Worm’s Norwegian runic calendar described in his book Fasti Danici dating back to 1643. The drawing only shows the winter season lasting from 14 October to 13 April. The summer season on the other side of the bone from a whale or big fish was never copied, and both the pendant and the calendar have unfortunately been lost.
Although contemporary Scandinavian sources for the Viking Age are few, there are indications that the Vikings probably divided the year into moon phases and only two seasons: Summer and winter.
The Vikings did not use exact years to date events, a so-called absolute chronology. Instead, they used a relative chronology with reference to the number of years after important events. One could for example date the year by saying “five winters after the Battle of Svolder”.
As far as we know, the Icelander Ari “the Wise” Þorgilsson was the first who in the early 1100s tried to convert the Norse time entries into an absolute European chronology.
The Viking calendar reflected the seasons: How high the sun was in the sky, access to food and fertility. The year was divided into two equally long periods – summer and winter. A person’s age was counted in the number of winters he had lived. This may indicate that “New Year” was on 14 April, i.e. the first day of summer.
The year was divided into moon phases – from new moon to new moon or full moon to full moon. The counting of days has probably not been particularly accurate: The Scandinavia nights are so bright that it is almost impossible to spot the moon.
The darkest period was named “Skammdegí” (the Dark Days) and the year’s brightest period “Nóttleysa”, meaning “insomnia” that many Scandinavians still experience today.
The winter months are Gormánuður, Ýlir, Mörsugur, Þorri, Goa and Einmánuður.
The summer months are Harpa, Skerpla, Sólmánuður, Heyannir, Tvímánuður and Haustmánuður.
The calendar shows the division of the year in the Old Icelandic calendar in relation to the Gregorian calendar that we use today. (Illustration by Arild-Hauge.com)
Some years it may look as if it has been an additional 13th month to adjust the calendar: Silðemanuður (the Late Month).
Calendar with comments:
|Norse Season||Norse Month (English)||Time period||Norse Month (Icelandic)||Comments|
|Winter||Slaughter Month||14. October – 13. November||Gormánuður|
|Winter||Ýlir/Jólnir: One of Odin’s, the “Allfather’s” names||14. November – 13. December||Ýlir||Christmas month|
|Winter||Bone Marrow Sucking||14. December – 12. January||Mörsugur||”Mör”: Bone marrow or fat. Important to survive Scandinavian winters.|
|Winter||Black Frost||13. January – 11. February||Þorri||Norse mythical winter figure, son of “Snow”. Also men’s month|
|Winter||Daughter of Þorri||12. February – 13. March||Gói, góa, gjø||Women’s month|
|Winter||One-Month||14. March – 13. April||Einmánuður||Men’s month|
|Summer||Cockoo’s Month/ Unknown mythical figure||14. April – 13. May||Gaukmánuður/ Harpa||Women’s month|
|Summer||Unknown woman mythical figure’s name||14. May – 12. June||Skerpla|
|Summer||Sun’s Month||13. June – 12. July||Sólmánuður|
|Summer||Haymaking Month/ Worm’s month||13. July – 14. August||Heyannir/ Ormamánuður|
|Summer||Two-Months/ Corn Cutting Month||15. August – 14. September||Tvímánuður/ Kornskurðarmánuður|
|Summer||Autumn Month||15. September – 13. October||Haustmánuður|
|?||Late Month||Silðimánuður||The 13th month|
(Research and interpretation by Arild Hauge in cooperation with Jón Julius Filippusson, English interpretation by ThorNews)
Some of the Viking Age weekdays is still in use. Does “Thursday”, literally Thor’s Day, sound familiar? Another example is the German word for Thursday, Donnerstag (Day of Thunder) – pointing back to Thor, the God of Thunder.
|Týsdagr||Tuesday||Tyr’s Day (War God)|
|Þórsdagr||Thursday||Thor’s Day (God of Thunder)|
|Frjádagr||Friday||Freya’s or Frigg’s Day (Norse Goddesses)|
Text by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews