Coligny calendar

The Coligny calendar is a Gaulish peg calendar or parapegma[2] made in Roman Gaul in the 2nd century, giving a five-year cycle of a lunisolar calendar with intercalary months. It is the most important evidence for the reconstruction of an ancient Celtic calendar. It is written in Latin inscriptional capitals and is in the Gaulish language. The restored tablet contains sixteen vertical columns, with 62 months distributed over five years.

It was found in 1897 in France, in Coligny, Ain (46°23′N 5°21′E / 46.383°N 5.350°E, near Lyon), along with the head of a bronze statue of a youthful male figure. It is now held at the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière. It was engraved on a bronze tablet, preserved in 73 fragments, that was originally 1.48 metres (4 ft 10 in) wide by 0.9 metres (2 ft 11 in) tall.[3] Based on the style of lettering and the accompanying objects, it probably dates to the end of the second century.[4][5]

A similar calendar found nearby at Villards d'Heria (46°25′N 5°44′E / 46.417°N 5.733°E) is preserved in only eight small fragments. It is now preserved in the Musée d'Archéologie du Jura at Lons-le-Saunier.

Overview of the re-assembled tablet
Seymour de Ricci, Le calendrier celtique de Coligny (1926)
Drawing by Seymour de Ricci (1926)[1]


The Continental Celtic calendar as reconstructed from the calendars of Coligny and Villards d'Heria was a lunisolar calendar, attempting to synchronize the solar year and the lunar month. The common lunar year contained 354 or 355 days.

The calendar year began with Samonios (samon is Gaulish for summer, Lambert p. 112). Le Contel and Verdier (1997) argue for a summer solstice start of the year. Monard (1999) argues for an autumn equinox start (by association with Irish Samhain).

The entry TRINOX[tion] SAMO[nii] SINDIV "three-nights of Samonios today") on the 17th of Samonios suggests that, like the Irish festival of Samhain, it lasted for three nights. The phrase *trinoxtion Samonii is comparable to a Gaulish festival mentioned in a 1st-century AD Latin inscription from Limoges, France, which mentions a "10 night festival (*decamnoctiacon) of (Apollo) Grannus" ( POSTVMVS DV[M]NORIGIS F(ILIVS) VERG(OBRETVS) AQVAM MARTIAM DECAMNOCTIACIS GRANNI D[E] S[VA] P[ECVNIA] D[EDIT])[6]

The solar year was approximated by the insertion of a 13th intercalary month every two and a half years. The additional months were intercalated before Samonios in the first year, and between Cutios and Giamonios in the third year. The name of the first intercalary month is not known with certainty, the text being fragmentary. In a suggestion first made by Schmidt (1979:198),the name of the first intercalary month is probably Quimonios, found in the final verse of the gnomic line at the end of the month, OX[.]ANTIA POC DEDOR TON IN QVIMON, emended to [TRICANTON] OX[OC]ANTIA PO(N)C(E) DEDOR TON IN(ON) QVIMON(IV) "Three hundred eighty and five are given this year through Quimonios" (Quimon- abbreviating the io-stem dative Quimoniu).[7] The name of the second intercalary month is reconstructed as Rantaranos or Bantaranos, based on the reading of the fifth line in the corresponding fragment. A gnomic verse pertaining to intercalation was taking up the first two lines, read as CIALLOS B(IS) SONNO CINGOS.[8] The term sonno cingos is interpreted as "sun's march" = "a year" by Delamarre (2003).

The months were divided into two halves, the beginning of the second half marked with the term atenoux or "renewal"[9] (cf. Old Irish athnugud "renewal"). The basic unit of the Celtic calendar was thus the fortnight or half-month, as is also suggested in traces in Celtic folklore. The first half was always 15 days, the second half either 14 or 15 days on alternate months (similar to Hindu calendars).

Months of 30 days were marked MAT, months of 29 days were marked ANM(AT). This has been read as "lucky" and "unlucky", respectively, based on comparison with Middle Welsh mad and anfad, but the meaning could here also be merely descriptive, "complete" and "incomplete".[10] There is no indication of any religious or ritual content.[11]

Detail of Samonios (year 1), with Quimon- visible at the top.

The Coligny calendar as reconstructed consisted of 16 columns and 4 rows, with two intercalary months given half a column (spanning two rows) each, resulting in a table of the 62 months of the five-year cycle, as follows (numbered 1–62, with the first three letters of their reconstructed names given for ease of reference; intercalary months are marked in yellow):


In spite of its fragmentary state, the calendar can be reconstructed with confidence due to its regular composition. An exception is the 9th month Equos, which in years 1 and 5 is a month of 30 days but in spite of this still marked ANM. MacNeill (1928) suggested that Equos in years 2 and 4 may have had only 28 days,[12] while Olmsted suggested 28 days in year 2 and 29 days in year 4.[13]

