Lithuanian calendar from 1990

The Lithuanian calendar is unusual among Western countries in that neither the names of the months nor the names of the weekdays are derived from Greek or Norse mythology. They were formalized after Lithuania regained independence in 1918, based on historic names, and celebrate natural phenomena; three months are named for birds, two for trees, and the remainder for seasonal activities and features. The days of the week are simply ordinal numbers. The Lithuanian calendar shows some similarities with the Slavic calendars.


Medieval calendar with the so-called Sceptre of Gediminas, 14th century
A Lithuanian language calendar by Laurynas Ivinskis

Lithuanian researcher Libertas Klimka [lt] proposed that there was a simple astronomical observatory on the Birutė Hill in Palanga before the Christianization of Lithuania.[1]

The so-called Sceptre of Gediminas cause much speculation about a medieval Lithuanian calendar. It was found on the shore of the Strėva River near Kietaviškės [lt] in 1680. It was an iron stick 68.6 centimetres (27.0 in) in length covered in brass tin with small golden nails that formed various symbols grouped in a spiral of 39 rows. The original was lost at the end of the 19th century, but copies were made and one is kept at the National Museum of Lithuania. A copy owned by the historian Teodor Narbutt was studied and described by the Russian astronomer Matvey Gusev who argued that the symbols marked lunar months and days. No similar artifacts have been found since and researchers doubt its authenticity.[2][3]

The Julian calendar was used in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; the Gregorian calendar was adopted by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1586, a few years after its promulgation in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. In 1800, following Lithuania's annexation by the Russian Empire, the Julian calendar again became the norm, although a part of ethnic Lithuania left of Nemunas River (Suvalkija) retained the Gregorian calendar (see Aleksotas).[4] The Russian Revolution of 1917 re-instated the Gregorian calendar, which had been the Western European standard for over a century, in January 1918. These changes caused some confusion before their usage became familiar.[5]

Names of the months

The standardization of month names was made difficult by the fact that publication of the Lithuanian language in Latin script was illegal from 1864 to 1904 (see Lithuanian press ban) and some drift in the usages occurred.

Month names are not capitalized in the Lithuanian language, reflecting their secular origins.

Days of the week

The days of the week are named in sequence, beginning with Monday. They are pirmadienis ("first day"), antradienis, trečiadienis, ketvirtadienis, penktadienis, šeštadienis, and sekmadienis. They are not capitalized.

See also


  1. ^ Žulkus, Vladas; Klimka, Libertas (1989). "Birutės kalnas – astronominių stebėjimų vieta". Lietuvos pajūrio žemės viduramžiais (PDF) (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Mokslas. pp. 73–85. ISBN 5-420-00243-4.
  2. ^ Kulikauskas, Pranas; Zabiela, Gintautas (1999). Lietuvos archeologijos istorija: iki 1945 m. (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos istorijos institutas. pp. 16–17. ISBN 9986-23-066-7.
  3. ^ Klimka, Libertas (2009). Tradicinių kalendorinių švenčių semantika (in Lithuanian). Vilniaus pedagoginis universitetas. pp. 173–175. ISBN 978-9955-20-438-1.
  4. ^ Timeline of Lithuanian history
  5. ^ Lithuanian calendar from the 13th to 20th centuries Archived 2007-03-02 at the Wayback Machine