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Persian Calendar

Iranian Month names
Days Farsi
The modern Iranian calendar is the official calendar in Iran and Afghanistan. To find the corresponding year of the Gregorian calendar, add 621 or 622 to a Solar Hejri year. It begins on the vernal equinox as determined by astronomical calculations for the Iran Standard Time meridian (GMT+3.5h). This determination of starting moment is more accurate than the Gregorian calendar as far as predicting the date of the vernal equinox is concerned because it uses astronomical calculation rather than mathematical rules but requires consulting an astronomical almanac. Its years are designated AP, short for Anno Persico. The Iranian year usually begins within a day of 21 March of the Gregorian calendar.

The modern Iranian calendar or sometimes called Persian calendar is the latest in a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Greater Iran. 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.

Although the earliest evidence of Iranian calendrical traditions is from the second millennium BC, predating the appearance of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster, the first fully preserved Iranian calendar is that of the Achaemenids. 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 favored a solar over lunar and lunisolar approaches. The sun has always been a symbol in Iranian culture and is closely related to the folklore regarding Cyrus the Great himself.

Old Persian inscriptions and tablets indicate that early Iranians used a 360-day calendar based on the Babylonian system 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 first calendars based on Zoroastrian cosmology appeared in the later Achaemenid period (650 to 330 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 , 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. Thirteen days were named after Fire, Water, Sun, Moon, Tiri and Geush Urvan Mithra, Sraosha , Rashnu , Fravashi, Bahram Raman and Vata, the divinity of the wind. Three were dedicated to the female divinities, Daena Ashi and Arshtat The remaining four were dedicated to Asman Zam Manthra Spenta and Anaghra Raocha.

The Parthians adopted the same calendar system with minor modifications, and dated their era from 248 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. For example in Achaemenid times the modern Persian month Day was called Dadvah (Creator), in Parthian it was Datush and the Sassanians named it Dadv/Dai.

In 224 CE, Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanid dynasty, added five days at the end of the year, and named them Gatha or Gah days after the ancient Zoroastrian hymns of the same name. This was a modification of the 365-day calendar adopted by Julius Caesar in 46 BCE, based on the Egyptian solar calendar. Iranians had known about the Egyptian system for centuries but never used it.

The new system created confusion and met resistance. Many rites were practised over many days to make sure no holy days were missed. To this day many Zoroastrian feasts have two dates. To simplify the situation, Ardeshirs grandson, Hormizd I, linked the new and old holy days into continual six-day feasts. Nowruz was an exception, as the first and the sixth day of the month were celebrated separately, and the sixth became more significant as Zoroaster's birthday. But the reform did not solve all the problems, and Yazdgerd III, the last ruler, introduced the final changes.

The year 632 was chosen as the beginning of a new era, and this last imperial Persian calendar is known as the Yazdgerdi calendar. Before the Yazdgerdi calendar was completed, Muslim Arabs overthrew the dynasty in the 7th century and established the Islamic calendar, a lunar calendar. The Jalali calendar was outlined in the Qur'an[citation needed], and in the last sermon of Muhammad during his farewell pilgrimage to Mecca.

Umar, the second caliph of Islam, began numbering years in AH 17 (638 AD), regarding the first year as the year of Muhammad's Hijra (emigration) from Mecca to Medina, in 622 CE. The first day of the year continued to be the first day of Muharram. Years of the Islamic calendar are designated AH from the Latin Anno Hegirae (in the year of the Hijra). The solar Jalali calendar was adopted on 15 March 1079 by the Seljuk Sultan Jalal al-Din Malik Shah I (for whom it was named), based on the recommendations of a committee of astronomers, including Omar Khayyam, at the imperial observatory in his capital city of Isfahan.

Month computations were based on solar transits through the zodiac, a system integrating ideas taken from Hindu calendars. Later, some ideas from the Chinese-Uighur calendar were also incorporated. It remained in use for eight centuries. It arose out of dissatisfaction with the seasonal drift in the Islamic calendar which is due to that calendar being lunar instead of solar; a lunar year of 354 days, while acceptable to a desert nomad people, proved to be unworkable for settled, agricultural peoples, and the Iranian calendar is one of several non-lunar calendars adopted by settled Muslims for agricultural purposes.

