The Imperial Calendar is of great importance and influence in the Empire. It allows the common folk to count the passing days and prepare for the festivals. It allows for historical events to be recorded and contextualised in time. It allows men who have never met to agree on reliable dates that they both understand. In short, it is the cog around which the machinery of the Empire revolves. Without standardised, measured time, everything would soon collapse into confusion.
Most people believe that divine Sigmar, first emperor of the united tribes of Man, formed the Imperial Calendar. The dating system splits the 400-day year into twelve months of 32 or 33 days, and includes six important festival days, each of which lie between the months. The months are further divided by eight-day weeks, which bridge the months uninterrupted, even if a week is broken by one of the intercalary festivals.
However, although Sigmar was involved with its creation, the truth of the calendar’s genesis is more complex, and far older than the Empire’s patron.
Days of the Week
The eight days of the week are: Wellentag (Workday), Aubentag (Levyday), Marktag (Marketday), Backertag (Bakeday), Bezahltag (Taxday), Konistag (Kingday), Angestag (Startweek), and Festag (Holiday).[2a]
The reasons for these names are long-forgotten and probably originated in pre-Empire times. Nowadays, market day occurs on any day of the week depending on which part of the Empire you are in, and festivals and holidays take place according to the traditions of each cult. There is no weekly religious holiday, but everyone seizes the chance to celebrate at festival times.[2a]
- Wellentag -- "Workday"[2a][2b]
- Aubentag -- "Levyday"[2a][2b]
- Marktag -- "Marketday"[2a][2b]
- Backertag -- "Bakeday"[2a][2b]
- Bezahltag -- "Taxday"[2a][2b]
- Konistag -- "Kingday"[2a][2b]
- Angestag -- "Startweek"[2a][2b]
- Festag -- "Holiday"[2a][2b]
Months in Order
The twelve months of the year are: Nachexen (After-Witching), Jahrdrung (Year-Turn), Pflugzeit (Ploughtide), Sigmarzeit (Sigmartide), Sommerzeit (Summertide), Vorgeheim (Fore-Mystery), Nachgeheim (After-Mystery), Erntezeit (Harvest-tide), Brauzeit (Brew month), Kaldezeit (Chill month), Ulriczeit (Ulric-tide), and Vorhexen (Fore-Witching).[2a]
The six extra days are: Hexenstag (Witching Day – New Year's Day), Mitterfruhl (Start Growth – Spring Equinox), Sonnstill (Sun Still – Summer Solstice), Geheimnistag (Day of Mystery), Mittherbst (Less Growth – Autumn Equinox), and Mondstille (World Still – Winter Solstice).[2a]
Three of the months mark the agricultural activities that occur at those times – ploughing, harvesting, and brewing. The equinoxes and solstices mark the peak of each season – spring, summer, autumn, and winter.[2a]
Sigmar and Ulric each have one month apiece dedicated to them. Sigmar’s month dominates the onset of summer while Ulric’s month falls in midwinter. This clearly demonstrates their opposing natures. Nobody knows what Sigmarzeit was called in pre-Empire times, though some scholars surmise it was named after Taal.[2a]
- Nachexen -- "After-Witching"
- Jahrdrung -- "Year-Turn"
- Pflugzeit -- "Ploughtide"
- Sigmarzeit -- "Sigmartide"
- Sommerzeit -- "Summertide"
- Vorgeheim -- "Fore-Mystery"
- Nachgeheim -- "After-Mystery"
- Erntezeit -- "Harvest-Tide"
- Brauzeit -- "Brewmonth"
- Kaldezeit -- "Chillmonth"
- Ulriczeit -- "Ulric-Tide"
- Vorhexen -- "Fore-Witching"
Before Time was Recorded
Most of the original tribes that settled the Reik Basin had no formal traditions for keeping time. Those that did usually relied upon the passage of celestial bodies across the sky to keep time for them. Although planets and stars were sometimes used for this, most early tribesmen observed the regular orbit of Mannslieb and the eternal cycle of spring, summer, autumn and winter. This eventually lead some communities to understand time as four seasons of 4 lunar cycles, but few used a system even that complex. As there was no central authority in those early times, each tribal community formed its own traditions for understanding time, often drawing inspiration from their neighbours, conquerors, and the ruins of the Elder Races.
