Iranian calendars

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For the official calendar in Iran and Afghanistan, see Solar Hijri calendar

The Iranian calendars (Persian: گاه‌شماری ایرانیGâhshomâriye Irâni) are a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Iran (Persia). One of the longest chronological records in human history, the Iranian calendar has been modified time and again during its history to suit administrative, climatic, and religious purposes.

The modern Iranian calendar is now the official calendar in Iran and Afghanistan. It begins on the vernal equinox as determined by astronomical calculations for the Iran Standard Time meridian (52.5°E or GMT+3.5h). This determination of starting moment is more accurate[citation needed] than the Gregorian calendar as far as predicting the date of the vernal equinox is concerned. Its years are designated AP, short for Anno Persico. The Iranian year usually begins within a day of 21 March of the Gregorian calendar. To find the corresponding year of the Gregorian calendar, add 621 or 622 (depending on the time of the year) to a Solar year. A short table of year correspondences between the Persian and Gregorian calendars is provided below.

It should be noted that the "International Calendar," the Gregorian Calendar, was adopted from the calculations of Pope Gregory XIII in the sixteenth century. Great Britain and the United States at that time were using the Julian or Annunciation calendar which differed by a little more than a year. The Gregorian Calendar was adopted based on the religious event of the birth of Jesus--thus "B.C." for Before Christ and A.D. for Anno Domini or "Year of our Lord." The current Jewish Calendar dates from the Judeao-Christian story of creation and subsequent biblical events. An innacuracy in the Gregorian dating stems from the astronomical events surrounding the story of the birth of Jesus pointing to a date in April of 4 B.C..

History[edit]

Ancient calendars[edit]

See also: Royal stars

Although the earliest evidence of Iranian calendrical traditions is from the second millennium BCE, predating the appearance of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster, the first fully preserved calendar is that of the Achaemenids. Throughout recorded history, Persians have been keen on the idea and importance of having a calendar. They were among the first cultures to use a solar calendar and have long favoured a solar over lunar and lunisolar approaches. The sun has always been a symbol in Iranian culture and is closely related to the folklore regarding Cyrus the Great.[1]

Old Persian calendar[edit]

Old Persian inscriptions and tablets indicate that early Iranians used a 360-day calendar based on the solar observation directly and modified for their beliefs. Days were not named. The months had two or three divisions depending on the phase of the moon. Twelve months of 30 days were named for festivals or activities of the pastoral year. A 13th month was added every six years to keep the calendar synchronized with the seasons.

The following table lists the Old Persian months.[2]

Order Corresponding Julian months Old Persian Elamite spelling Meaning Corresponding Babylonian month
1 March–April Ādukanaiša Hadukannaš uncertain Nīsannu
2 April–May Θūravāhara Turmar Possibly "(Month of) strong spring" Ayyāru
3 May–June Θāigraciš Sākurriziš "Garlic-collecting month" Sīmannu
4 June–July Garmapada Karmabataš "Heat-station (month)" Du'ūzu
5 July–August Turnabaziš Ābu
6 August–September Karbašiyaš Ulūlū
7 September–October Bāgayādiš Bakeyatiš "(Month) of the worship of baga (god, perhaps Mithra)" Tašrītu
8 October–November *Vrkazana Markašanaš "(Month) of wolf killing" Arahsamna
9 November–December Āçiyādiya Hašiyatiš "(Month) of the worship of the fire" Kisilīmu
10 December–January Anāmaka Hanamakaš "Month of the nameless god(?)" Tebētu
11 January–February *Θwayauvā Samiyamaš "The terrible one" Šabāţu
12 February–March Viyax(a)na Miyakannaš "Digging-up (month)" Addāru

Zoroastrian calendar[edit]

Main article: Zoroastrian calendar

The first calendars based on Zoroastrian cosmology appeared in the later Achaemenid period (650 to 330 BCE). They evolved over the centuries, but month names changed little until now.

The unified Achaemenid empire required a distinctive Iranian calendar, and one was devised in Egyptian tradition, with 12 months of 30 days, each dedicated to a yazata (Eyzad), and four divisions resembling the Semitic week. Four days per month were dedicated to Ahura Mazda and seven were named after the six Amesha Spentas. Thirteen days were named after Fire, Water, Sun, Moon, Tiri and Geush Urvan (the soul of all animals), Mithra, Sraosha (Soroush, yazata of prayer), Rashnu (the Judge), Fravashi, Bahram (yazata of victory), Raman (Ramesh meaning peace), and Vata, the divinity of the wind. Three were dedicated to the female divinities, Daena (yazata of religion and personified conscious), Ashi (yazata of fortune) and Arshtat (justice). The remaining four were dedicated to Asman (lord of sky or Heaven), Zam (earth), Manthra Spenta (the Bounteous Sacred Word) and Anaghra Raocha (the 'Endless Light' of paradise).

