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The Germanic calendars were the regional calendars used amongst the early Germanic peoples, prior to the adoption of the Julian calendar in the Early Middle Ages.
The Germanic peoples had names for the months which varied by region and dialect, which were later replaced with local adaptations of the Roman month names. Records of Old English and Old High German month names date to the 8th and 9th centuries, respectively. Old Norse month names are attested from the 13th century. Like most pre-modern calendars, the reckoning used in early Germanic culture was likely lunisolar. As an example, the Runic calendar developed in medieval Sweden is lunisolar, fixing the beginning of the year at the first full moon after winter solstice.
As in all ancient calendars, the Germanic calendar before the adoption of the Julian one would have been lunisolar, the months corresponding to lunations. Tacitus in his Germania (ch. 11) writes that the Germanic peoples observed the lunar months.
The lunisolar calendar is reflected in the Germanic term *mēnōþ- "month" (Old English mōnaþ, Old Saxon mānuth, Old Norse mánaðr, and Old High German mānod, Gothic mēnōþs, ) being a derivation of the word for "moon", mēnô.
Tacitus gives some indication of how the Germanic peoples of the first century reckoned the days. In contrast to Roman usage, they considered the day to begin at sunset, a system that in the Middle Ages came to be known as the "Florentine reckoning". The same system is also recorded for the Gauls in Caesar's Gallic Wars.
The concept of the week, on the other hand, was adopted from the Romans, from about the first century, the various Germanic languages having adopted the Greco-Roman system of naming of the days of the week after the classical planets, inserting loan translations for the names of the planets, substituting the names of Germanic gods in a process known as interpretatio germanica.
The month names do not coincide, thus it is not possible to postulate names of a Common Germanic stage, except possibly the name of a spring and a winter month, *austr- and *jehul-. The names of the seasons are also Common Germanic, *sumaraz, *harbistaz, *wintruz, and *wēr- for "spring" in north Germanic, but in west Germanic the term *langatīnaz was used. The Common Germanic terms for day, month and year were *dagaz, *mēnōþs (moon) and *jērą. The latter two continue Proto-Indo-European *me(n)ses-, *iero- while *dagaz is a Germanic innovation from a root meaning "to be hot, to burn".
A number of terms for measuring time can be reconstructed for the proto Germanic period.
The main source of reference for Old English month names comes from the Venerable Bede. He recorded the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon month names in his Latin work known as De temporum ratione (De mensibus Anglorum), written in 725. This is the only testimony of a Germanic lunisolar system, with explicit mention of empirical intercalation, the intercalary month being inserted around midsummer.
Charlemagne (r. 768–814) recorded agricultural Old High German names for the Julian months. These remained in use, with regional variants and innovations, until the end of the medieval period in German-speaking Europe and they persisted in popular or dialectal use into the 19th century. They probably also influenced Fabre d'Eglantine when he named the months of the French Republican Calendar.
The only agreement between the Old English and the Old High German (Carolingian) month names is the naming of May as "Easter month". Both traditions have a "holy month", the name of September in the Old English system and of December in the Old High German one.
A separate tradition of month names developed in 10th-century Iceland, see below.
The Old High German month names introduced by Charlemagne persisted in regional usage and survive in German dialectal usage. The Latin month names have been in predominant use throughout the medieval period, although the Summarium Heinrici, an 11th-century pedagogical compendium, in chapter II.15 De temporibus et mensibus et annis advocates use of the German month names rather than the more widespread Latin ones.
In the late medieval to early modern period, dialectal or regional month names were adopted for the use in almanachs, and a number of variants or innovations developed in this context, comparable to the tradition of "Indian month names" which developed in American Farmers' Almanacs in the early 20th century.
Some of the Farmers' Almanacs' "Indian month names" are in fact derived from continental tradition.
The Old English month names fell out of use entirely, being revived only in a fictional context in the Shire calendar constructed by J. R. R. Tolkien for use in his The Lord of the Rings.
A special case is the Icelandic calendar developed in the 10th century, which inspired by the Julian calendar introduced a purely solar reckoning, with a year having a fixed number of weeks (52 weeks or 364 days). This necessitated the introduction of "leap weeks" instead of the Julian leap days.
The old Icelandic calendar is not in official use any more, but some Icelandic holidays and annual feasts are still calculated from it. It has 12 months, broken down into two groups of six often termed "winter months" and "summer months". The calendar is peculiar in that the months always start on the same day of week rather than on the same date. Hence Þorri always started on a Friday sometime between 9 and 15 January of the Julian calendar, Góa always starts on a Sunday between 8 and 14 February of the Julian calendar.
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