In 1897, a fragmented bronze calendar was discovered in Coligny, France. It is believed to date from around 50 BC and appears to be the remains of a Romanized Gaul model of a Celtic lunar and solar calendar.

It displays a cycle of about five years on 62 tables. Unlike our present day calendar, courtesy of Julius Caesar, this system used the accurate period of the moon's orbit around the Earth, the lunar month, to measure the passage of time. Each lunar month corresponds to 29.53 days. In the Gaul model, the month was divided into two 15 day periods.

Now, a solar year, the time taken by the Earth to circle the sun, or one revolution of the sun about the Vernal Equinox, is nominally 365 days. Twelve revolutions of the moon, however, equal only 354 days. The Coligny Tablet/Calendar had to make two adjustments: first using alternate months consisting of 29 and 30 days; second, adding a month every 2 1/2 or 3 years to link up the shorter lunar year of 354 days to the solar year of 365 days.

In Celtic legend, the new year started on the moonrise of the first last-quarter moon after the Autumnal Equinox. In the Celtic regions of Britain and Ireland, the tradition was held so that the new year started at Samhaim, see Pagan Holidays (November 1) so that it would always occur on the same day of the solar cycle

The Coligny Calendar is a series of stone tablets dating to the time of Julius Caesar; it is a record of the Gaulic (and thus Celtic) year, though it shows some Roman influence, as Roman numerals are used. However, the names of the month are given in Gaulic, and the year begins in November, keeping with what we know of the Celtic year. The calendar is both a lunar and solar calendar, which causes some problem with drifting, but this was accounted for by their astronomers (yes, the Druids). The calendar uses a mathematical arrangement to keep a normal 12 month calendar in sync with the moon by adding an extra month every 2 1/2 years.

Us         Gaulic             Meaning                  Designation  Length
November   Samonios           "Summer's End"               MAT        30
December   Dumannios          "Dark Month"                 ANM        29
January    Riuros             "Frost Time"                 MAT        30
February   Anagantios         "Indoors"                    ANM        29
March      Ogronios           "Cold"                       MAT        30
April      Cutios             "Windy"                      MAT        30
May        Giamonios          "Winter's End"               ANM        29
June       Simivisonnos       "Semi-Spring" or Midsummer   MAT        30
July       Equos              "Horse Month"                ANM        29
August     Elembivios         "Many Fences"                ANM        29
September  Edrinios           "Hot Time"                   MAT        30
October    Cantlos            "Song"                       ANM        29
           Ciallos (intercalculatory month)                MAT        30

ANM meaning "Bad" and MAT meaning "Good"; notice the good months are all 30 days, and the bad months 29. Also notice that February has been considered bad and short for over 2000 years. BTW: Samonios is of course the same as the Irish "Samhain"

Now, according to The Gallic Wars: "All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids. For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night."

And, in reading Pliny's statements on the Druids supposed custom of cutting the mistletoe on the sixth day of the moon, it has been assumed that the month began on the new moon, like the Jewish calendar. Actually, it has a lot of similarities to the Jewish calendar, which leads to an interesting question--did the Celts have contact with the Jews before they migrated west?

According to Ray White, "the era of the New Coligny Calendar (NCC) {began} on October 8th, 1999. This date was chosen because this date corresponds with a new moon on the date of the beginning of European winter. (when the sun is at 15Deg Scorpio)" which is also the day that the megalith at Tara marks the beginning of winter--the day the sun is at 15º Scorpio.


Jean Markale: The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween

Ray White's Coligny Calendar page:

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