The festivals of Middle-earth
part 1, the Mannish reckonings


The author relates the major Mannish festivals and holy days of Middle-earth to our modern calendar. A brief description of each festival is given.


The table below shows the major holy days and festivals of each of the principal Mannish calendars in relation to our modern, Gregorian, Calendar.

The following abbreviations are used: GC, Gregorian calendar; KR, King's Reckoning; StR, Stewards' Reckoning; NR, New Reckoning. Bold numerals indicate the corresponding day in the Gregorian month (non-leap years).

For example, in the Stewards' Reckoning the festival of Lairemerendë, the 'Greenfest', fell upon Lótessë 10, which equates to modern May 1 in non-leap years. For reference, modern and traditional special days are noted, where these fall on or close to the Middle-earth festivals.

For further details concerning the alignment of these calendars, see The Reckonings of Middle-earth. Full day-by-day correspondence tables can be found here.

Modern / traditional


February 1 Erukyermë ('Prayer to Eru') 1 Erukyermë ('Prayer to Eru') 1 Erukyermë ('Prayer to Eru') 1 Candlemas / Brigantia / Imbolc / Start of spring

March   23 tuilérë 15 mettarë (last day)
16 yestarë (first day)
23 Spring equinox


May   1 Lairemerendë (The Greenfest) 1 Lairemerendë (The Greenfest) 1 May Day / Beltane / Start of summer

June 21 loëndë (Midyear's Day) / Erulaitalë ('Praise of Eru') 21 loëndë (Midyear's Day) / Erulaitalë ('Praise of Eru') 21 Erulaitalë ('Praise of Eru') 21 Midsummer solstice (Lithe)


August 1 Eruhantalë ('Thanksgiving to Eru') 1 Eruhantalë ('Thanksgiving to Eru') 1 Eruhantalë ('Thanksgiving to Eru') 1 Lammas / Lughnassadh / Start of autumn

September   23 yáviérë 12 Cormarë ('Ring-day')
13-15 enderi (middle days)
23 Autumn equinox

October       31 Hallowe'en

November 1 Serkerë ('blood-day') > Airilaitalë (The Hallowmas) 1 Airilaitalë (The Hallowmas) 1 Airilaitalë (The Hallowmas) 1 All Hallows / Samhain / Start of winter
5 Guy Fawkes' Night (UK)
11 Remembrance Day

December 20 mettarë (last day)
21 yestarë (first day)
20 mettarë (last day)
21 yestarë (first day)
20/21 Hrívendë ('mid-winter') 21 Midwinter solstice (Yule)
25 Christmas Day


The King's Reckoning

Erukyermë ('Prayer to Eru'): Feb 1
Held at the midpoint between midwinter and the spring equinox, Erukyermë marked the start of spring, and of the agricultural year.

Erulaitalë ('Praise of Eru') / loëndë: Jun 21
The holy day of Erulaitalë coincided with the festival of loëndë. The king ascended to the Hallow at sunrise and offered praise to Eru, asking for continued good weather throughout the coming months. Loëndë was the people's festival, marked with bonfires and feasting to celebrate the sun's highest point.

Eruhantalë ('Thanksgiving to Eru'): Aug 1
Midway between the autumn equinox and mid-winter, on this day the king offered to Eru bread baked from the first grain, also the first fruits of the harvest, in gratitude for the wealth of the year.

New Year
Midwinter was celebrated with a two day festival, marking the last and first days of the year (mettarë and yestarë, respectively). Homes were decked with greenery and the New Year celebrated with rich food and merrymaking.

Serkerë > Laitairín (Hallowmas): Nov 1
In Númenor, the late harvest festival of Serkerë ('blood-day') marked the start of winter. At this time animals were slaughtered for meat to provide food throughout the coming winter. The night was celebrated with torch processions, bonfires and feasting. At this time also the dead were remembered and honoured, in silence and with song.

The Serkerë became perverted in the last years of Númenor, when most of the people fell under the seduction of Sauron. After the Fall, it was never celebrated as before. Instead, the day was named anew Laitairín, the Hallowmas. The people observed a silent vigil at the setting of the sun, in remembrance of all who had suffered or been sacrificed in the dark days before the Fall.

The Stewards' Reckoning

Tuilérë: Mar 23
The new spring festival day of tuilérë expressed hope in the triumph of light over darkness, for most of the people believed—and prayed—that Sauron had perished utterly in the Wreck of Númenor. Its true origins were probably much more ancient.

Lairemerendë (the Greenfest): May 1
The Greenfest marked the start of summer. Trees were decked with ribbons and floral tributes. At night feasting and celebrations were held around great bonfires, to honour Herutaurë, 'Lord of the Wood', and his Lady. The origins of the Greenfest are unknown, but it seems to indicate a race-memory of Oromë the Great Hunter, Lord of Forests, whose spouse was Vána the Ever-young.

Yáviérë: Sep 23
The autumn equinox was marked with the new festival of yáviérë. Essentially a second harvest thanksgiving, in some ways yáviérë expressed the original festival of Serkerë in a new form. It was celebrated with feasting, mostly of the fruits of the harvest; apples, pears, nuts—and wine.

