I am researching and comparing ancient calendars, and am currently working on the Celtic calendar right now. In my research, I have found sites, specifically Wikipedia, claiming the month of Samonios is equivalent to a month starting in June Through July of the Gregorian calendar, while others claim it is a month that starts in October through November (1, 2). Does anyone know which is accurate? I lean towards Wikipedia, because it can be updated, but am uncertain. Knowing this will radically change what month celebrations take place. If it is Oct./Nov. than that means Samhain takes place in it, if not Samhain takes place in the Celtic month of Ogronnios. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I asked this same question in Mythology and Folklore, and am not sure if you can duplicate posts like this.


1 Answer 1


The Celtic year started with Samonios. It is a fact non-discussed about.

The question is when the Celtic Year started? Notice, the Coligny table says nothing about that. The only argument for putting the start in June is that Samonios sounds like Summer. But naive etymology cannot be an argument in any discussion, except as a joke. If you want to take it as a fact, you must prove every change from the current state of word up to the probable source word. From Celtic into English. Have you seen those proofs? Neither did I.

We know, that existing Celt nations have their New Year Samain holiday at the end of October. Of course, the real historical holiday was connected to some Moon phase after the autumn equinox, not exactly to October 30 as it is now in some places. But that will give us a possible displacement of +- 28 days and won't reach June at any rate. If somewhen Celts did move the start of the year (such thing happened sometimes for some nations) and moved all months by three (the thing unheard of), there should be some mention of it somewhere, some legends, anything... Have you read about such move? Neither did I.

Already just before AD Celts' tribes covered all of Europe and Asia Minor. A coordinated calendar change in these times was already impossible. So, the change could happen either during the last 10 centuries, when Celts already lived in the same close area, or in the unknown ancient times, where all Celts lived together - before 1200BC. The first simply did not happen, we would know about such change in historical times. The second is possible.

But what could be the reason for such change? It couldn't be a state law - Celts hadn't got a state so long ago. So, it had to be a change in their religion. And it had to be a really great change. On the other hand, we have no knowledge of Celtic religion changes. Their religion remained the same. Celts=Celtic religion, druids and things. That religion was what made Celts Celts. So, if there was another religion before that one, neither later Celts nor we would recognize those people as Celts. Some predecessor tribe, probably.

On the other hand, before 1200BC Celts had no civilization and didn't have any need for a calendar. They had no agriculture yet. (It started at about 700BC in these parts)

Morals: Never trust in naive etymology.

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    Two quick points: (1) I suspect you mean "Asia Minor" instead of "Small Asia"; i.e. referring to Anatolia. (2) Midsummer is celebrated in many cultures because it is both the quiet time between planting and harvest and has the long, lazy, warm, summer evenings. The spring crops have been harvested, so food is plentiful enough for a feast even if the big autumn harvest is still ahead. This is not, as you claim, an impossible or implausible time for a new year celebration. Nov 30, 2020 at 4:17
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    @PieterGeerkens Thank you for both remarks. I edited for them. Really, how could I forget the most sexual midsummer Pagan holiday, or rather, holy night - the shortest night in the year, with acts in the woods, floating wreaths, jumping over fires and things. But anyway, I haven't heard about a nation that got that holiday as a NY. They started in Spring, ended in Autumn, and the end of June was an intermittent stop.
    – Gangnus
    Nov 30, 2020 at 6:25
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    Upvoted the answer. However, if I'm reading this right, this is 1 sentence answering the question, 1 paragraph arguing against another answer, and 3 paragraphs and most of a 4th explaining why you think it unlikely the date ever changed. I could wish the ratios reversed...
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 30, 2020 at 14:51
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    @T.E.D. There are 2 different points of view. The question is which of them is correct. All paragraphs cover all cases to show that the first point has no base and cannot be correct. Which paragraph does not answer the question?... Thank you for the upvote.
    – Gangnus
    Nov 30, 2020 at 15:28
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    Samonios does sound like summer and given that six months later is Giamonios, which sounds like winter, it likely is. The problem with that is that it may not relate to the season of summer, it might instead relate to the summer half of the year. As Celtic time keeping typically starts in the colder darker period hence festivals beginning in the evening, then it stands to reason that the summer half of the year begins in winter. Unfortunately none of the insular Celtic names of months match those on Coligny. Feb 22, 2023 at 11:01

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