The calendar featured 12 months, all 30 days long, plus 5 or 6 named days added to round out 365 days (or 366 for leap years). Two of the named days were Yuledays; one was the first day of the year and the other was the last day of the year. Between June and July were the Lithedays. In regular years (not leap years) there were three: 1 Lithe, Mid-year's Day, and 2 Lithe. In leap years (every fourth year except in the last year of a century) an extra Overlithe Day was added after Mid-year's Day. All of the named days were major holidays (and a reason for feasting) with Overlithe being a day of special merrymaking. The two Yuledays were actually a portion of Yuletide, which included the last three and first three days of each year.
When the Hobbits were still a wandering people, their calendaric unit was not a 'week' , but a 'month', governed more or less by the Moon. However, through contact with alien peoples (perhaps the Dúnedain of Arnor) they adopted the notion of weeks which formed the Shire Reckoning. It was based on the King's Reckoning but with several minor alterations to fit their customs.
One innovation introduced by the Shire-hobbits was the Shire-reform. In the time of Thain Isengrim II they arranged that Mid-year’s Day (and the Overlithe) would not have a weekday name, which stopped the shifting of weekday names in relation to dates. This change made the first day of the year always correspond to the first day of the week, and the last day of the year always correspond to the last day of the week. Over time, since the same date in any year had the same weekday name as in any other year, the Shire-folk ceased to record the weekday in letters and diaries. Since no month began on a Friday this arrangement also birthed a jesting idiom in the Shire: "On Friday the first" referred to a non-existent day or one on which impossible things would occur (the full expression was "on Friday the first of Summerfilth").
Months of the year and special days
The Shire calendar's year was divided into 12 months of 30 days. Five additional days were added to create a 365-day year. The months followed the lunar cycle.
The twelve months of the Shire Calendar were: Afteryule, Solmath, Rethe, Astron, Thrimidge, Forelithe, Afterlithe, Wedmath, Halimath, Winterfilth, Blotmath, and Foreyule. Solmath was usually pronounced and sometimes written as Somath. Thrimidge was often written Thrimich and Blotmath was pronounced as Blodmath or Blommath.
|Month number||Name||Approximate relationship to Gregorian calendar|
|2 Yule||22nd of December|
|1||Afteryule||23rd of December to the 21st of January|
|2||Solmath||22nd of January to the 20th of February|
|3||Rethe||21st of February to the 22nd of March|
|4||Astron||23rd of March to 21st of April|
|5||Thrimidge||22nd of April to the 21st of May|
|6||Forelithe||22nd of May to the 20th of June|
|1 Lithe||21st of June|
|Midyear's Day||22nd of June|
|2 Lithe||23rd of June|
|7||Afterlithe||24th of June to the 23rd of July|
|8||Wedmath||24th of July to the 22nd of August|
|9||Halimath||23rd of August to the 21st of September|
|10||Winterfilth||22nd of September to 21st of October|
|11||Blotmath||22nd of October to the 20th of November|
|12||Foreyule||21st of November to the 20th of December|
|1 Yule||21st of December|
The Yuledays were the days that mark the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one, so 2 Yule was the first day of the year. The Lithedays are the three days in the middle of the year, 1 Lithe, Mid-year's Day, and 2 Lithe. In leap years (every fourth year except centennial years) a day was added after Mid-year's Day called Overlithe. All these days were placed outside of any month. These days were primarily holidays and feast days. Mid-year's Day is meant to correspond to the summer solstice, being 10 days earlier than the middle day of our year. However, since then the summer solstice has shifted slightly so it falls on a different date now, rendering the difference between Mid-year's Day and the middle day of our year eleven days, instead of ten.
Days of the week
The seven weekdays of the Shire Calendar (at the time of the War of the Ring) were Sterday, Sunday, Monday, Trewsday, Hevensday (or Hensday), Mersday, and Highday. The last day of the week, Highday, was the chief day, a post-noon holiday and time for evening feasts.
The Mid-year's Day and, when present, Overlithe had no weekday assignments. This arrangement was used because it caused every day to have the same weekday designation from year to year (instead of changing as in the Gregorian calendar).
|Day Name||Meaning||Translation in The Lord of the Rings||Relationship to Gregorian calendar|
|Sterday||Stars of Varda||Saturday||Monday|
|Trewsday||Two Trees of Valinor||Tuesday||Thursday|
Highday was a holiday with evening feasts.
It is highly based on the Germanic calendar.
Also, all days (except in Bilbo's Song) are translated according to the meaning of Sunday and Monday rather than according to position in the Gregorian calendar.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, "The Shire Calendar"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, "The Calendars"
- The Shire-reckoning website, dedicated to detailed analysis of the Hobbit Calendar.