Sultan Jalal commissioned the task in 1073. Its work was completed well before the Sultan's death in 1092, after which the observatory would be abandoned.

The year was computed from the vernal equinox, and each month was determined by the transit of the sun into the corresponding zodiac region, a system that incorporated improvements on the ancient Indian system of the Surya Siddhanta also the basis of most Hindu calendars. Since the solar transit times can have 24-hour variations, the length of the months vary slightly in different years. However, owing to the variations in month lengths, and also the difficulty in computing the calendar itself, the Iranian calendar was modified to simplify these aspects in 1925 (1304 AP).

On 21 February 1911, the second Persian parliament adopted as the official calendar of Iran the Jalali solar calendar with months bearing the names of the twelve constellations of the zodiac and the years named for the animals of the duodecennial cycle; it remained in use until 1925. The present Iranian calendar was legally adopted on 31 March 1925, 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". It also fixed the number of days in each month, which previously varied by year with the tropical zodiac.

It revived the ancient Persian names, which are still used. It specified the origin of the calendar. It also deprecated the 12-year cycles of the Chinese-Uighur calendar which were not officially sanctioned but were commonly used. The first six months (FarvardinShahrivar) have 31 days, the next five (MehrBahman) have 30 days, and the last month (Esfand) has 29 days or 30 days in leap years. This is a simplification of the Jalali calendar, in which the commencement of the month is tied to the sun's passage from one zodiacal sign to the next. The sun is travelling fastest through the signs in early January (Dej) and slowest in early July (Tir).

The Solar Hejri calendar produces a five-year leap year interval after about every seven four-year leap year intervals. It usually follows a 33-year cycle with occasional interruptions by single 29-year or 37-year subcycles. The reason for this behaviour is that it tracks the observed vernal equinox. By contrast, some less accurate predictive algorithms are suggestion based on confusion between average tropical year

Afghanistan legally adopted the official Jalali calendar in 1922 but with different month names. The Persian language in Afghanistan uses Dari names of the zodiacal signs, while the Pashto language in Afghanistan uses the Pashto names of the zodiacal signs. The Persian calendar is the official calendar of the government of Afghanistan, and all national holidays and administrative issues are fixed according to the Persian calendar.

Public holidays and anniversaries
Date English name Local name Comments
2124 March Iranian New Year Nowruz Zoroastrian
MarchLast Tuesday Wednesday Feast Chaharshanbe Suri Zoroastrian
1 April Islamic Republic Day Ruz-e Jumhuri-ye Eslami Islamic Republic
2 April Sizdah Bedar (Nature Day) Sizdah Bedar 13th day
7 May Martyrdom of Fatima Shahdat-e Hazrat-e Fateme 29 August 632
4 June Anniversary of the passing of Ruhollah Khomeini Dargozasht-e Emam Khomeini 4 June 1989
5 June Anniversary of the uprising against the Shah Ghiyam-e Panzdah-e Khordad 6 June 1963
16 June Anniversary of Imam Ali Milad-e Emam Ali 11 October 599
30 June Mission of Muhammad Be'sat Payambar 9 July 609
17 July Anniversary of Imam Mahdi Milad-e Emam Zaman 2 August 869
21 August Martyrdom of Imam Ali Shahadat-e Emam Ali 31 January 661
31 August End of Ramadan Eid-e-Fitr
24 September Martyrdom of Imam Sadeq Shahadat-e Emam Sadeq 17 December 765
7 November Eid-e-Qorban
15 November Eid-e Ghadir 21 March 632
5 December Tasoa-ye Hosseini 12 October 680
6 December Martyrdom of Imam Hossein Ashura 13 October 680
14 January Arban Arbain-e Hosseini 22 November 680
22 January Demise of Muhammad - Martyrdom of Imam Hassan 632 30 March 670
24 January Martyrdom of Imam Reza 9 September 818
10 February Anniversary of Muhammad and Imam Sadeq May 570 - April 702
11 February Iranian revolution Day 22 Bahman 11 February 1979
19 March Nationalization of the oil industries 20 March 1951

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Page last modified: 12-05-2020 14:19:07 ZULU