The following table gives the sequence of months in a five-year cycle, with the suggested length of each month according to Mac Neill and Olmsted:

month name Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Quimonios 30 - - - -
1. Samonios 30 30 30 30 30
2. Dumannios 29 29 29 29 29
3. Riuros 30 30 30 30 30
4. Anagantio 29 29 29 29 29
5. Ogronnios 30 30 30 30 30
6. Qutios 30 30 30 30 30
Rantaranos - - 30 - -
7. Giamonios 29 29 29 29 29
8. Semiuisonns 30 30 30 30 30
9. Equos 30 28 30 28/29 30
10. Elembiuios 29 29 29 29 29
11. Aedrinios 30 30 30 30 30
12. Cantlos 29 29 29 29 29
year length 385 353 385 353 or 354 355
total length 1831 or 1832 days

The total of 1831 days is very close to the exact value of 62 × 29.530585 = 1830.90 days, keeping the calendar in relatively good agreement with the synodic month (with an error of one day in 50 years), but the aim of reconciling the lunar cycle with the tropical year is only met with poor accuracy, five tropical years corresponding to 5 × 365.24219052 = 1826.21 days (with an error of 4.79 days in five years, or close to one day per year).

As pointed out already by Ricci (1898), based on the mention of a 30-year cycle used by the Celts in Pliny's Naturalis historia (book 16), if one intercalary month is dropped every thirty years, the error is reduced to 30 – (6 × 4,79) = 1.27 days in a 30-year period (or a shift of the seasons by one day in about 20 to 21 years). This proposed omission of the intercalary month once in 30 years also improves the accuracy of the lunar calendar, assuming 371 lunations in 10,956 days, or an assumed synodic month of ​37110956 = 29.53010 days, resulting in an error of one day in 195 years.

Steinrücken (2012) has proposed that Pliny's statement that the Celtic month begins on the sixth day of the month[14] may be taken as evidence for the age of this system: assuming that the month was originally aligned with lunations, a shift of five days corresponds to a period of 975 years, suggesting a starting date in the 10th century BC.[15] Omsted (1992) in a similar argument proposes an origin around "850 ± 300 BC".[16]

In the Coligny calendar, there is a hole in the metal sheet for each day, intended for a peg marking the current date. The middle of each month is marked atenoux, interpreted as the term for the night of the full moon.[17]

There is an additional marker prinni loudin in 30-day months (MAT), at the first day of the first month (Samonios), the second day of the second 30-day month, and so on. The same system is used for 29-day months (ANMAT), with a marker prinni laget. In Olmsted's interpretation, prinni is translated "path, course", loudin and laget as "increasing" and "decreasing", respectively, in reference to the yearly path of the Sun, prinni loudin in Samonios marking summer solstice and prinni laget in Giamonios marking winter solstice.[18]

Sample month

The following table shows the arrangement of a complete month (Samonios of year 2, with TRINVX(TION)SAMO(NII) marked on the 17th day). This is the only month out of 62 that has been preserved without any lacuna.[19]

De Ricci Coligny 1926 detail month14
Drawing of month 14 (Samonios of year 2) by de Ricci (1926).

Each month is divided into two half-months or "fortnights", divided by the word atenoux. Within each half-month, the arrangement is tabular, with the Roman numeral of the day of the half-month (with the hole for the peg marking the current day indicated as a circle). In the next column are occasional "trigrams" of the form +II, I+I or II+, and sometimes the letter M, of unknown significance. In a third column, each day is marked by the letter N or D (excepting days marked as prinni loudin or prinni laget). In the final column, days are marked with additional information, such as IVOS,[20] INIS R,[21] AMB (only found on odd days), among others. In the month Samonios depicted above, the 17th day is marked TRINVXSAMO, corresponding to TRINOSAM SINDIV in Samonios of year 1.

The name of the following month, DVM(AN), is mentioned several times (on days 1, 3, 8 and 16). Conversely, the following month marks days 1, 8, 16 and 17 with SAMON(I). This "exchanging of days" in odd months with the following, and in even months with the preceding month is also found in other parts of the calendar.

List of months

The names of the twelve months as recorded are 1. samon-, 2. dumann-, 3. riuros, 4. anagantio-, 5. ogronn-, 6. cutios, 7. giamoni-, 8. simiuisonna-, 9. equo, 10. elembiu-, 11. edrini-/aedrini-, 12. cantlos. Most of these names are without evident etymology, with the notable exceptions of samon- and giamoni-, being the stems of the words for "summer" and "winter", respectively, besides equos and cantlos, sometimes associated with Celtic words for "horse" and "song", respectively, and ogronn-, interpreted as a word for "cold" by Birkhan (1997).[22]

