When Tolkien created the Eldar (Elves), he wanted them to be seen as a somewhat mysterious and magical race as compared to their Atani (Men) counterparts. Not only did he create a new language for them (several actually!), but he also created a different calendar system for them to use, which turns out to be somewhat complex. Readers are introduced to the Calendar of Imladris in Appendix D of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. There Tolkien describes how the Elves track time differently from Men, due to the fact that they live much much longer and have more time at their disposal.
One of the differences in the Elvish calendar to the modern Gregorian calendar is that the Elves do not use months, rather they use seasons. Their calendar consists of six (6) main seasons and five (5) or eight (8) special days; a later post will get into detail why the special days can vary from five (5) to eight (8). Four seasons number 54 days, with the remain two having 72 days each. Combined with the special days, the Elvish calendar numbers 365 days just as the Gregorian calendar does. Again, a later post will focus in more detail how the calendar actually works. For now, let us focus on what each of the Elvish seasons are, as well as each of the special days.
The six main seasons on the Elvish calendar, in order, are: Tuilë, Lairë, Yávië, Quellë, Hrívë, and Coirë.
Tuilë means Spring in the Elvish language of Quenya (the Sindarin form being Ethuil). The season of Tuilë is 54 days long and on the Gregorian calendar of Men, starts near the beginning of April and ends near the latter part of the month of May.
Lairë is the Quenya name for Summer (in Sindarin, Laer). This season is 72 days long and on the Gregorian calendar runs from the latter part of May through to the beginning of August.
Yávië is the Elvish season that marks the waning of Summer and the transition into Autumn. The Sindarin word for this season is Iavas. Both words are derived from the Elvish word for ‘fruit’, yávë (Q), and most likely refers to a time of harvest. Yávië is 54 days long and begins around the start of August and ends near the latter part of September on the Gregorian calendar.
Quellë is the fourth Elvish season and is the season of Autumn. This season has 54 days and runs from about the end of September to the latter part of November on the Gregorian calendar. It is a period known as the ‘fading-time.’ An alternative Quenya name for Quellë is Lasse-lanta, or ‘Leaf-fall.’ The Sindarin equivalents are Firith and Narbeleth.
Hrívë, the fifth Elvish season, is the season of Winter. The Sindarin word for this season is Rhîw. Hrívë is one of the two long seasons, lasting 72 days. On the Gregorian calendar it runs from the latter part of November through to the end of January.
Coirë is the last season on the Elvish calendar. Called Echuir in Sindarin, it is the time of ‘stirring’ or ‘coming to life’. This season marks the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Coirë is 54 days and lasts from the beginning of February through to the latter part of March
In addition to the six (6) Elvish seasons, there are five (5) special days. These are Yestarë, the Enderi, and Mettarë.
Yestarë, or ‘First-day’, is the first day on the Elvish calendar. It occurs right before the season of Tuilë and follows immediately after the end-day, Metarrë.
Enderi, or ‘Middle-days’, happen in the middle of the Elvish year. The Enderi consist of the 3 days nestled between the seasons Yávië and Quellë. Every twelve (12) years these three days are doubled to six.
Mettarë, ‘End-day’, is the last day of the Elvish year. It occurs right after the season of Coirë, and is followed by the first day of the year, Yestarë.
*Note: There I have not given the Sindarin equivalent words to Yestarë, Enderi, Mettarë, as there is no attested words for them given to us by Tolkien and there are too many unattested versions occurring in cyberspace. For this reason, it is perhaps best to only deal with the Quenya words for the seasons and special days.
Pronunciation of the names of the seasons and special days:
Yestarë (yes’tahrr’eh) *Note: in Elvish, the ‘r’ is normally trilled and is indicated here are ‘rr’.
Tuilë (to͞oil’eh), Ethuil (e’tho͞oil)
Lairë (pronounced lai’rreh), Laer (leye’rr; the ‘ae’ combination can be pronounced as ‘eye’)
Yávië (pronounced yaah’vee’eh), Iavas (pronounced yah’vas)
Enderi (end’airr’ee), singular Enderë (end’airr’eh)
Quellë (quel’leh)/Lasse-lanta (pronounced lahs’seh-lahn’tah), Firith (feerr’eeth)/Narbeleth(nahrr’behl’eth)
Hrívë (ree’veh), Rhîw (reew) *Note: for these two words, the ‘r’ is not trilled. Also, ‘í’ and ‘î’ indicate that the ‘ee’ sound should be held longer than it is pronounced in a the word like Firith.
Coirë (koy’rreh), Echuir (e’cho͞oirr — ‘ch’ is pronounced as in Scots ‘loch’)