The months of the Byzantines (Gregorian calendar)

This article is also available in: Italiano

We are all familiar with the Gregorian calendar, but what did they think of Baghdad in 1200? Here is a summary of the 12 months described by Zakariya al Qazwini, one of the greatest Persian encyclopedists ever

Change your point of view

The Gregorian calendar is certainly the best known and most used by us, however I strongly wanted to bring you the version of al Qazwini to give you the possibility of a change of perspective. Personally, in fact, I find it fascinating to observe what we know with different eyes and in this sense this was a great opportunity.

We also take this opportunity to show you the beautiful calendar of the artist Shamira Minozzi; to buy it, click here

In fact, Al Qazwini lived most of his life in Baghdad, a very different world from Italy and, for this reason, with cultural references much more linked to the Eastern churches than to the Catholic one. An example of this is that, since for the Jacobites and Nestorians the New Year was the last of September, it starts the year in October. A small final note: not having translated the book myself, I will bring me a reduction of what the great encyclopedist really said; for the complete text you just need to buy the book.


“The 5th is the feast of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, in which it is said that a fire descends from heaven and lights candles. On the 18th the Nile withdraws. On the 22nd it is sown on the Nile in Egypt. On the 22nd the air begins to grow cold “.



“On the 7th the olives are harvested in Syria, the clouds increase and the sea is agitated to such an extent that no boats sail there. On the 17th the fasting of Christ’s Christmas begins, which lasts for forty days. On the 23rd the Copts collect the olives” .



“On the 17th it is forbidden to eat cow meat and lemons, to drink water after sleeping, to bleed, to spread depilatory cream. This day is called the great Christmas, thus indicating the winter solstice. It is said that if on this day the flow of light passes from the phase of decline to that of growth, men begin to grow and become stronger and, conversely, the jinns to weaken and wear out. The 19th is the longest night and the shortest day. 25 is the birth of Jesus.



“On the 1st, rain is expected, there are calends and a huge fire is lit in Syria. On the 6th is the feast of the Epiphany. On the 25th, cotton and watermelons are sown, trees are planted in the land of the Byzantines, they cut the vines in Egypt and the males of the camels are taken by the desire to mate. ”



“On the 7th the” first coal “falls *. On the 13th the sap starts to flow again in the branches from the roots to their ends; the frogs start croaking again. On the 14th is fasting day for Christians and the” second coal “falls. On the 20th the wolf comes out of the den and on the 21st the “third coal” falls.


* By “coal”, al Qazwini means the temperature that with the first one would mean “cold”, with the second “lukewarm” and with the third “hot”.


“On the 1st grasshoppers and reptiles come out of their burrows. On the 4th is the last of the” old woman’s days “. According to a tradition, it is said that they are called this way because an old Arab fortune-teller had told her people that it was very cold at the end winter would be fatal, with dire consequences for livestock. They, however, did not listen to the old woman and therefore sheared their sheep, sure of the imminent arrival of spring; but a great cold ruined the sowing and the cattle. On the 18th day and night have equal duration: it is the beginning of spring for the Persians and autumn for the Chinese. ”



“The 4th is the feast of the Palms. The 11th is the Easter of Christians. On the 30th the blood boils, the fruits are formed and the almonds ripen”.



“On the 7th is the feast of the Cross. On the 24th, with God’s permission, the plague disappears, the crops green, we sail by sea, the simùn rises, the warm north wind blows and the bunches of grapes turn black. 29 is the Saturday of the Resurrection“.



“The 18th is the longest day and the shortest night; the Arabs and Persians maintain that it is the summer solstice. On 22th, the sickle is brought to the fields, the fruit, the watermelon, the fig and grapes ripen and the heat is intense 25th is the anniversary of the birth of John, son of Zacharias.



“On the 12th, the dog days begin, they are seven consecutive days. On the 24th the intensity of the heat increases, the plague disappears and ophthalmia is frequent. Church of Maria “.



“The 1st is the death of Mary. On the 6th the feast of the Transfiguration begins and on the 17th it ends. On the 22nd the heat subsides”.



“The 1st is the New Year‘s party and the market is held in Manbij. On the 3rd we start to light the fire in the cold countries. The 14th is the feast of the Cross. On the 18th, the night and the day have equal duration; it is the first day of autumn for the Persians and spring for the Chinese. ”

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