month name days etymology interpretation[23] notes
1. Samonios 30 "[month] belonging to summer".[24]) June–July trinoxtion Samonii on 17th Samonios presumably marks the full moon closest to midsummer.
2. Dumannios 29 tentatively compared with Latin fūmus "smoke" ("month of fumigation"?).[25] July–August
3. Riuros 30 tentatively compared with Old Irish remor "stout, thick, fat", Welsh rhef "thick, stout, great, large"[26] August–September
4. Anagantio 29 unknown (perhaps "non-travelling"[27] September–October
5. Ogronnios 30 "cold month"[28] October–November
6. Cutios 30 unknown[29] November–December
7. Giamonios 29 "[month] belonging to winter"[30] December–January 17th Giamonios, the day opposite trinoxtion Samonii (i.e. the full moon closest to midwinter) is marked NSDS
8. Semiuisonna 30 unknown[31] January–February
9. Equos 30/28/29 unknown[32] February–March
10. Elembiu(os) 29 compared to the Celtic word for "deer" and the Attic Έλαφηβολιών "month of the deer-hunt".[33] March–April
11. Aedrinios 30 compared with Old Irish aed "fire", "heat"[34] April–May
12. Cantlos 29 compared with Welsh cathl, Old Irish cétal "song". May–June 15th Cantlos is marked TIOCOBREXT(IO)[35]

The names of the twelve regular months can be reconstructed with some certainty in spite of the fragmentary state of the calendar, as each of them was repeated five times. The two intercalary months occur only once each, and their names are consequently reconstructed with much less certainty. The name Quimonios is taken from the reading QVIMON at the very end of the first segment, and the reconstucton of either *Rantaranos or *Bantaranos is based on the reading [.]ANTARAN in the fifth line of the 32nd segment. Olmsted (1992) gives a tentative explanation of *Rantaranos as "the count in between".[36]


