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The Gaelic calendar (also known as the Irish calendar) is a pre-Christian Celtic system of timekeeping used during Ireland's Gaelic era and still in popular use today to define the beginning and length of the day, the week, the month, the seasons, quarter days, and festivals. The Gaelic calendar does not observe the astronomical seasons that begin in the Northern Hemisphere on the equinoxes and solstices, or the meteorological seasons that begin on March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1. Rather, the middle of the seasons in the Gaelic calendar fall around the solstices and equinoxes. As a result, for example, midsummer falls on the summer solstice. The beginnings of the seasons are roughly the halfway points between solstice and equinox: The Celtic year began on 1 November.
- Winter - November, December, January. (Mí na Samhna, Mí na Nollag, Eanáir)
- Spring - February, March, April. (Feabhra, Márta, Aibreán)
- Summer - May, June, July. (Bealtaine, Meitheamh, Iúil)
- Autumn - August, September, October. (Lúnasa, Meán Fómhair, Deireadh Fómhair)
- An t-Samhain November
- An Dùbhlachd December
- Am Faoilleach January
- An Gearran February
- Am Màrt March
- An Giblean April
- An Cèitean May
- An t-Og Mhios June
- An t-Iuchar July
- An Lunastal August
- An t-Sultain September
This is a continuation of the Celtic and Gaelic system, which is pagan in origin. This is particularly evident in the Irish (Gaeilge) names for May (Bealtaine), August (Lúnasa) and November (Samhain), which were the names of Gaelic pagan festivals. In addition, the names for September (Meán Fómhair) and October (Deireadh Fómhair) translate directly as "middle of autumn" and "end of autumn". Christianity has also left its mark on the Irish months: the name for December (Nollaig) derives from Latin natalicia (birthday), referring to the birth of Christ.
Historical texts suggest that, during Ireland's Gaelic era, the day began and ended at sunset. Through contact with the Romans, the seven-day week was borrowed by continental Celts, and then spread to the peoples of Britain and Ireland. In Irish, four days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday) have names derived from Latin; Dé Luain< Latin:Dies Lunae (Moon Day); Dé Máirt< Latin: Dies Martis (Mars's Day); Dé Sathairn< Latin: Dies Saturni (Saturn's Day) . The other three relate to the fasting done by Catholic clergy.
- See Nora Chadwick, The Celts (1970) p.181
- Koch, John T. Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO (2006). Page 330.
- Koch, John T. Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO (2006). Page 331.