Time and Seasons

Almost every people or race of Faerûn marks the passage of days, seasons, and years in some fashion. In Cormyr and a dozen other kingdoms, royal astrologers carefully tend the Roll of Years. Even the war-heralds of the unlettered orc-tribes compose harsh chants that record the days and deeds of their fierce chieftains.

Day and Night

Faerûn's days are 24 hours long, divided into night and day by the rising and setting sun. In southern lands such as Halruaa, the length of the night does not vary much with the season, and 12 hours of light and 12 of dark is the rule year-round. In the north, the days are markedly longer in summer and shorter in winter. Midwinter day in Silverymoon sees little more than 8 hours of daylight,, and Midsummer almost 16.

Ten days comprise a Faerûnian week, also known as a tenday or, less commonly, a ride. The individual days of the tenday do not have names. Instead, they're referred to by number: first-day, second-day, and so on. Most folk start counting using their thumb as first-day, but halflings are famous for using their pinkies to count first-day, so much so that the phrase "counting like a halfling" means that someone is being different just to be difficult.

The Hours of the Day

Timepieces are very rare, and most people break up the day into ten large slices - dawn, morning, highsun (or noon), afternoon, dusk, sunset, evening, midnight, moondark. (or night's heart), and night's end. Dozens of conventions for naming these portions of the day exist, and cause no little confusion for travelers in foreign lands.

These customary divisions are only approximations, and one person's late afternoon might be another's early dusk: Local customs dictate the general length of each portion of the day. Each of these customary periods lasts anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, so highsun is generally accounted to be noon and an hour or so on either side.

Few Faerûnians have cause to measure an hour (or any length of time shorter than a day) with any great precision. People are accustomed to gauging time by intuition, the movement of the sun, and the activity around them. Two merchants might agree to meet at a particular tavern at dusk, and chances are both will show up within 15 or 20 minutes of each other.

In large cities, the tolling of temple bells replaces the more casual accounting of the day's passage. Several major faiths attempt to measure time more accurately. The priests of Gond treasure their mechanical clocks and delight in sounding them for all to hear. Lathanderians assign acolytes to watch sundials, carefully adjusted by years of observation of the sun's movements in the sky. Traditionally, the hours are numbered 1 to 12 twice, and the bells sound once for each hour on the hour. "Twelve bells" is virtually interchangeable with "midnight" - or "highsun," depending on the context.

The Calendar of Harptos

Most of Faerûn uses the Calendar of Harptos, named after the long-dead wizard who invented it. Few bother to refer to Harptos by name, since the calendar is the only calendar they know.

Each year of 365 days is divided into 12 months of 30 days, and each month is divided into three tendays. Five special days fall between the months. These annual holidays mark the seasons or the changing of the seasons. The months of Faerûn roughly correspond to the months of the Gregorian calendar.

The Calendar Of Harptos
MonthNameCommon Name
1Hammer Deepwinter
Annual holiday: Midwinter
2Alturiak The Claw of Winter
3Ches The Claw of the Sunsets
4TarsakhThe Claw of the Storms
Annual holiday: Greengrass
5MirtulThe Melting
6KythornThe Time of Flowers
Annual holiday: Midsummer
9EleintThe Fading
Annual holiday: Highharvestide
11UktarThe Rotting
Annual holiday: The Feast of the Moon
12NightalThe Drawing Down


Seasonal Festivals

Five times a year the annual holidays are observed as festivals and days of rest most every civilized land. Each seasonal festival is celebrated differently, according to the traditions of the land and the particular holiday.

Midwinter: Nobles and monarchs greet the halfway point of winter with a feast day they call the High Festival of Winter. Traditionally it's the best day to make or renew alliances. The common folk enjoy the celebration a bit less - among them it's called Deadwinter Day, noted mainly as the halfway point of winter, with hard times still to come.

Greengrass: The official beginning of spring is a day of peace and rejoicing. Even if snow still covers the ground, clerics, nobles, and wealthy folk make a point of bringing out flowers grown in special rooms within temples and castles. They distribute the flowers among the people, who wear them or cast them upon the ground as bright offerings to the deities who summon the summer.

Midsummer: Midsummer night is a time of feasting and music and love. Acquaintances turn into dalliances, courtships turn into betrothals, and the deities themselves take part by ensuring good weather for feasting and frolicking in the woods. Bad weather on this special night is taken as an omen of extremely ill fortune to come.

Highharvestide: This holiday of feasting to celebrate the autumn harvest also marks a time of journeys. Emissaries, pilgrims, adventurers, and everyone else eager to make speed traditionally leave on their journeys the following day - before the worst of the mud clogs the tracks and the rain freezes into snow.

The Feast of the Moon: The Feast of the Moon celebrates ancestors and the honored dead. Stories of ancestors' exploits mix with the legends of deities until it's hard to tell one from the other.


Once every four years, Shieldmeet is added to the Faerûnian calendar as a "leap day" immediately following Midsummer night. Shieldmeet is day of open council between the people and their rulers. It is a day for making or renewing pacts and for proving oneself in tournaments. Those not seeking advancement treat the elite's tournaments, duels, and trials of magical prowess as welcome additions to the holiday's theatrical and musical entertainments.

In the Dales, a great Shieldmeet celebration is planned in the town of Essembra in Battledale this year (1372). Other regions of Faerûn have planned festivals ranging from the somber to the outrageous.

Marking the Years)

Almost every land and race has its own preferred system for marking the passing years. The ancient realm of Mulhorand begins its calendar at the founding of Skuld, the City of Gods, more than 3,500 years ago. Cormyrians reckon years from the foundation of House Obarskyr almost 1,350 years ago. Some draconic calendars are reputed to stretch back more than 10,000 years, although few dragons care about something as mundane as the scholarly accounting of events that even the oldest dragons alive today do not remember.


The calendar against which most others are compared is Dalereckoning (DR), marked by the raising of the Standing Stone and the pact between the elves of Cormanthor and the first human settlers of the Dalelands. Dalereckoning was the first human calendar the Elven Court reconciled with its own ages-old calendar, and thus became widespread anywhere elves and humans lived in peace.

The Roll Of Years

Very few of Faerûn's common folk bother with musty calendars and meaningless numbers. Instead, years are known by names. For example, 1372 DR - the current year - is called the Year of Wild Magic. People refer to births, deaths, weddings, and other events by the name of the year. Children learn the order of the years from bards' songs, artistic designs in the great temples, and the teachings of their elders.

The naming of a year is not random, nor does it necessarily commemorate any great event or occurrence. Many centuries ago the Lost Sage Augathra the Mad wrote out thousands of years and named them in the great library of Candlekeep. It's a rare year that doesn't see some event that seems clearly connected with its name, and most folks view Augathra's names as mysterious portents of the years ahead.

Life in the Realms