  1. ^ The arrangement by de Ricci misplaces four fragments according to Duval and Pinault (1986).
  2. ^ Lehoux, D. R. Parapegmata: or Astrology, Weather, and Calendars in the Ancient World. PhD Dissertation, University of Toronto, 2000.
  3. ^ Lambert p. 111. Coligny Calendar
  4. ^ Duval, P.M. and Pinault, G., Recueil des inscriptions gauloises, Tome 3: Les Calendriers (Coligny, Villards d'Heria), CNRS, Paris, 1986, pp. 35-37.
  5. ^ Lambert, Pierre-Yves, La langue gauloise, Editions Errance, 2nd edition, Paris, 2003, p.111
  6. ^ Lejeune, Michel, "Notes d'etymologie gauloise" ("XI. Les 'Dix Nuits' de Grannos"), Études Celtiques, XXXI, 1995, 91-97.
  7. ^ Olmsted, Garrett, "The Use of Ordinal Numerals on the Gaulish Coligny Calendar", The Journal of Indo-European Studies 16 (1988), p. 296.
  8. ^ Dottin (1920:192); Lambert p. 116.
  9. ^ The interpretation of atenoux as "returning night" is improbable (Delamarre p.58) and "renewing" would seem more probable; thus the month would start at new moon and atenoux would indicate the renewal, ie the full moon.
  10. ^ Bernhard Maier: Lexikon der keltischen Religion und Kultur. S. 81 f.
  11. ^ Bernhard Maier: Die Religion der Kelten. Götter, Mythen, Weltbild, Stuttgart, 1994, 60f.
  12. ^ Eóin MacNeill: On the Notation and Chronology of the Calendar of Coligny, Eriu X, 1928, 1-67.
  13. ^ Garrett Olmsted: The Gaulish calendar (1992), ISBN 3-7749-2530-5. Garrett Olmsted: A Definitive Reconstructed Text of the Coligny Calendar (2001), ISBN 9780941694780
  14. ^ Pliny, NH 16.95: "The mistletoe, however, is but rarely found upon the oak; and when found, is gathered with rites replete with religious awe. This is done more particularly on the sixth day of the moon, the day which is the beginning of their months and years, as also of their ages, which, with them, are but thirty years. This day they select because the moon, though not yet in the middle of her course, has already considerable power and influence; and they call her by a name which signifies, in their language, the all-healing." Bostock, John, Henry Thomas Riley (eds) (1855). Pliny the Elder, The Natural History Book 16, "the natural history of the forest trees". English translation (available online). Original Latin (also available). The Latin text of the specific passage is est autem id rarum admodum inventu et repertum magna religione petitur et ante omnia sexta luna, quae principia mensum annorumque his facit et saeculi post tricesimum annum, quia iam virium abunde habeat nec sit sui dimidia.
  15. ^ Burkard Steinrücken, Lunisolarkalender und Kalenderzahlen am Beispiel des Kalenders von Coligny (2012), pp. 7, 19.
  16. ^ "Most probably the 30-year calendar developed in a purely preliterate tradition as the displacement of the Irish quarter festivals suggests in projecting an origin around 850 ± 300 BC [...] If so, the calendar must have been preserved from generation to generation by a body of supportive gnomic verse." Olmsted (1992:107).
  17. ^ Garrett Olmsted: The Gaulish calendar, Bonn, 1992, p. 172.
  18. ^ Garrett Olmsted: The Gaulish calendar, Bonn, 1992, pp. 76, 176-177
  19. ^ Dottin (1920:182)
  20. ^ Series of days labelled IVOS occur in sequence, marking a period of eight or nine days running from the end of one month to the beginning of the next (mostly 26th to 4th), often interpreted as "festival days", apparently of the nature of a "movable feast" as the IVOS days do not occur in the same months of different years in the five-year cycle. "At the beginning of Elembiv in year 2 there are five IVOS days, whereas other months begin with only three or four. The unusually long run at the beginning of Elembiv year 2 appears to be making up for a lost IVOS day at the end of Equos." Sacha Stern, Calendars in Antiquity, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 305. The word ivos has long been associated with the Celtic word for "yew" (Rhys (1910:52), c.f. Ivo, īwaz) but according to a suggestion by Zavaroni (2007:97) means "(con)junction".
  21. ^ INIS R always follows N in the preceding column. Annuaire 1966-1967, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Librairie Droz, p. 220.
  22. ^ Helmut Birkhan: Kelten. Versuch einer Gesamtdarstellung ihrer Kultur. (1997), 786ff.
  23. ^ Following the interpretation of MacNeill (1926), who places summer solstice in Samonios. This is also endorsed by Le Contel and Verdier (1997). A minority view is expressed by Monard (1999), who prefers to place the beginning of the year at autumnal equinox, resulting in a shift of a quarter of a year in the interpretation of the seasonal placements of the months. The mainstream view has the additional virtue of agreeing with several etymologizations, placing Riuros the "fat month" near harvest, Ogronnios the "cold month" in October/November, and agreement of both Elembiuios with Attic Έλαφηβολιών and Cutios with Locrian Κοούτιος.
  24. ^ Likely an n-stem derivative (with a suffix of appurtenance, -io-) of the Common Celtic root *samo- "summer", found in Old Irish sam, Welsh haf. Cf. Old Irish Samain "(festival of the) First of November", "All-Hallows/All-Saints day" and Mithem, Mithemain "Mid-summer, month of June", Middle Welsh Meheuin "June" (both from Common Celtic *Medi[o]-samVn [V="vowel", likely -o- or -u-], as well as Old Irish Cétamuin "Month of May", "First of May", "May Day" (alternate name for Beltain), Welsh Cyntefin "month of May" (both from Common Celtic *kintu-samonis "beginning of Summer" Schrijver, Peter, Studies in British Celtic Historical Phonology, Rodopi, 1995, p. 265-266
  25. ^ Sanskrit dhūmah "smoke", Greek θύμος (thūmos) "soul, life, passion; anger, wrath" (also θύμιάω [thūmiaoo] "to burn, as incense", θύμα [thūma] "sacrificial offering"). Delamarre (2003)
  26. ^ in which case, the original form may have been *Remros, with later shift of -e- to -i- [compare the alternation between Semi- and Simi- in Semuisonna] and lenition of internal -m-. Some scholars alternately suggest a connection with Old Irish réud, Welsh rhew "cold".
  27. ^ iterpreted as containing the negative prefix *an- and an agentive noun *agant- based on the root *ag- "to go, to conduct, to lead". Cf. Old Irish ag "to go, do, conduct", Welsh agit "goes", perhaps yielding a sense of ""month in which one does not travel".
  28. ^ Birkhan (1997). An n-stem derivative of the Common Celtic root *ougros "cold". Cf. Old Irish úar, Welsh oer. The root *oug- is further compared to Armenian oyc "cold", Lithuanian auksts "cold", and Latin a(u)ctumnus "autumn" by Delamarre (2003).
  29. ^ Delamarre (2003) compares guti "to invoke" (in gutuater, a class of priests of the Carnutes). Sometimes also compared with Κοούτιος (Kooutios) in the Locrian calendar from Chaleion. Locrian Kooutios is equated to the third month of the Federal calendar, which is in turn equated with Delphian Apellaios, corresponding to November. Alan Edouard Samuel, Greek and Roman Chronology: Calendars and Years in Classical Antiquity, Volume 1, Part 7, C.H.Beck, 1972, p. 77.
  30. ^ an n-stem derivative (suffix of appurtenance -io-) derived from the Common Celtic root *giįamo- "winter". Cf. Welsh gaeaf, Breton goañv, Old Irish gaim "winter", Gamain "month of November" (Delamarre 2003).
  31. ^ Perhaps Common Celtic *sēmi- "half" plus *ues- "Spring(time)" or a compound containing a feminine form of the word for "sun", *sonna
  32. ^ The often-cited comparison to the word for "horse" has limited acceptance because the Gaulish word for "horse" is epos, not equos (c.f. Epona). Those scholars who still retain the comparison are reduced to assuming "Q-Celtic dialectal features".
  33. ^ cognate with Welsh elain and Old Irish elit, "doe, hind; young deer". The Attic calendar has a "Month of the Deer-hunt", Έλαφηβολιών (Elaphebolion), equivalent to March–April. Proto-Indo-European root *elen-bho- "deer", which gave us English lamb and the Greek έλαφος (elaphos); Delamarre (2003).
  34. ^ Greek αἰθήρ (aithēr) "bright sky, upper air, ether", ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *aidh- which also gave us Latin aestas "summer" (Delamarre 2003).
  35. ^ Delamarre (2003) proposes derivation from *tio-com-rextu- "day of justice", i.e. "doomsday, court day". Recorded three times for 15th Cantlos, besides for 7th Semiuisonna (year 4), 8th Elembiuios (year 3) and 7th Giamonios (year 3).
  36. ^ Olmsted (1992:200). Only part of the first letter of [.]ANTARAN remains visible, it may be either R, B or S.