The month names and their modern versions are given in the following table.

Order Avestan name of the Yazata (in the genitive) Approximate meaning of the name Pahlavi Middle Persian Modern Iranian Persian
Romanized English Romanized Native Script Romanized
1 Fravašinąm (Guardian spirits, souls of the righteous) Frawardīn فروردین Farvardīn
2 Ašahe Vahištahe "Best Truth" / "Best Righteousness" Ardwahišt اردیبهشت Ordībehešt
3 Haurvatātō "Wholeness" / "Perfection" Xordād خرداد Xordād
4 Tištryehe "Sirius" Tīr تیر Tīr
5 Amərətātō "Immortality" Amurdād مرداد Mordād
6 Xšaθrahe Vairyehe "Desirable Dominion" Šahrewar شهریور Šahrīvar
7 Miθrahe "Covenant" Mihr مهر Mehr
8 Apąm "Waters" Ābān آبان Ābān
9 Āθrō "Fire" Ādur آذر Āzar
10 Daθušō "The Creator" (i.e. Ahura Mazda) Day دی Dey
11 Vaŋhə̄uš Manaŋhō "Good Mind" Wahman بهمن Bahman
12 Spəntayā̊ Ārmatōiš "Holy Devotion" Spandarmad اسفند Esfand

The calendar had a significant impact on religious observance. It fixed the pantheon of major divinities, and also ensured that their names were uttered often, since at every Zoroastrian act of worship the yazatas of both day and month were invoked. It also clarified the pattern of festivities; for example, Mitrakanna or Mehregan was celebrated on Mithra day of Mithra month, and the Tiri festival (Tiragan) was celebrated on Tiri day of the Tiri month.

After the conquests by Alexander of Macedon and his death, the Persian territories fell to one of his generals, Seleucus (312 BCE), starting the Seleucid dynasty of Iran. Based on the Greek tradition, Seleucids introduced the practice of dating by era rather than by the reign of individual kings. Their era became known as that of Alexander, or later the Seleucid era. Since the new rulers were not Zoroastrians, Zoroastrian priests lost their function at the royal courts, and so resented the Seleucids. Although they began dating by eras, they established their own era of Zoroaster.

That was the first serious attempt to determine the dates associated with the prophet Zoroaster's life. Priests had no Zoroastrian historical sources, and so turned to Babylonian archives famous in the ancient world. From these they learned that a great event in Persian history took place 228 years before the era of Alexander. In fact, this was the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE. But the priests misinterpreted this date to be the time the "true faith" was revealed to their prophet, and since Avestan literature indicates that revelation happened when Zoroaster was 30 years old, 568 BCE was taken as his year of birth. The date entered written records as the beginning of the era of Zoroaster, and indeed, the Persian Empire. This incorrect date is still mentioned in many current encyclopedias as Zoroaster's birth date.

Modifications by Parthians, Ardashir I, Hormizd I, Yazdgerd III[edit]

The Parthians (Arsacid dynasty) adopted the same calendar system with minor modifications, and dated their era from 248 BCE, the date they succeeded the Seleucids. Their names for the months and days are Parthian equivalents of the Avestan ones used previously, differing slightly from the Middle Persian names used by the Sassanians. For example in Achaemenid times the modern Persian month 'Day' was called Dadvah (Creator), in Parthian it was Datush and the Sassanians named it Dadv/Dai (Dadar in Pahlavi).

In 224 CE, Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanid dynasty, added five days at the end of the year, and named them 'Gatha' or 'Gah' days after the ancient Zoroastrian hymns of the same name. This was a modification of the 365-day calendar adopted by Julius Caesar in 46 BCE, based on the Egyptian solar calendar. Iranians had known about the Egyptian system for centuries but never used it. The new system created confusion and met resistance. Many rites were practised over many days to make sure no holy days were missed. To this day many Zoroastrian feasts have two dates.

To simplify the situation, Ardeshir's grandson, Hormizd I, linked the new and old holy days into continual six-day feasts. Nowruz was an exception, as the first and the sixth day of the month were celebrated separately, and the sixth became more significant as Zoroaster's birthday. But the reform did not solve all the problems, and Yazdgerd III, the last ruler, introduced the final changes. The year 632 was chosen as the beginning of a new era, and this last imperial Persian calendar is known as the Yazdgerdi calendar.

