Calendopaedia - The Old English Calendar

Very little is known of the Old English calendar as used in Britain after the Roman occupation but before the coming of Christianity.

The Old English calendar had twelve months and the year started with the winter solstice. This festival was known as Geola from which we get the modern word Yule. The summer solstice was known as Liþa whose meaning is unclear.

The months were named as follows :-

1Æfterra GeolaAfter Yule
2SolmonaðSun Month
3HreþmonaðNamed after the divinity Hrepe
4EastermonaðNamed after the divinity Eostre
The likely source of the name for Easter
5ÐrimilcemonaðCow milking month
Cows were milked three times daily at this time of year
6Ærra LiþaBefore Liþa
7Æfterra LiþaAfter Liþa
8WeodmonaðWeed month
This could be a reference to the growth of vegetation
9HaligmonaðHoly month
Probably a reference to harvest thanksgiving
10WinterfylleðWinter month
The first full moon of winter
11BlotmonaðSacrifice month
When animals who could not survive the winter would be slaughtered
12Ærra GeolaBefore Yule

The days of the week were named as follows :-

Old English
SundaySunnandægThe day of the Sun
MondayMonandægThe day of the Moon
TuesdayTiwesdægThe day of Tiw
The Norse God Tyr
WednesdayWodnesdægThe day of Woden
The Norse God Odinn
ThursdayÞunresdægThe day of Thunor
The Norse God Thor
FridayFrigedægThe day of Frige, or love
SaturdaySæterndægThe day of Saturn

The day was considered to start at sunset and run until the next sunset. This led the Anglo Saxons to refer to a length of time as 'so many nights' rather than 'so many days' which is why a period of two weeks is known as a fortnight in Britain to this day.

This calendar was later replaced by the Julian Calendar but I have been unable to obtain a date for this change-over.

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