  • Delamarre, Xavier (2003). Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise: une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental. 2nd edition, Paris, Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-237-6.
  • Dottin, Georges, La langue gauloise : grammaire, textes et glossaire (1920) no. 53, pp. 172–207.
  • Duval, Paul-Marie and Pinault, Georges (eds) (1986). Recueil des inscriptions gauloises (R.I.G.), Vol. 3: Les calendriers de Coligny (73 fragments) et Villards d'Heria (8 fragments). Paris, Editions du CNRS.
  • Hitz, Hans-Rudolf (1991). Der gallo-lateinische Mond- und Sonnen-Kalender von Coligny.
  • Joyce, P.W. (2000). "Old Celtic Romances". The pursuit of the Giolla Dacker and his horse. Wordsworth Editions Limited, London.
  • Laine-Kerjean, C. (1943). "Le calendrier celtique". Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, 23, pp. 249–84.
  • Lambert, Pierre-Yves (2003). La langue gauloise. Paris, Editions Errance. 2nd edition. ISBN 2-87772-224-4. Chapter 9 is titled "Un calandrier gaulois".
  • Le Contel, Jean-Michel and Verdier, Paul (1997). Un calendrier celtique: le calendrier gaulois de Coligny. Paris, Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-136-1
  • McCluskey, Stephen C. (1990). "The Solar Year in the Calendar of Coligny". Études Celtiques, 27, pp. 163–74.
  • Mac Neill, Eóin (1928). "On the notation and chronology of the Calendar of Coligny". Ériu, X, pp. 1–67.
  • Monard, Joseph (1996). About the Coligny Calendar. privately published monograph.
  • Monard, Joseph (1996). Découpage saisonnier de l'année celtique. privately published monograph.
  • Monard, Joseph (1999). Histoire du calendrier gaulois : le calendrier de Coligny. Paris, Burillier. ISBN 2-912616-01-8
  • Olmsted, Garrett (1992). The Gaulish calendar: a reconstruction from the bronze fragments from Coligny, with an analysis of its function as a highly accurate lunar-solar predictor, as well as an explanation of its terminology and development. Bonn: R. Habelt. ISBN 3-7749-2530-5
  • Parisot, Jean-Paul (1985). "Les phases de la Lune et les saisons dans le calendrier de Coligny". Études indo-européennes, 13, pp. 1–18.
  • Pinault, J. (1951). "Notes sur le vocabulaire gaulois, I. Les noms des mois du calendrier de Coligny". Ogam, XIII, pp. 143–154
  • Rhys, John (1909). "The Coligny Calendar". Proceedings of the British Academy, 4, pp. 207–318.
  • Thurneysen, Rudolf (1899). "Der Kalender von Coligny". Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, 2, pp. 523–544
  • Zavaroni, Adolfo (2007). On the structure and terminology of the Gaulish calendar, British Archaeological Reports British Series.
1897 in archaeology

The year 1897 in archaeology involved some significant events.

Ancient Celtic religion

Ancient Celtic religion, commonly known as Celtic paganism, comprises the religious beliefs and practices adhered to by the Iron Age people of Western Europe now known as the Celts, roughly between 500 BC and 500 AD, spanning the La Tène period and the Roman era, and in the case of the Insular Celts the British and Irish Iron Age. Very little is known with any certainty about the subject, and apart from documented names that are thought to be of deities, the only detailed contemporary accounts are by hostile and probably not-well-informed Roman writers.

Celtic paganism was one of a larger group of Iron Age polytheistic religions of the Indo-European family. It comprised a large degree of variation both geographically and chronologically, although "behind this variety, broad structural similarities can be detected" allowing there to be "a basic religious homogeneity" among the Celtic peoples.The Celtic pantheon consists of numerous recorded theonyms, both from Greco-Roman ethnography and from epigraphy. Among the most prominent ones are Teutatis, Taranis and Lugus. Figures from medieval Irish mythology have also been interpreted as iterations of earlier pre-Christian Insular deities in the study of comparative mythology.

