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One of the longest chronological records in human history, the Iranian calendar has been modified time and again during its history to suit administrative, climatic, and religious purposes.
The modern Iranian calendar is currently the official calendar in Iran. It begins at the midnight nearest to the instant of the vernal equinox as determined by astronomical calculations for the Iran Standard Time meridian It is, therefore, an observation-based calendar, unlike the Gregorian , which is rule-based. The Iranian year usually begins within a day of 21 March of the Gregorian calendar.
A short table of year correspondences between the Persian and Gregorian calendars is provided below. The earliest evidence of Iranian calendrical traditions is from the second millennium BCE and possibly even predates the appearance of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster. The first fully preserved calendar is that of the Achaemenids , a royal dynasty of the 5th century BCE who gave rise to Zoroastrianism.
Throughout recorded history, Persians have been keen on the idea and importance of having a calendar. They were among the first cultures to use a solar calendar and have long favoured a solar over lunar and lunisolar approaches. The sun has always been a religious and divine symbol in Iranian culture and is the origin of the folklore regarding Cyrus the Great. Old Persian inscriptions and tablets indicate that early Iranians used a day calendar based on the solar observation directly and modified for their beliefs.
Days were not named. The months had two or three divisions depending on the phase of the moon. Twelve months of 30 days were named for festivals or activities of the pastoral year.
A 13th month was added every six years to keep the calendar synchronized with the seasons. The following table lists the Old Persian months. The first calendars based on Zoroastrian cosmology appeared in the later Achaemenid period to BCE. They evolved over the centuries, but month names changed little until now. The unified Achaemenid Empire required a distinctive Iranian calendar, and one was devised in Egyptian tradition, with 12 months of 30 days, each dedicated to a yazata Eyzad , and four divisions resembling the Semitic week.
Four days per month were dedicated to Ahura Mazda and seven were named after the six Amesha Spentas. Three were dedicated to the female divinities, Daena yazata of religion and personified conscious , Ashi yazata of fortune and Arshtat justice. The calendar had a significant impact on religious observance. It fixed the pantheon of major divinities, and also ensured that their names were uttered often, since at every Zoroastrian act of worship the yazatas of both day and month were invoked.
It also clarified the pattern of festivities; for example, Mitrakanna or Mehregan was celebrated on Mithra day of Mithra month, and the Tiri festival Tiragan was celebrated on Tiri day of the Tiri month. In BC Cyrus the Great uncertain if he was a Zoroastrian conquered Babylon and the Babylonian luni-solar calendar came into use for civil purposes.
Cambyses conquered Egypt in BC. The Zoroastrians adopted the wandering Egyptian solar calendar of twelve months of thirty days plus five epagomenal days. As their year began in the spring with the festival of norouz the epagemonai were placed just before norouz. In Egypt the star Sirius had significance since every years the Sothic cycle its heliacal rising just before sunrise marked the Egyptian new year and the inundation of the Nile.
In Persia also the star had significance, since its heliacal rising there also coincided with the coming of the rain. The fourth Persian month was Tishtrya Sirius, rain star.
The vernal equinox at Greenwich fell on the first day of the first month from to BC inclusive. The fourth month includes 20 July, the date of the heliacal rising of Sirius. In the first year the people carried on using the old calendar, anticipating festival dates by five days.
As each day is named after a god, it is important to observe the celebrations on the right day. Thus the fravasis festival, which in the old calendar was kept between sunset on 30 Spandarmad and sunrise on 1 Frawardin, was now observed throughout the epagemonai.
In the second year of the reform, the old 30 Spandarmad was the new 25 Spandarmad, so from then on the festival covered eleven days, up to the new 1 Frawardin. Five days was considered enough for other festivals, however. In all the lands where the Persian calendar was used the epagemonai were placed at the end of the year. To offset the difference between the agricultural year and the calendar year the tax-gathering season began after the harvest the start of the araji land-tax year was delayed by one month every years.
The magi were followed by three hundred and sixty-five young men clad in purple robes, equal in number to the days of a whole year; for the Persians also divided the year into that number of days. After the conquests by Alexander of Macedon and his death, the Persian territories fell to one of his generals, Seleucus BCE , starting the Seleucid dynasty of Iran. Based on the Greek tradition, Seleucids introduced the practice of dating by era rather than by the reign of individual kings. Their era became known as that of Alexander, or later the Seleucid era.
Since the new rulers were not Zoroastrians, Zoroastrian priests lost their function at the royal courts, and so resented the Seleucids.
Although they began dating by eras, they established their own era of Zoroaster. That was the first serious attempt to determine the dates associated with the prophet Zoroaster's life. Priests had no Zoroastrian historical sources, and so turned to Babylonian archives famous in the ancient world. From these they learned that a great event in Persian history took place years before the era of Alexander. But the priests misinterpreted this date to be the time the "true faith" was revealed to their prophet, and since Avestan literature indicates that revelation happened when Zoroaster was 30 years old, BCE was taken as his year of birth.
