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Zulu calendar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Zulu calendar is the traditional lunisolar calendar used by the Zulu people of South Africa.[1] Its new year begins at the new moon of uMandulo(September) in the Gregorian calendar.

The Zulu calendar is divided into two seasons, the summer iHlobo and Winter ubuSika.[2] The lunar seasonal calendar has 13 months[3] that do not correspond to the months of the Gregorian calendar.[4]

Twelve of the lunar months (inyanga) of the Zulu calendar have around 28 days.[5][6] Zulu names for the lunar months are based on observations of nature and seasonal activities.[7] A 13th intercalary month (iNdida) lasts four to five days.

According to Keith Snedegar, consensus was used to settle arguments over the correct month, which arose around every three years when the 12 lunar months failed to correspond to their natural markers. The extra month was sometimes referred to as Ndid'amDoda (the month that puzzles men). Scottish Free Kirk missionary James Macdonald wrote that the confusion was settled with heliacal rising of Pleiades, which is associated with the month of uNhlangulana.[8]

Months (Izinyanga Zonyaka)extra notes in zulu language[edit]

Month Zulu name extra notes
January uMasingana
(let us search)
May refer to searching for ripening crops or even pumpkins
February uNhlolanja
(inspecting dogs)
This is when dogs begin mating, and owners inspect which dogs are gestating.
March uNdasa
This is when food is more abundant.
April uMbasa
(sweeping the threshing grounds)
This is when cattle are satiated, lying down in the ground and appearing sick.
May uNhlaba
(aloe plant)
This is when the aloe plants start to bloom.
June uNhlangulana
This is when winds blow leaves off trees and the ground.
July uNtulikazi/uMaquba
(with dusts)
This is the month when the winds blow up dust.
August uNcwaba
New grass after veld-burning
September uMandulo
Start of the farming season. Formerly known as uMpandu, but its name was changed to uMandulo out of respect for King Mpande.
October uMfumfu
(Krossland Ndiweni)
May refer to the blooming of flowers, or the growth of maize and sorghum.
November uLwezi
(a species of froghopper)
This is because of the influx of insects that feast on spring leaves
December uZibandlela
(ignore the path)
May refer to grass growing over the roads and confusing travelers.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Zulu Calendar". Afropedea. Archived from the original on 14 June 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  2. ^ Dubow, Saul (5 December 2016). The Rise and Fall of Modern Empires, Volume II: Colonial Knowledges. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-88273-6.
  3. ^ Mack, John (1981). Zulus. Morristown, N.J.: Silver Burdett. p. 46. ISBN 9780382063602.
  4. ^ Koopman, Adrian (2002). Zulu names. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal. p. 249. ISBN 9781869140038.
  5. ^ Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe (1997). A Modern Economic History of Africa: The nineteenth century. East African Publishers. p. 165. ISBN 978-9966-46-025-7.
  6. ^ Hovland, Ingie (8 August 2013). Mission Station Christianity: Norwegian Missionaries in Colonial Natal and Zululand, Southern Africa 1850-1890. BRILL. p. 41. ISBN 978-90-04-25740-5.
  7. ^ Coan, Stephen (28 November 2011). "Things ain't what they used to be: Zulu calendar inaccurate thanks to climate change?". The Witness.
  8. ^ Bennett, Bruce S (3 December 2018). "Intercalation in the Traditional Setswana Calendar". Botswana Notes and Records. 50: 25–26.
  9. ^ "Zulu Cultural Festivals – Events Zululand 2019". ZululandNews. Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 14 November 2020.