According to Greek and Roman accounts, in Gaul, Britain and Ireland, there was a priestly caste of "magico-religious specialists" known as the druids, although very little is definitely known about them. Following the Roman Empire's conquest of Gaul (58–51 BC) and southern Britannia (43 AD), Celtic religious practices began to display elements of Romanisation, resulting in a syncretic Gallo-Roman culture with its own religious traditions with its own large set of deities, such as Cernunnos, Artio, Telesphorus, etc.

In Roman Britain this lost at least some ground to Christianity by the time the Romans left in 410, and in the next century began to be replaced by the pagan Anglo-Saxon religion over much of the country. Christianity had resumed missionary activity by the later 5th and the 6th centuries, also in Ireland, and the Celtic population was gradually Christianized supplanting the earlier religious traditions. However, polytheistic traditions left a legacy in many of the Celtic nations, influenced later mythology, and served as the basis for a new religious movement, Celtic Neopaganism, in the 20th century.


A calendar is a system of organizing days for social, religious, commercial or administrative purposes. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A date is the designation of a single, specific day within such a system. A calendar is also a physical record (often paper) of such a system. A calendar can also mean a list of planned events, such as a court calendar or a partly or fully chronological list of documents, such as a calendar of wills.

Periods in a calendar (such as years and months) are usually, though not necessarily, synchronised with the cycle of the sun or the moon. The most common type of pre-modern calendar was the lunisolar calendar, a lunar calendar that occasionally adds one intercalary month to remain synchronised with the solar year over the long term.

The term calendar is taken from calendae, the term for the first day of the month in the Roman calendar, related to the verb calare "to call out", referring to the "calling" of the new moon when it was first seen.

Latin calendarium meant "account book, register" (as accounts were settled and debts were collected on the calends of each month). The Latin term was adopted in Old French as calendier and from there in Middle English as calender by the 13th century (the spelling calendar is early modern). A calendar can be on paper or electronic device.

Celtic calendar

The Celtic calendar is a compilation of pre-Christian Celtic systems of timekeeping, including the Gaulish Coligny calendar, used by Celtic countries to define the beginning and length of the day, the week, the month, the seasons, quarter days, and festivals.

Celtic mythology

Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure. For Celts in close contact with Ancient Rome, such as the Gauls and Celtiberians, their mythology did not survive the Roman Empire, their subsequent conversion to Christianity and the loss of their Celtic languages. It is mostly through contemporary Roman and Christian sources that their mythology has been preserved. The Celtic peoples who maintained either political or linguistic identities (such as the Gaels in Ireland and Scotland, the Welsh in Wales, and the Celtic Britons of southern Great Britain and Brittany) left vestigial remnants of their ancestral mythologies that were put into written form during the Middle Ages.

Chamalières tablet

The Chamalières tablet (French: Plomb de Chamalières) is a lead tablet, six by four centimeters, that was discovered in 1971 in Chamalières, France, at the Source des Roches excavation. The text is written in the Gaulish language, with cursive Latin letters. With 396 letters grouped in 47 words, it is the third-longest extant text in Gaulish (the curse tablet from L'Hospitalet-du-Larzac and the Coligny calendar being longer), giving it great importance in the study of this language. The magical subject matter of the text, which invokes the Celtic deity Maponos, suggests it should be considered a defixiones tablet.

Pierre-Yves Lambert, in his book La langue gauloise, offers an analysis.

Coligny, Ain

Coligny (Arpitan: Colignê) is a commune in the Ain department in eastern France.

Early Irish astrology

It is unclear whether a form of Early Irish astrology existed prior to contact with Western astrology, as the earliest Irish language sources are simply translations from standard Western sources. Historian Peter Berresford Ellis argues that although there is evidence of the development of Irish astrology from the 7th Century AD onwards, anything earlier is left to conjecture based on continental Celtic artifacts like the Coligny calendar.While the pre-Celtic megaliths in Ireland are often aligned with solar and lunar phenomena, no evidence has been found for the type of planetary symbol system as seen in other cultures' systems of astrology.

Gaelic calendar

The Irish calendar is the Julian calendar as it was in use in Ireland, but also incorporating Irish cultural festivals and views of the division of the seasons, presumably inherited from earlier Celtic calendar traditions.

For example, the pre-Christian Celtic year began on 1 November, although in common with the rest of the Western world, it now begins on 1 January.

Winter ("Geimhreadh") - November, December, January (Samhain, Nollaig, Eanáir)

Spring ("Earrach") - February, March, April (Feabhra, Márta, Aibreán)

Summer ("Samhradh") - May, June, July (Bealtaine, Meitheamh, Iúil)

Autumn ("Fómhar" Harvest) - August, September, October (Lúnasa, Meán Fómhair, Deireadh Fómhair)In English-language Julian calendars, the months are based on names from Classical mythology, such as the name "February" which derives from the Roman purification rite, Februa. In the Irish calendar, the names of the months in the Irish language refer to Celtic religion and mythology, and generally predate the arrival of Christianity. The words for May (Bealtaine), August (Lúnasa) and November (Samhain), are the names of Gaelic religious festivals. In addition, the names for September (Meán Fómhair) and October (Deireadh Fómhair) translate directly as "middle of harvest" and "end of harvest". 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 people of Ireland. In Irish, four days of the week have names derived from Latin, while the other three relate to the fasting done by early Gaelic Christians.

