The Calendar of the Vikings
As farmers, the Vikings divided the year into summer and winter halves.
Each half was further divided into a number of weeks. Months were of less
importance for farming.
For fishermen and navigators, though, the moon and the 'moons' (months)
were important. Though the Viking calendar therefore might appear a little
inconsistent, it perfectly served their needs.
The calendar which had developed from seasonal and climatic factors, divided
the year simply into equal halves; winter and summer.
A man's age was counted not in years but in "winters", a custom which
still applies to livestock. This would seem to indicate that the beginning of
summer was regarded as a "new year", although there was no New year as
The year was also divided into lunar months. The counting of days was probably
relatively inaccurate, especially in the summer months when the nights are
bright in northern regions and it can be difficult to see the moon. Thus summer
and winter were also divided into weeks, and periods of time were more likely to
be counted in weeks than months.
Although the Roman system for months and days existed in Iceland from the
introduction of Christianity in around 1000, farmers and seamen invariably used
only the old almanac. Not until the late 18th century did laymen begin to use
the Latin names of the months January to December.