View Full Version : The Old Norse/Viking Months and Calendar

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005, 01:40 PM
22 December-20 January
21 January - 19 February
20 February - 20 March
21 March - 19 April
20 April - 19 May
20 May - 18 June
19 June - 22 July
23 July - 21 August
22 August -20 September
21 September - 20 October
21 October - 19 November
20 November - 19 December

Runic Calendar, Runstaf, 1661

Although this wooden calendar was carved in the seventeenth century, the runic letters that make up the text are an ancient script. Runes are a Germanic alphabet that emerged in the third century and prevailed unaltered until the thirteenth century in Northern Europe and Iceland. Long past that period, the runic alphabet was used on monuments and tombstones. There is not information as to the origin of this particular piece, but it is similar to the type of Runstaf produced in Dalarne, Sweden. Runic letters are generally angular and are particularly suited for inscription on wood, where the natural grain of the medium makes curved lines difficult.



Wednesday, July 6th, 2005, 11:11 AM
abstracted from the writings of H. J. Carol Thompson

For many centuries, Pagan and Christian calendars were probably used side by side. Back in 1689, a physician and antiquary named Olaf Rudbeck met a man in a market-place at Uppsala who had a runestock that showed when the January (Disting) full moon fell each year. The man told Rudbeck that it was the beginning of Aun, a new calendar cycle. Aun was a mythical Swedish king renowned to live for 300 years and during his lifetime the moon would take a day's journey backwards.

The owner of the runestock told Rudbeck that this Aun cycle was happening because every 300 years the calendar required a one day correction when the moon cycles and the solar cycles eventually did not match up. The correction could be made by adding one extra day at the end of the cycle. This exact calibration was usually done by observing the heavens carefully to determine the first full moon closest to the Winter Solstice. The owner of the calendar stave noticed that the Disting (see Disting below for explanation) moon fell on St. Paul's Day rather than on the 25th of January. A correction had to be made by adding a day to put the calendar back in alignment for another 300 years, thus starting a new cycle of Aun!

Because the owner of the runestock had made this observation, he was able to tell at which point on the runestock he was. He had inherited the stock from his great-grandfather not knowing where they were on the calendar till the actual Disting was aligned correctly.

The seven-day and nineteen year (The Golden Number) cycles is a system of numbers known as stave numbers, the old numerical notation of northern Europe.

Ever wonder how we got our week of seven days?

A fortnight was 14 days long and two fortnights made up the duration of a moon cycle which is approximately 28 days.

Another thing observed differently, was that the day always began on the evening (6:00 p.m./18.00) and ended the next evening (6:00 p.m./18.00).

The day was also broken down into tides since they did not keep a clock to tell time like we do today:

Old English:

4:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m./04.30-07.30 Morntide
7:30 a.m. -10:30 a.m./07.30-10.30 Daytide
10:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m./10.30-13.30 Mid Day
1:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m./13.30-16.30 Undorne
4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m./16.30-19.30 Eventide
7:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m./19.30-22.30 Nighttide
10:30p.m.-1:30 a.m./22.30-01.30 Midnight
1:30 a.m.-4:30 a.m./01.30-04.30 Uht

The Golden Number:

There is used to determine the sun-moon period of 19 years. This covers all of the phases of the moon, after which the new moons fall on the same cycle of dates as defined by the sun.

So every 19 years the very same thing happens over and over as the Earth goes around our Sun and as our Moon goes around our Earth. This is known as the Metonic Cycle, after the Greek Sage Meton, who first described it. Each year in the Metonic Cycle is give a number from 1 to 19.

This is known as the "Golden Number" or "Prime."

The Golden number is determined by a fixed simple equation. To determine the next Golden Number (the first year of a 19 year cycle) do this:

1. Take the year e.g. 1999.
2. Add one year to 1999. 1999 + 1 = 2000
3. Divide 19 into 2000. 2000 / (divided by) 19 = 105 with a remainder of 5
4. If the year 2000 was a Golden Year the answer would have been an even number without a remainder.

The recent years for the Golden Year are 1976, 1995, and upcoming is 2014.

Disting is a festival in the old runic calendar and the actual date is January 25th. This day marks the return of the vital forces that had turned inward at the time of the Winter Night back in mid-October. The local assemblies would gather for the "thing" or "ting." During this time the ground was broken up to make ready for the planting of new seed.

The "thing" took place during religious festivals when everyone came together so that the business of law and decisions could be made as well as business and festivities.

"Dis" or "Disir" means female supernatural beings or possibly Norse guardian goddesses. They were referred to as Hamignjur, lifelong guardians of humans giving warnings and advice during dreams.
In Sweden they are nine women dressed in black carrying swords and were worshipped at the beginning of winter in a ceremony known as Disablot. The nine women were merciless in exacting justice and also brought good luck.

Some sources say that Freya (mother earth, fertility goddess) was the leader of the Disir, the race of female demigods who presided over fertility in nature and humans.