Dé Luain - from Latin dies Lunae

Dé Máirt - from Latin dies Martis

Dé Céadaoin - referring to Gaelic fasting: from céad (first) aoin (fast) i.e. the first fast of the week

Déardaoin - the day between the fasts

Dé hAoine - the day of the fast

Dé Sathairn - from Latin dies Saturni

Dé Domhnaigh - from Latin dies Dominicus (an alternative Latin name for Sunday, dies Solis being more common)

Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière

The Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière (French: Musée gallo-romain de Lyon-Fourvière) is a museum on the Gallo-Roman civilisation in Lyon (Roman Lugdunum), previously located in the heart of the Roman city and now sited near the city's Roman theatre on the Fourvière hill, half-buried into the hillside on the edge of the archaeological site. The new building was designed by Bernard Zehrfuss and opened in 1975. Internally, it is formed of a concrete spiral ramp descending and branching out into the display rooms. It is managed and operated by the Rhone department jointly with the archaeological museum of Saint-Romain-en-Gal. As well as displaying its own permanent collections of Roman, Celtic and pre-Roman material (inscriptions, statues, jewellery, everyday objects), a plan-relief of the ancient town and scale models of its major monuments such as the theatre and the Odeon, it also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions.

Gallo-Roman culture

The term "Gallo-Roman" describes the Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman morals and way of life in a uniquely Gaulish context. The well-studied meld of cultures in Gaul gives historians a model against which to compare and contrast parallel developments of Romanization in other, less-studied Roman provinces.

Interpretatio romana offered Roman names for Gaulish deities such as the smith-god Gobannus, but of Celtic deities only the horse-patroness Epona penetrated Romanized cultures beyond the confines of Gaul.The barbarian invasions beginning in the early fifth century forced upon Gallo-Roman culture fundamental changes in politics, in the economic underpinning, in military organization. The Gothic settlement of 418 offered a double loyalty, as Western Roman authority disintegrated at Rome. The plight of the highly Romanized governing class is examined by R.W. Mathisen, the struggles of bishop Hilary of Arles by M. Heinzelmann.Into the seventh century, Gallo-Roman culture would persist particularly in the areas of Gallia Narbonensis that developed into Occitania, Cisalpine Gaul, Orléanais, and to a lesser degree, Gallia Aquitania. The formerly Romanized north of Gaul, once it had been occupied by the Franks, would develop into Merovingian culture instead. Roman life, centered on the public events and cultural responsibilities of urban life in the res publica and the sometimes luxurious life of the self-sufficient rural villa system, took longer to collapse in the Gallo-Roman regions, where the Visigoths largely inherited the status quo in 418. Gallo-Roman language persisted in the northeast into the Silva Carbonaria that formed an effective cultural barrier with the Franks to the north and east, and in the northwest to the lower valley of the Loire, where Gallo-Roman culture interfaced with Frankish culture in a city like Tours and in the person of that Gallo-Roman bishop confronted with Merovingian royals, Gregory of Tours. Based on mutual intelligibility, David Dalby counts seven languages descended from Gallo-Romance: Gallo-Wallon, French, Franco-Provençal (Arpitan), Romansh, Ladin, Friulian, and Lombard. However, other definitions are far broader, variously encompassing the Rhaeto-Romance languages, Occitano-Romance languages, and Gallo-Italic languages.

Gaulish language

Gaulish was an ancient Celtic language that was spoken in parts of Europe before and during the period of the Roman Empire. In the narrow sense, Gaulish was the language spoken by the Celtic inhabitants of Gaul (modern-day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine). In a wider sense, it also comprises varieties of Celtic that were spoken across much of central Europe ("Noric"), parts of the Balkans, and Asia Minor ("Galatian"), which are thought to have been closely related. The more divergent Lepontic of Northern Italy has also sometimes been subsumed under Gaulish.Together with Lepontic and the Celtiberian language spoken in the Iberian Peninsula, Gaulish forms the geographic group of Continental Celtic languages. The precise linguistic relationships among them, as well as between them and the modern Insular Celtic languages, are uncertain and a matter of ongoing debate because of their sparse attestation.

Gaulish is found in some 800, often fragmentary, inscriptions including calendars, pottery accounts, funeral monuments, short dedications to gods, coin inscriptions, statements of ownership, and other texts, possibly curse tablets. Gaulish texts were first written in the Greek alphabet in southern France and in a variety of the Old Italic script in northern Italy. After the Roman conquest of those regions, writing shifted to the use of the Latin alphabet.Gaulish in Western Europe was supplanted by Vulgar Latin and various Germanic languages from around the 5th century AD onwards. It is thought to have gone extinct some time around the late 6th century.