The New Reckoning

The NR maintained most of the main festivals in their original alignments relative to the solar year (although they fell on different dates in the new calendar). The equinoctial festivals of tuilérë and yáviérë were dropped, but essentially were replaced by the New Year (March 15-16) and mid-year (September 13-15) festivities.

Hrívendë ('mid-winter'): Dec 20-21
No longer marking the New Year, the winter solstice festival was renamed, but continued to be celebrated much as it had always been, with rich food, wine, gifts and mirth.

Cormarë ('Ringday'): Sep 12
This new holiday was declared in honour of the Ringbearer, and effectively extended the mid-year/equinoctial Enderi or 'middle-days'.


Brigantia / Imbolc / Candlemas: Feb 1
The pagan festival of Brigantia marked the start of spring, and looked forward to respite from the biting cold of winter. With new life beginning all around, this was a time of renewal and cleansing. The Christian festival of Candlemas celebrates the purification of the Virgin with the lighting of candles. On a mundane level, this continues in the ritual 'Spring Cleaning', when houses are thoroughly cleaned and cleared.

Beltane: May 1
The festival of Beltane began on the evening of May Eve (April 30), and marked the start of summer. Sacred to the sun god Bel (Baldor), the focal point was the sacred fire lit on this night. Each household doused its hearth, new fires being lit afresh from the Beltane bonfire. May Day itself was a time for general merrymaking.

Spring (vernal) equinox: Mar 23
The spring equinox marks the transition into the light half of the year. Traditionally observance celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil.

Midsummer (Lithe): Jun 21
The longest day in the year has traditionally been celebrated with fire: huge bonfires, burning wheels and torch processions. The number of stone circles aligned to the midsummer sunrise attest to the importance of this time of year from ancient times.

Lughnassadh / Lammas: Aug 1
Named for the god Lugh, this was the first harvest festival of the year, marking the first cutting of the corn. Lammas ('loaf-mass') recalls the ceremonial loaves baked from the first flour of the harvest.

Autumn equinox: Sep 23
The autumn equinox was the second harvest festival of the agricultural year. From now on, the hours of darkness increase towards midwinter.

Samhain: Nov 1
The Celtic festival of Samhain began at sunset on what in our modern calendar is October 31. Midway between the autumn equinox and midwinter, this was once also the end of the calendar year. At this time the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. This the time to remember ancestors and loved ones gone before: elements preserved in our modern Remembrance Day (November 11).

It is also a time for divination, and to stay close to the fire, for the spirits walk abroad on this night. The darker aspects of Samhain are continued in a debased form in modern Hallowe'en, whilst the bonfires and fireworks of Guy Fawkes' Night five days later embody the Samhain fires, lit to ward off evil spirits and the approach of winter.

Midwinter / Yule: Dec 21
The shortest day of the year has traditionally been a time of feasting, marking the turn towards longer days, and the promise of spring. In various manifestations, the solstice has been associated with the rebirth of the deity of light. It is no surprise, then, to realise that Christmas Day, marking the birth of the Christ into the world, is marked at this time. In fact, December 25 is Christmas Day because midwinter once fell upon this day, before the static calendar slipped in its alignment to the heavens.


As the accompanying table shows, the KR and StR festivals were closely aligned to the quarter and cross-quarter days of the solar year.

Quarter daysCross-quarters
mid-winterstart of spring
mid-springstart of summer
mid-summerstart of autumn
mid-autumnstart of winter

With the introduction of the NR the spring and autumn observances slipped out of precise alignment with the corresponding equinoxes. Nevertheless, the available evidence points to a strong awareness of, and close relationship to, the natural cycles of the seasons, throughout the period covered by these calendars (some six and a half thousand years). This, of course, is to be expected in what were very much agricultural and maritime communities.

The situation can be compared with that of Dark Age / Medieval Europe, and contrasted with our modern nature-irreverent era. Traditional, primarily pagan (pre-Christian), festivals and holy days also fell at the cross points of the solar or agricultural years. As Christianity became dominant, new holy days were introduced, largely in an attempt to oust the earlier pagan observance.

Thus, as mentioned above, Christmas Day originally fell at the time of the winter solstice, an attempt to subsume the pagan observance of Yule. With time the calendar months slipped out of seasonal alignment, but the date was not adjusted accordingly. For a fuller discussion of the parallels between Christian and pagan holy days see Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition (Nigel Pennick, Aquarian Press, 1989).

The modern 'pagan revival' has seen many of the old observances reinstated (if ever they truly died out): their dates in the main set to preserve original seasonal alignments. It should be noted, however, that any static calender assignment (for example, deciding to mark Beltane on May 1 in all years) will not always fall in step with the seasons.

For example, leap years must be taken into account for dates falling after February 28. It should also be noted that days have not always been marked from midnight to midnight: as described above, many traditional festivals were marked from sunset to sunset.

The implication of all this is that any anyone attempting to understand the festivals of Middle-earth needs as much an appreciation of the seasons and stars as of Middle-earth society, religion and spirituality.