About the calendars:
Before the Two Trees, there was no reckoning of time. When Telperion began to bloom, the First Day began; but the first hour of its bloom was not counted into the tale of hours, but was called the Opening Hour by the Valar. Thus the Count of Time began. Each day contained twelve hours, in which first Telperion and then Laurelin came to full bloom and then waned again to naught. (The Silmarillion, pp. 38-9.)
A Year of the Trees (or Year of the Valar) was the same length as ten Years of the Sun; a Valian Age was 100 Valian Years, or 1000 of our years. (HoMevol. 4, p. 312)
After the destruction of the Trees by Morgoth and Ungoliant, and the creation of the Sun and Moon, time was reckoned differently. We do not know with certainty what calendars were used in the First Age by the Eldar, although they were probably the same or similar to the Calendar of Imladris.
Years and Months:
According to the Calendar of Imladris, as maintained through the Third Age, the Eldar counted time in yén, often inaccurately translated as "year" but meaning 144 years of the sun. A single day (ré) was reckoned from sunset to sunset; each yén contained 52,596 days. They used a week (enquië) of six days for ritual purposes, and these were 8,766 enquier in each yén. The solar year was called a loa ("growth") or coranar ("sun-round"). This was subdivided into seasons for practical purposes. The Calendar of Imladris had six of these seasons.
Seasons among the Eldar:
|Quenya name:||Sindarin name:||Translation:||Length:|
|quellë (or lasselanta)||firith (or narbeleth)||fading||54 days|
Additional days fell outside of any season. Before tuilë came yestarë, the first day of the year. Between yávië and quellë came three enderi, or "middle-days." Following coirë came mettarë, the last day of the year. This provided a year of 365 days. Every twelfth year the enderi were doubled; at the end of every third yén the doubling of the enderi was omitted. The Calendar of Númenor in the Second Age differed. Instead of beginning the year with spring, they reckoned from mid-winter. Eventually they added a seventh day to the week, and reckoned days from sunrise to sunrise. They also divided the loa into more regular and shorter periods. This King's Reckoning was used down until the end of the line of kings in Gondor. It may be set out as follows:
Months in the King's Reckoning:
|Quenya name:||Sindarin name*:||Length:||Modern equivalent:|
*Used only by the Dúnedain in the North.
Additional days outside the months were yestarë (before Narvinyë), loëndë (between Nárië and Cermië), and mettarë (after Ringarë). Every fourth year, except for the last year of a century, loëndë was replaced by two enderi. The Second Age was held to have ended with the overthrow of Sauron; thus S.A. 3442 became T.A. 1. Accumulated millennial deficits and dislocations caused by the new numeration of the years of the Third Age caused Mardil the Good Steward to issue a new calendar in T.A. 2060. According to this calendar, all months had 30 days, and two more days outside the months were introduced: tuilérë (between Súlimë and Víressë), and yáviérë (between Yavannië and Narquelië). Days outside of the months were always considered to be holidays. The Shire Calendar began in 1601 of the Third Age, by the King's Reckoning, and thus the T.A. equivalent of any date given in Shire Reckoning may be found by simply adding 1600. For their months and years, the Hobbits followed the King's Reckoning, with a slight modification. Instead of the two middle months having 31 days, the Hobbits counted 30 days in each, and had a three-day holiday between them. They also used unique names for both months and weekdays.
Months in the Shire:
|Name in Gondor:||Shire name:||Bree name:||Modern equivalent:|
Five days were normally reckoned outside of the months: two days of Yule (1 Yule came after the end of Foreyule, and 2 Yule came before Afteryule); and three days between Forelithe and Afterlithe, called 1 Lithe, Mid-year's Day, and 2 Lithe. Every four years an additional holiday, the Overlithe, was included after Mid-year's Day. A table setting out the Shire Calendar for all years may be found in Appendix D of The Return of the King, p. 384.
Days of the Week:
As noted above, the Eldar used a six-day week.
Days of the Week among the Eldar:
|Quenya name:||Sindarin name:||Subject of the day's dedication:|
|Aldúya||Orgaladhad||the Two Trees|
|Valanya (or Tárion)||Orbelain (or Rodyn)||the Valar (or the Powers)|
The Men of Númenor added a seventh day: Eärenya (Oraearon), "Sea-day," between Menelya and Valanya. They also altered the name of Aldúya to Aldëa (Orgaladh), to refer only to the White Tree. Hobbits used Westron translations of these names.
Days of the Week among Men and Hobbits:
|Name in Gondor:||Archaic Hobbit name:||"Modern" Hobbit name:||Modern equivalent:|
|Menelya||Hevenesdei||Hevensday (or Hensday)||Friday|
|Valanya (or Tárion)||Highdei||Highday||Sunday|
In all regions the last day of the week was the chief day, of holiday after noon and evening feasts, thus corresponding more nearly with modern Sunday. In the Shire, and later also in Bree, an innovation concerning the days of the week was implemented in the time of Isengrim II, in 1083 S.R. From that time on Mid-year's Day (and the Overlithe) were given no weekday name; this meant that every year began on the First Day of the week (Sterday) and ended on the last day (Highday). Unfortunately, nothing is known that would enable us to determine the correspondence between particular dates and days of the week according to the King's or Steward's Reckoning.
The information in this essay is largely from Appendix D in The Return of the King, pp. 384-390. Page numbers may vary by edition.
Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The Return of the King: being the third part of The Lord of the Rings. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993.
Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The Shaping of Middle-Earth: The Quenta, The Ambarkanta, and The Annals. Edited by Christopher Tolkien. Vol. 4, The History of Middle-Earth. New York: Del Rey, 1995.
Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The Silmarillion. Edited by Christopher Tolkien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.