History of calendars

The history of calendars, means that people creating and using methods for keeping track of days and larger divisions of time, covers a practice with ancient roots.

Archeologists have reconstructed methods of timekeeping that go back to prehistoric times at least as old as the Neolithic. The natural units for timekeeping used by most historical societies are the day, the solar year and the lunation. Calendars are explicit schemes used for timekeeping. The first historically attested and formulized calendars date to the Bronze Age, dependent on the development of writing in the Ancient Near East. The Sumerian calendar was the earliest, followed by the Egyptian, Assyrian and Elamite calendars.

A larger number of calendar systems of the ancient Near East appear in the Iron Age archaeological record, based on the Assyrian and Babylonian calendars. This includes the calendar of the Persian Empire, which in turn gave rise to the Zoroastrian calendar as well as the Hebrew calendar.

Calendars in antiquity were usually lunisolar, depending on the introduction of intercalary months to align the solar and the lunar years. This was mostly based on observation, but there may have been early attempts to model the pattern of intercalation algorithmically, as evidenced in the fragmentary 2nd-century Coligny calendar. Nevertheless, the Roman calendar contained very ancient remnants of a pre-Etruscan 10-month solar year.The Roman calendar was reformed by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE. The Julian calendar was no longer dependent on the observation of the new moon but simply followed an algorithm of introducing a leap day every four years. This created a dissociation of the calendar month from the lunation.

In the 11th century in Persia, a calendar reform led by Khayyam was announced in 1079, when the length of the year was measured as 365.24219858156 days. Given that the length of the year is changing in the sixth decimal place over a person's lifetime, this is outstandingly accurate. For comparison the length of the year at the end of the 19th century was 365.242196 days, while today it is 365.242190 days.The Gregorian calendar was introduced as a refinement of the Julian calendar in 1582, and is today in worldwide use as the de facto calendar for secular purposes.

List of calendars

This is a list of calendars. Included are historical calendars as well as proposed ones. Historical calendars are often grouped into larger categories by cultural sphere or historical period; thus O'Neil (1976) distinguishes the groupings Egyptian calendars (Ancient Egypt), Babylonian calendars (Ancient Mesopotamia), Indian calendars (Hindu and Buddhist traditions of the Indian subcontinent), Chinese calendars and Mesoamerican calendars.

These are not specific calendars but series of historical calendars undergoing reforms or regional diversification.

In Classical Antiquity, the Hellenic calendars inspired the Roman calendar, including the solar Julian calendar introduced in 45 BC. Many modern calendar proposals, including the Gregorian calendar itself, are in turn modifications of the Julian calendar.

Paul Dissard

Paul Dissard (1852–1926) was a French art historian, a specialist of Gallo-Roman culture. An epigrapher and curator at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, he contributed with Auguste Allmer to change a fledgling science by confronting archaeological evidence and providing a reference documentation.


Samhain (; Irish: [ˈsˠəuɪnʲ] Scottish Gaelic: [ˈs̪ãũ.ɪɲ]) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Similar festivals are held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany), both Celtic branches are roughly as old as each other.

Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. Some Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland are aligned with the sunrise around the time of Samhain. It is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. As at Bealtaine, special bonfires were lit. These were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers and there were rituals involving them. Like Bealtaine, Samhain was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the Aos Sí, the 'spirits' or 'fairies', could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. At Samhain, it was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, and disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. Divination rituals and games were also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples. In the late 19th century, Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer suggested that it was the "Celtic New Year", and this view has been repeated by some other scholars.In the 9th century AD, the Western Christian church shifted the date of All Saints' Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls' Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints'/All Souls' merged to create the modern Halloween. Historians have used the name 'Samhain' to refer to Gaelic 'Halloween' customs up until the 19th century.Since the later 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Samhain, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere often celebrate Samhain at the other end of the year (about 1 May).

Tarentum (Campus Martius)

In the topography of ancient Rome, the Tarentum or Terentum was a religious precinct north of the Trigarium, a field for equestrian exercise, in the Campus Martius. The archaeological survey of the site shows that it had no buildings.The Tarentum gave its name to the ludi tarentini ("Tarentine Games"), the archaic ludi that became the Secular Games; the name is perhaps less likely to have come from the place Tarentum in Apulia. The location of the Tarentum is indicated primarily by the discovery in 1930 of the inscribed record of the Saecular Games (acta) held in 17 BC, which traditionally took place there. It was the precinct within which the underground Altar of Dis and Proserpina was located.

Tycho Brahe days

In the folklore of Scandinavia, Tycho Brahe days (Danish: Tycho Brahes-dage; Norwegian: Tycho Brahedager; Swedish: Tycho Brahe-dagar) are days judged to be especially unlucky, especially for magical work, and important business transactions[ and personal events]. Tycho Brahe (1546–1601) was a Danish astronomer, astrologer, and alchemist and as such achieved some acclaim in popular folklore as a sage and magician.

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