, the calendar used in GB itself began at March 25 until the final adoption of the Gregorian reform in 1752. Because of that discrepancy, the British fiscal year still begins at April 1! No doubt, Tolkien intended a “historical” explanation for this New Year date that relates to the vernal equinox as Christmas does to the winter solstice.

There followed the usual sequence of months and intermediate days, now however beginning with the month of viressë instead of narvinyë. Another novelty was the insertion of the leap-day, now called cormarë, before the enderi and no longer after loëndë. This was intended to double the new 30.VI. which for some reason commemorated the birthday of a guy called Frodo Baggins who failed on an important mission.

The following table displays the relationship between the New Reckoning, the continued Shire Reckoning, and the cardinal seasons.

Day of the Year

New Reckoning

Shire Reckoning

Notes

 

Day of the Month

Quenya

Sindarin

Day of the Month

Shire

Bree

 

1

7

X Narvinyë

Narwain

 

Yule

Yule

Winter solstice

2
to
24

8
to
30

 

 

1
to
23

I Afteryule

Frery

 

25
to
31

1
to
8

XI Nénimë

Nínui

24
to
30

 

 

 

32
to
54

9
to
30

 

 

1
to
23

II Solmath

Solmath

 

55
to
61

1
to
6

XII Súlimë

Gwaeron

24
to
30

 

 

 

62
to
84

9
to
30

 

 

1
to
23

III Rethe

Rethe

 

85

 

Mettarë

?

24

 

 

 

86

 

Yestarë

?

25

 

 

 

87
to
91

1
to
5

I Viressë

Gwirith

26
to
30

 

 

28.III.: Vernal equinox

92
to
116

6
to
30

 

 

1
to
25

IV Astron

Chithing

 

117
to
121

1
to
5

II Lótessë

Lothron

26
to
30

 

 

 

122
to
146

6
to
30

 

 

1
to
25

V Thrimidge

Thrimidge

 

147
to
151

1
to
5

III Nárië

Nórui

26
to
30

 

 

 

152
to
176

6
to
30

 

 

1
to
25

VI Forelithe

Lithe

 

177
to
181

1
to
5

IV Cermië

Cerveth

26
to
30

 

 

 

182

6

 

 

 

1 Lithe

Summerday 1

 

183

7

 

 

 

Midyear's Day

Summerday 2

Summer solstice

366

---

 

 

 

Overlithe

?

 

184

8

 

 

 

2 Lithe

Summerday 3

 

185
to
206

9
to
30

 

 

1
to
22

VII Afterlithe

Mede

 

207
to
214

1
to
8

V Ùrimë

Úrui

23
to
30

 

 

 

215
to
236

9
to
30

 

 

1
to
22

VIII Wedmath

Wedmath

 

237
to
244

1
to
8

VI Yavannië

Ivanneth

23
to
30

 

 

 

245
to
266

9
to
30

 

 

1
to
22

IX Halimath

Harvestmath

 

267

 

1 Enderë

?

23

 

 

 

268

 

Loëndë

?

24

 

 

 

269

 

2 Enderë

?

25

 

 

 

270
to
274

1
to
5

VII Narquelië

Narbeleth

26
to
30

 

 

 

275
to
299

6
to
30

 

 

1
to
25

X Winterfilth

Wintring

3.X.: Autumnal equinox

300
to
304

1
to
5

VIII Hísimë

Hithui

26
to
30

 

 

 

305
to
329

6
to
30

 

 

1
to
25

XI Blodmath

Blooting

 

330
to
334

1
to
5

IX Ringarë

Girithron

26
to
30

 

 

 

335
to
359

6
to
30

 

 

1
to
25

XII Foreyule

Yulemath

 

360
to
364

1
to
5

X Narvinyë

Narwain

26
to
30

 

 

 

365

6

 

 

 

Yule

Yule

 

Note on the King's Letter

A different form of reckoning was used by Aragorn in the Epilog (SD). This alternate system is not described in TC but can be found in PM. According to this version, "dates were usually given in official documents by the Seasons, but the old month-names ... remained in private and popular use."

The official mode is represented in the King's Letter: The "thirty-first day of Stirring" (echuir) 16 N.R. is here set against 23.II. 1436 S.R. and the "eighth day of Spring" (ethuil) 17 N.R. against 2.IV. 1436 S.R.. (thus 1 N.R. = 1420 S.R. = 3020 TA, not 3021 TA as CT suggests in a footnote). This corresponds to the abandoned calendaric system displayed in PM but not to TC which required 31 echuir, if at all, to be set against 24.II. S.R.

List of Abbreviations

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