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The Berber calendar is the traditional calendar used by the Berber people of North Africa. This calendar is also known in Arabic under the name of عجمي ajamī "not Arabic" or فلاحي fellāḥī "agricultural"; it is employed to regulate the seasonal agricultural work, a use for which the purely lunar Islamic calendar is not suitable.

The Berber calendar, a legacy of Roman Mauretania, is a surviving form of the ancient Julian Calendar (with month names derived from the Latin) which was used in Europe before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, and which is also still in use in the Eastern churches.

There have been other indigenous calendars among the Berber peoples in the past, for example that of the Guanches of the Canary Islands, but relatively little is known of these.

Contents

Months

Page from a Tunisian calendar giving in red Islamic (top: 26 Ramadan 1419), Gregorian (middle: 14 January 1999), and Berber dates (bottom: Berber New Year of Yennayer 1).

There are no standard forms for the names of the Berber calendar, below are given names as used in Algeria and after the slash, the orthography used in Moroccan household calendars[1] as transcribed from Arabic script (which in Morocco was traditionally used to write Berber texts). Pronunciation, however, differs according to the region. The corresponding forms in English (the Gregorian calendar uses the same month names) are noted in parentheses:

  1. Yennayer / Yennayer (January) : from January 14 to February 13;
  2. Furar / Febrair (February) : from February 14 to March 13.
  3. Meghres / Maris (March) : from March 14 to April 13;
  4. Ibrir / Ibril (April) : from April 14 to May 13;
  5. Mayyu / Mayyu (May) : from May 14 to June 13.
  6. Yunyu / Yunih (June) : from June 14 to July 13;
  7. Yulyu / Yuliuz (July) : from July 14 to August 13;
  8. Ghust or Awussu / Ghusht (August) : from August 14 to September 13.
  9. Shtember / Shutanbir (September) : from September 14 to October 13;
  10. Tuber / Aktubir (October) : from October 14 to November 13;
  11. Wamber / Nuwanbir (November) : from November 14 to December 13.
  12. Jember / Dujanbir (December) : from December 14 to January 13 ;

The Berber calendar includes four seasons with three months for each season: Tagrst (Winter), which includes Jember, Yennayer and Furar, Tafsut (Spring), from Meghres to Mayyu), Anbdu or Iwilen (Summer), from Yunyu to Ghust, and Amwan (Autumn / Fall), which includes Sthember, Tuber and Wamber.

New Year

Yennayer 1, commonly called "Yennayer", is celebrated as the Berber New Year. This day corresponds today to January 14 in the Gregorian Calendar and will do so until 2100. From 1800 to 1900 it corresponded to January 13 (because the Berber Calendar, following the Julian rule, did not omit the leap day in 1900) and from 1700 to 1800, to January 12. In Algeria, many people who don't use this calendar in daily life still celebrate Yennayer on January 13 or at the evening of January 12.

The Berber New Year is known as "Agricultural New Year" to Maghrebins. It is therefore also celebrated by some Arabic-speaking tribes in the Maghreb. They would have maintained some Berber traditions without maintaining their Berber tongue.

Today, the celebration of the Berber new year is encouraged for cultural and politic reasons. In 2008, Libya officially celebrated the Berber new year. The Libyan Berber activists claim that El Qaddafi has manipulated the celebration of the Berber New Year.

Era

In 1968, the Paris-based Berberist group the Berber Academy (also responsible for the Neo-Tifinagh alphabet) decided to adopt a calendar era for the Berber calendar fixed to the accession year of the 10th century BC Egyptian Pharaoh Shoshenq I, who they identified as the first prominent Berber in history (he is recorded as being of Libyan origin).[2] The Berber Academy set a year zero at 950 BC (a common estimate of the accession year of Shoshenq), which allows a convenient conversion of AD years by the addition of 950—thus 2000 AD was the year 2950 in this system.

The Shoshenq era has had only a limited acceptance among Berbers, many of whom continue you use the calendar as traditionally, without any fixed calendar era.

In ancient times a Mauretanian era starting in 44 AD was in use in North Africa, but this was before there was such a thing as a separate "Berber calendar".

See also

References

  1. ^ Yaumiyya al Fajr, Casablanca, 1998
  2. ^ Benbrahim, Malha. "La fête de Yennayer: pratiques et présages". Tamazight.fr. http://www.tamazgha.fr/article.php3?id_article=1841. Retrieved 2007-09-04.  

External links

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