The date entered written records as the beginning of the era of Zoroaster, and indeed, the Persian Empire. This incorrect date is still mentioned in many current encyclopedias as Zoroaster's birth date. The Parthians Arsacid dynasty adopted the same calendar system with minor modifications, and dated their era from BCE, the date they succeeded the Seleucids.
Their names for the months and days are Parthian equivalents of the Avestan ones used previously, differing slightly from the Middle Persian names used by the Sassanians. When in April of CE the Parthian dynasty fell and was replaced by the Sasanid, the new king, Ardashir I , abolished the official Babylonian calendar and replaced it with the Zoroastrian.
This involved a correction to the places of the gahanbar , which had slipped back in the seasons since they were fixed. These were placed eight months later, as were the epagemonai , the 'Gatha' or 'Gah' days after the ancient Zoroastrian hymns of the same name.
Other countries, such as the Armenians and Choresmians, did not accept the change. The new dates were:. Immediately after the reform 21 March corresponded to 27 Shahrewar. Here is the calendar for —6 CE:. The change caused confusion and was immensely unpopular. The new epagemonai were referred to as "robber days". The people now observed the "Great" nowruz on 6 Frawardin, which was Zoroaster's birthday and corresponded to 1 Frawardin in the old calendar.
The new 1 Frawardin was observed as the "lesser" nowruz. Hormizd I — CE made the intervening days into festivals as well. Yazdegerd I reigned from — CE. In CE the equinox fell about 19 March, which was 9 Aban. According to al-Biruni, in that reign there was a double adjustment of the start of the araji year. This happened throughout his reign. An araji era was introduced dating from CE, and the Yazdegerdi era dates from 16 June CE, so the Yazdegerdi era is eleven years behind the araji.
The Muslim rulers who took over from the middle of the seventh century used the Islamic calendar for administration, which caused hardship because the year was shorter — i. Traditionally it is said that the caliph Omar reintroduced the Persian calendar for tax collection purposes. In CE there was another double readjustment of the start of the araji year. It moved from 1 Frawardin 12 April to 1 Khordad 11 June. By CE the vernal equinox, 15 March, was again coinciding with nowruz , 1 Frawardin.
In that year, therefore, the epagemonai were delayed four months, moving from the end of Aban to their old position at the end of Spandarmad. The gahanbar didn't move quite to their old places, because the fifth moved to 20 Day, which was the old 15 Day, thus increasing the interval between the fourth and fifth to eighty days and reducing the interval between the fifth and sixth to 75 days. Khayyam and his team had worked 8 years in Isfahan , the capital of Iran during the Seljuq dynasty.
The research and creation of the Khayyam calendar was financially supported by Jalal Al din Shah. Khayyam designed his calendar in which the beginning of the new year, season and month are aligned and he named the first day of the spring and the new year to be Norooz also spelled Nowruz. Before Khayyam's calendar, Norooz was not a fixed day and each year could fall in late winter or early spring. Iranian owe the survival of the Norooz to Khayyam because he fixed the Norooz to be the first day of spring and the New Year and it can not be changed.
From 15 March , when the calendar had slipped a further eighteen days, the araji calendar was reformed by repeating the first eighteen days of Frawardin. Thus 14 March was 18 Frawardin qadimi old or farsi Persian and 15 March was 1 Frawardin jalali or maleki royal.
This new calendar was astronomically calculated, so that it did not have epagemonai — the months began when the sun entered a new sign of the zodiac. About years after the reform of CE, when the vernal equinox was starting to fall in Ardawahisht, Zoroastrians made it again coincide with nowruz by adding a second Spandarmad. This Shensai calendar was a month behind the qadimi still used in Persia, being used only by the Zoroastrians in India, the Parsees.
On 6 June Old Style some Parsees re-adopted the qadimi calendar, and in some adopted the Fasli calendar in which 1 Frawardin was equated with 21 March, so that there was a sixth epagomenal day every four years.
In the jalali calendar became the official national calendar of Persia. In this calendar was simplified and the names of the months were modernised. The first six months have 31 days, the next five thirty, and the twelfth has 29 days and 30 in leap years. Some Zoroastrians in Persia now use the Fasli calendar, having begun changing to it in The present Iranian calendar was legally adopted on 31 March , under the early Pahlavi dynasty.
The law said that the first day of the year should be the first day of spring in "the true solar year", "as it has been" ever so. It also fixed the number of days in each month, which previously varied by year with the sidereal zodiac.
It revived the ancient Persian names, which are still used. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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