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The following is a list of timekeeping terminology in the Xhosa language.

Month names

Traditionally

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The traditional Xhosa names for months of the year poetically come from names of stars, plants, and flowers that grow or seasonal changes that happen at a given time of year in Southern Africa.

The Xhosa year traditionally begins in June and ends in May when the brightest star visible in the Southern Hemisphere, Canopus, signals the time for harvesting.

In urban areas today, anglicized versions of the months are used, especially by the younger generation, but in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape, the old names still stand.

Month by month they are, in relation with:

gregorian ones

English Xhosa Explanation of the months
January EyoMqungu month of the tambuki grasss
February EyoMdumba month of the swelling grain
March EyoKwindla month of the first fruits
April UTshazimpunzi month of the withering pumpkins
May UCanzibe / EyeCanzibe month of Canopus
June EyeSilimela month of the Pleiades
July EyeKhala / EyeNtlaba month of the aloes
August EyeThupha month of the buds
September EyoMsintsi month of the coast coral tree
October EyeDwarha month of the lilypad or yet tall yellow daisies
November EyeNkanga month of the small yellow daisies
December EyoMnga month of the acacia thorn tree

Seasons

Days of the week

See also

Further reading

  • Kirsch et al., Clicking with Xhosa, David Phillip Publishers, Cape Town, 2001, p. 43f.