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Shire Calendar

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The Shire Calendar was used by the Hobbits of the Shire. It was different from that used by the Men, Dwarves and Elves. Use of this calendar in Middle-earth is referred to as Shire-reckoning.

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.[1]

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.

In the Eastfarthing the names of Afteryule, Astron, and Foreyule, were Frery, Chithing, and Yulemath, respectively. These correspond for the names used in Bree for those months.[2]

Month numberNameApproximate relationship to Gregorian calendar
 2 Yule22nd of December
1Afteryule23rd of December to the 21st of January
2Solmath22nd of January to the 20th of February
3Rethe21st of February to the 22nd of March
4Astron23rd of March to 21st of April
5Thrimidge22nd of April to the 21st of May
6Forelithe22nd of May to the 20th of June
 1 Lithe21st of June
 Midyear's Day22nd of June
 OverlitheLeap day
 2 Lithe23rd of June
7Afterlithe24th of June to the 23rd of July
8Wedmath24th of July to the 22nd of August
9Halimath23rd of August to the 21st of September
10Winterfilth22nd of September to 21st of October
11Blotmath22nd of October to the 20th of November
12Foreyule21st of November to the 20th of December
 1 Yule21st 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 NameMeaningTranslation in The Lord of the RingsRelationship to Gregorian calendar
SterdayStars of VardaSaturdayMonday
TrewsdayTwo Trees of ValinorTuesdayThursday

Highday was a holiday with evening feasts.


It is highly based on the Germanic calendar.

In The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the names of months and days are given in modern equivalents. For instance, Afteryule is called January and Sterday is called Saturday.

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.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, "The Calendars"

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