I made a calendar for Erylia pretty much back when I started working on it. It’s not very good and I never really did anything with it once I had the base started. I decided that it is time to start working on it. Not only because I want to start thinking up holidays and festivals (and the week of excuses), but the cycle of time should be important to the story as well.
In its very first version, the months weren’t even really arranged. I decided to name the different months after the gods, but didn’t bother to make it make sense. I just went down the list and asked “does this sound like it could be a month?” And that was all the effort put into it. I never thought much of it, not until I wanted to start working on things like holidays and yearly events.
The Erylian calendar does require some suspension of disbelief. I’m not someone who is knowledgeable in things like moon cycles or distances for celestial bodies and took some liberties in those regards. A year in Erylia takes 360 days. Why? Because it makes it so that each day is equivalent to 1 degree around the sun. This is also close to our year on Earth, so it allows me to stick to a 24 hour day without it being too strange. I didn’t want things to be too uniform, so like with our months on Earth, I put in some variation for the days in a month. In the first version of the calendar, each month had 29, 30, or 31 days in it, and they cycled. 29 days, then 30 days, then 31 days, then 30 days, then 29 days, and repeat for the year. This pattern has now been shaken up a bit.
The Original Calendar Set Up
So my first order of business with getting the calendar sorted out was to rearrange things to make sense. The seasons in Erylia go in the order of Spring – Summer – Fall – Winter. I went with this order to kind of represent a “life cycle” for the year. The year could also be thought of as Birth – Growth – Aging – Death.
In the original creation of the calendar, Belenus, a month named after a God associated with the sun, ended up in the middle of the fall. Arawn, a month named for the God of life and death, was the third month in the year. Since I needed to move these months thematically anyways, I moved a few more around so they fit closer in my head to the time of year for the God. Though it hasn’t been added to the file for the calendar yet, I’ve chose that each month starts with the new moon. I went with this because I felt it would be an easy way to measure in a lower technology fantasy setting. The month starts when the moon is empty, and moves forward as the moon fills in, then empties again, signaling the start of a new month.
The New(er) Calendar
Breaking Down The Months
The year starts in the month of Daghdha. I chose Daghdha as the first month mostly due to him being the king of the Erylian Pantheon, the head of the calendar. The second month of the year is Brigantia. Brigantia, goddess of rivers and livestock felt fitting for the middle of spring, a time where farmers and getting their crops planted and herds in order. Rounding off the spring months and leading into summer is the month of Silvanus. The month where flowers are coming into bloom, trees are filling in, and everything is getting ready for summer.
As with our world, many people will travel through the summer, where the weather is its nicest. The month of Lugh signifies a start to this travel and vacationing, and an increased spending of coin. Belenus, named for the God of Light, warmth and the sun, is the middle of summer. The time of the year where the weather is warmest, the sun is its brightest. The month of Manannan closes off summer, a month named for the God of the sea. Since boating and sailing is most common in the summer, I felt that it made sense to have Manannan be part of summer as well.
There were some interesting narrative choices taken with fall. Probably the most notable is Nuada, the first month of fall. The fall has shown to be a time where, if a war is going to start, troops begin to march. Also, as summer has ended, it is the time that soldiers get back to harder training, usually having spent the summer with their families. Dunatis being the middle of fall was mostly chosen because thinking about the mountains gives me a sense of fall. Like when I think of going on a hike in the mountains, I usually picture it in a fall setting instead of spring or summer. Oghma rounds out the transition from fall to winter as a time where people begin making preparations for winter. Before snow comes in, people make sure to get their probably final letters written and sent out to family. Merchants make sure their books are squared away before their slow season.
Following on the back of Oghma, a month of writing, is the month of Mathonwy, a month of magical study. As the weather gets cold and wizards hole themselves up for the winter, they pour over their research and their studies, spending the season working on their spell books. Though war has been fought at other times of the year, the dead of winter has taken the name Morrigan, after the goddess of battle. The year ends with Arawn, named for the God of life and death. As one year dies, with winter, a new one shall be born again with the next spring.