Time

Personal Note

A note from the Conquest of Gaul might add some context and color here. Ceaser notes

All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids. For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night. Among the other usages of their life, they differ in this from almost all other nations, that they do not permit their children to approach them openly until they are grown up so as to be able to bear the service of war; and they regard it as indecorous for a son of boyish age to stand in public in the presence of his father.

This note is in regards to Gallica ... central France today and is not Ireland ... however France and Ireland's Celtic population are related and share similarities including many aspects of keeping time such as starting with sunset, marking months by the whole phase of the moon, etc.

Is this god "Dis" a reference to the Dagda Donn persona?

Days

The day starts and ends with sunset. This is a unique feature of Celtic culture and is echoed in other aspects such as the start/end of the year being October being the "evening" of the year.

Its worth nothing that when saying numbers of "days" it appears more common to see it as nights. e.g. the welsh word for a week is Wythnos ... literally "8 nights".

Week

This seems to be 8 days not 7 ... possibly a quarter lunar month? (7.375 days). The words we find in related cultures for this literally translates as 8 nights or 8 days.

We do not find any notable recording of a "week" in relation to Irish culture though we do find half month and month as it relates to the moon.

Cรณicthiges

Similar to the modern English "fortnight"

This is 15 days though not the 14 we use now ... also not 2 weeks ... its 2 weeks less a day assuming 8 day weeks but does align better with half a lunar month (14.75 days) so I presume if the month starts on a New moon then 1 Cรณichtinges puts us on the Full Moon and 1 more starts the next.

Month

Months are lunar and start with a whole cycle of the moon. There is some disagreement on what phase is the starting phase (New vs Full). Not sure how relevant the specifics of what phase is the start/end as this would at most shift things by 14.5 days. The pattern and effect remains the same as the key points in the year are known to be the two equinox and the shortest and longest days of the year.

While the moon was apparently quite important they understood that the lunar cycle did not align with the solar cycle. Have a look at the article on Astronomy for more information.

Below we map the modern Georgann months to the Irish month names though these would not align properly every year in that a Celtic month is lunar with leap year patterns that reconcile periodically.

Still the general notion can be useful when understanding the passage of time, time based events and festivals, etc.

Samhain

November

You might know this word to mean Halloween ... which is Oct ... specifically Oct 31st and at night ... so Nov 1 to a bronze age Irish person ๐Ÿ˜‰

Meรกn Gheimhridh

December

The modern Irish means birthday and is based on Christmas so we are using the same pattern seen in other Gallic month names (mid winter)

The modern Irish name for this month is Nollaig ... which is a reference to Christmas or a birth day and wouldn't have been the original.

Deireadh Gheimhridh

Took a note from Manx and just called it end of winter the modern Irish term was barrowed from Roman. The Scots Gaelic is interesting and means "Wolf Month"

January

Tรบs Earraigh

Carrying on the tradition of just calling the months start, middle or end of the respective seasons. The modern Irish uses the Roman names here

February

Meรกn Earraigh

The modern Irish takes the Roman name which is named after Mars ... so we took a hint from Manx Gaelic and just called it middle spring

March

Deireadh Earraigh

Copied from Manx again to mean end of spring

April

Bealtaine

May

Meitheamh

June

Deireadh Samhradh

The modern Irish is taken from Roman again so we copy the habit of start, mid, end of season.

July

Lรบnasa

August

A notable festival Lughnasadh associated with Lugh and from which the month gets its name.

Meรกn Fรณmhair

Middle of autumn aka September

Deireadh Fรณmhair

End of autumn aka October

Seasons

Seasons seem to be much more important than "months"

Winter

We start here; roughly Samhain to Bealtaine

Summer

Second half of the year so roughly Bealtaine to Samhain

Year

At this point it gets more messy. Thanks to the Gallic war and Roman occupation of France we do have some recorded information on how Ireland's Celtic cousins on the mainland did things but we don't have much for the Irish them selves beyond knowing they where aware that lunar and solar cycles do not align and that they would have had various means to reconcile lunar phases with solar ones.

The Year seems to be understood more by its spring and fall equinox and then the longest and shortest days of the solar year.

As far as counting of years the archaeological evidence we have suggests more of a focus on lunar phases

Metonic Cycle

This is a feature of lunisolar calendars the 19 year Metonic Cycle of the moon ... that is 19 solar years is nearly exactly 235 lunar months

A few "calendar stones" found around Ireland suggest this was used at least in regards to building layout.

Synodic Month

aka the Lunar month, this is tracking the phases of the moon as observed from earth roughly 29.5 days.

Neolithic Irish where aware that the lunar "year" did not align with the solar year and calculated this on "calendar stones". These stones define the lunar month as 29 days and show the error with the solar year and express the 235 lunar month long Metonic Cycle or so archaeological papers suggest.

Personal Notes

We don't really need to get stuck in the weeds from the point of view of folklore the relevant bit here is that the passage of time was marked more by the moon than the sun, seasons had there place but more roughly (winter / summer) and everything started with the dark and ended in the light. These vague statements we can be pretty sure are accurate as we do have written reference to the same in the late bronze age for related cultures.

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