Medieval era: Jalali calendar[edit]

Main article: Jalali calendar

Modern calendar: Solar Hijri (SH)[edit]

Correspondence of Solar Hijri and Gregorian calendars (Solar Hijri leap years are marked *)[3]

33-year
cycle[4]
Solar Hijri year Gregorian year Solar Hijri year Gregorian year
1 1354* 21 March 1975 – 20 March 1976 1387* 20 March 2008 – 20 March 2009
2 1355 21 March 1976 – 20 March 1977 1388 21 March 2009 – 20 March 2010
3 1356 21 March 1977 – 20 March 1978 1389 21 March 2010 – 20 March 2011
4 1357 21 March 1978 – 20 March 1979 1390 21 March 2011 – 19 March 2012
5 1358* 21 March 1979 – 20 March 1980 1391* 20 March 2012 – 20 March 2013
6 1359 21 March 1980 – 20 March 1981 1392 21 March 2013 – 20 March 2014
7 1360 21 March 1981 – 20 March 1982 1393 21 March 2014 – 20 March 2015
8 1361 21 March 1982 – 20 March 1983 1394 21 March 2015 – 19 March 2016
9 1362* 21 March 1983 – 20 March 1984 1395* 20 March 2016 – 20 March 2017
10 1363 21 March 1984 – 20 March 1985 1396 21 March 2017 – 20 March 2018
11 1364 21 March 1985 – 20 March 1986 1397 21 March 2018 – 20 March 2019
12 1365 21 March 1986 – 20 March 1987 1398 21 March 2019 – 19 March 2020
13 1366* 21 March 1987 – 20 March 1988 1399* 20 March 2020 – 20 March 2021
14 1367 21 March 1988 – 20 March 1989 1400 21 March 2021 – 20 March 2022
15 1368 21 March 1989 – 20 March 1990 1401 21 March 2022 – 20 March 2023
16 1369 21 March 1990 – 20 March 1991 1402 21 March 2023 – 19 March 2024
17 1370* 21 March 1991 – 20 March 1992 1403* 20 March 2024 – 20 March 2025
18 1371 21 March 1992 – 20 March 1993 1404 21 March 2025 – 20 March 2026
19 1372 21 March 1993 – 20 March 1994 1405 21 March 2026 – 20 March 2027
20 1373 21 March 1994 – 20 March 1995 1406 21 March 2027 – 19 March 2028
21 1374 21 March 1995 – 19 March 1996 1407 20 March 2028 – 19 March 2029
22 1375* 20 March 1996 – 20 March 1997 1408* 20 March 2029 – 20 March 2030
23 1376 21 March 1997 – 20 March 1998 1409 21 March 2030 – 20 March 2031
24 1377 21 March 1998 – 20 March 1999 1410 21 March 2031 – 19 March 2032
25 1378 21 March 1999 – 19 March 2000 1411 20 March 2032 – 19 March 2033
26 1379* 20 March 2000 – 20 March 2001 1412* 20 March 2033 – 20 March 2034
27 1380 21 March 2001 – 20 March 2002 1413 21 March 2034 – 20 March 2035
28 1381 21 March 2002 – 20 March 2003 1414 21 March 2035 – 19 March 2036
29 1382 21 March 2003 – 19 March 2004 1415 20 March 2036 – 19 March 2037
30 1383* 20 March 2004 – 20 March 2005 1416* 20 March 2037 – 20 March 2038
31 1384 21 March 2005 – 20 March 2006 1417 21 March 2038 – 20 March 2039
32 1385 21 March 2006 – 20 March 2007 1418 21 March 2039 – 19 March 2040
33 1386 21 March 2007 – 19 March 2008 1419 20 March 2040 – 19 March 2041

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ (Panaino 1990)
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica. Article "Calendars". By Antonio Panaino, Reza Abdollahy, Daniel Balland.
  3. ^ Holger Oertel (30 May 2009). "Persian calendar by Holger Oertel". Ortelius.de. Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  4. ^ The Persian calendar for 3000 years, (Kazimierz M Borkowski), Earth, Moon and Planets, 74 (1996), No. 3, pp 223–230. Available at [1].

Bibliography[edit]

  • Panaino, Antonio (1990). "CALENDARS, i. Pre-Islamic calendars". Encyclopaedia Iranica 4. ISBN 0-7100-9132-X. 
  • Taqîzâda, Sayyid Ḥasan, Gâhshumârî dar Îrân-i qadîm, Tehran (Čapkhâna-yi Majlis) 1316/1937-1938, (reprinted with the author's notes appointed to the first edition in the 10th vol. of the Opera omnia, ed.by Î. Afshâr, Tehran, 1357/1978-79). Complete Italian ed.: H. Taqizadeh, Il computo del tempo nell'Iran antico, ed. and transl. by S. Cristoforetti, Roma (ISIAO), 2010. ISBN 978-88-6323-290-5

External links[edit]

Online calendars and converters
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