By the time of Sigmar, many conflicting and often inaccurate methods of recording time existed. So many and so different were these, that misunderstandings between early Humans were common, and sometimes a source of conflict. Sigmarite holy texts claim that Sigmar decided to end this problem.
Sigmar is said to have understood the importance of a centrally organised calendar. However, Sigmar’s people were primitive, and though they could observe the seasons and the passing of various celestial bodies, they little understood how to accurately record the passage of time. Those few societies that did mark time rarely celebrated anything beyond the great equinoxes of the seasons, and often relied upon obscure rituals and the alignments of ancient standing stones to do even this. Unsurprisingly, most Humans did not even know how old they were.
Sigmar aimed to resolve this. As he was unable to draw upon established Human calendars and knowledgeable scholars, he turned to his strongest allies, the wise and ancient Dwarfs, and asked for their counsel.
The calendar reputedly created by Sigmar and his advisers drew almost all of its inspiration from the millennia-old Dwarfen calendar. The six Dwarfen festivals—which were already celebrated in most corners of the new Empire under different names—were kept unchanged, and the months were simply renamed, where necessary, to be more applicable to Human life.
Not only was this seen as a simple and convenient solution, but it also ensured that Imperial Dwarf and Imperial Human would forever be bound together in a mutual understanding of the passage of time, strengthening their growing relationship into the future. However, just because a calendar was centrally created, this did not mean that everyone immediately used it. Indeed, in those early times very few did. Instead, they continued practising their local, and oftentimes inaccurate, traditions. To this day, over 2,500 years later, it is still common to find isolated communities that use only variations of the official Imperial calendar, or even ignore it completely.
The Making of a Week
The Dwarfs had no smaller division of their months, barring each day. They referred to each day by its number (from the 1st to the 33rd), and that was that. However, most Human tribes grouped days together in short clumps to help organise their short, busy lives, most commonly to plan their frequent market days. Further, many could not count as high as 33. Sigmar realised he would have to go further than the Dwarfen calendar alone.
Sigmar had the cults and noble bloodlines of the tribes report to him the methods used by their peoples to record the short passage of days. He was overwhelmed by the diversity of the responses. The most common grouping for days was the ‘week:’ a number of days, typically from 3 to 12, between one local market day and the next. However, there were many other groupings. These included the ‘Fünftage’ (a five-day period generated from the solar cycle—i.e. five weeks of five days in one full passage of Mannslieb), the ‘Vierzehnnacht’ (a 14-day period supposedly based upon the time the Endals believed they could withstand a siege), and the ‘Sennight’ (a seven-day period with each day assigned to a different God, although the Gods whose names were used would vary), and many more.
So, rather than embroil himself with months of debate and pointless conflict about how to best split the months, Sigmar fell back on his own traditions. Sigmar’s tribe, the Unberogens, used the term ‘week’ and had a unique grouping of four weeks called the ‘sextday’ (a 16-day period of obscure origin). However, knowing that the warlike Teutogens might easily take offence at a blanket enforcement of Unberogen terms, Sigmar also drew upon the Teutogen ‘Woche,’ a period of eight days reputedly ordered by Ulric himself. As Sigmar was a devout follower of Ulric, it seemed obvious to him to marry all of this for his new Imperial Calendar. And from these foundations, the eight-day Imperial Week was created.
Each day was given a unique name, chosen from the great selection of day names used across the new Empire. These names bore little relevance to the actual use of the day in practise, for any day could be a work day, or a bake day, but they provided comforting continuity for folk that used those terms.
Of course, even though the Empire recorded all official documents using the Imperial Week, most of the tribes continued using their older terms for the days and their groupings. Indeed, over 2,500 years later, some distant parts of the Empire still use archaic methods for counting the passing days, weeks, months and seasons.
- 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Tome of Salvation (pg. 137-140).
- 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd ED -- Signs of Faith