I. THE MACEDONIAN CALENDAR IN MACEDONIA
E. Theodossiou, E. Danezis, E., Th.Grammenos, M. Stathopoulou
University of Athens, Faculty of Physics, Department of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanics,
Panepistemiopolis, 15784-Zografos, Athens, GREECE
The ancient greek calendrical system was based upon the lunar phase periodicity, or more precisely,
upon the synodic lunar month. Ancient Greece did not know a unique calendar. Every greek city had its
own luni-solar calendar, characterized by month names which were related to holidays in honour of
greek deities. Furthermore, the beginning of the civilian year coincided with the instant of occurence of
the new moon phase.
In general, there was no accordance between the calendars of different greek cities and
regions, hence between the calendrical holidays. For example, the attic year started in the month
Hecatombaeon after the first new moon which followed the summer solstice (June 21), the aetolian
year started in the winter solstice (December 22), while the lacaedaemonian year started in the
autumnal equinox (September 22). The latter denoted also the beginning of the macedonian civilian
year, the precise starting point of which was set on the first “numenia” after the autumnal equinox. This
signifies, that the Macedonian Calendar was very similar to other greek calendars, the only difference
being the celebration date for the new year.
We come to the conclusion that the Macedonian Calendar was, as the rest of the greek
calendars, a luni-solar calendar . It started after the first new moon following the autumnal equinox
during the month Dios, corresponding to the attic month Pianepsion. Thus, the first month of the year
was Dios. Its name has its origin in the sacred place Dion, the Macedonian religious centre at the foot
of mount Olympus. Every year during the month Dios, the Macedonians celebrated the great god Zeus
at Dion. At this sacred place, the Macedonians were gathered from every place to honour Zeus, the
father of gods and humans, on the first day of their civilian year, i.e. on the first new moon after the
The greek names for months and various festivals as well, indicate that the Macedonians were
a greek tribe speaking and writing in the greek language. Aeschylus  and Herodotus  believed that
the Macedonians were of Doric origin ; hence, some of the names of the macedonian months were
identical in the calendars of Doric cities (e.g., Sparta, Rhodes). Also, Polivius (VII 9,1 and 11,4; V
103,9; IX 37,7; XXXIV 7,13) clearly stated his belief that Macedonia was part of Greece. The same
beliefs were shared by the geographer Strabo as well as the Roman historian Titus Livius, to mention
just a few other ancient scholars. According to Alexandros Gerbessiotis  -based on various sources-
the Macedonians had their own month names and he additionally claims, that: “If one adopts, that
Macedonians were hellenized by the Athenians some time around 340 B.C., then one can safely assume
that these names had to be identical to those used by the Athenians. Otherwise, they would exhibit the
linguistic roots of the Macedonians prior to their alleged who claimed, that Dorians and Macedonians
belonged to the same tribe and thus Macedonians were a greek tribe and macedonian month names
were greek differing from those used by the Athenians”. The correspondence between the ancient greek
calendars  indicates that the greek macedonian month names and the doric ones have an
In the 5th century B.C., Archelaos, king of Macedonia, rendered splendid the feast of the
Macedonian new year’s day by introducing, in honour of Zeus, theatric and gymnic games historically
known as “εν Δίω Ολύμπια”. Gradually, these games became the greatest festival in ancient
Macedonia. Together with Zeus, the local deities of the nine muses were worshiped and honoured.
Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Urania and Calliope, considered as
daughters of Zeus and Mnemosene, were born at Dion of Pieria, at the foot of mount Olympus, within
nine successive nights. Therefore, they were also named Olympiad Muses .
The names and the duration of the macedonian months were as follows  :
Greek Macedonian Name Duration (in days)
2.Apellaeus or Apellaios 29
3.Audynaeus or Aidonaios 30
9.Panaemus or Panemus 30
All the macedonian months can, more or less, be found also in the calendars of other greek cities. Dios,
the first macedonian month, is attested in the Mycenaean Calendar as well as in Greek territories
inhabited by the greek tribe of Aetolians .
The name of the second month, Apellaeus (or Apellaios) has its origin in the famous festival
called the “Apellaia”. So, Apellaeus was the second month in the Macedonian Calendar, but it also
belonged to the Aeolic and Doric Calendars. This month was localized especially in the calendars of
the cities of Sparta and Delphi, where it was also called “month of Apollo”. According to the calendar
of the city of Epidaurus, Apellaeus was the last month of the year, while it also appeared as Apellaeon
in the calendar of the greek island of Tenos.
The third macedonian month name, Audynaeus (Aidonaios or Aid(u)naios) is based on the
name of Hades (=Aidoneus, ). Αϊδωνεύς is the poetic type of the Greek word Άϊδης-Άδης [1b].
Peritia was the name of a greek festival, hence the name of the fourth macedonian month Peritios.
According to Kalleris , Dystrus, the fifth month, and Gorpiaeus, the eleventh macedonian month,
have caused the formation of inadequately supported etymologies. Xanthicus was the sixth macedonian
month and its name originates in the Xanthica festival . The month Artemisius (seventh month in the
Macedonian Calendar) is also reported of in the calendars of Sparta and Delphi, while it appeared as
Artemisios in Epidaurus, Rhodes and Sicily, Artemision in Delos and Artemeision in Chios, as one can
verify from inscriptions found on this island. Daesius, the eighth month, corresponding to the attic
month Thargelion , has also been reported in the calendar of the ancient city of Sikyon .
However, the sikyonian Daesius corresponded to the attic month Anthesterion. Daesius, as Theodaesius
or Theudaessius, is attested to certain Doric regions as in Rhodes, Creta and Sicily. Theodaesia has
been a great greek festival in honour of Theodaesius Dionysus.
Panaemus, Panemos, or Panemus (ninth month in the Macedonian Calendar) is found also in
calendars of various Doric as well as Lokrian, Phokian and Aeolic cities .The etymology of the
eleventh macedonian month, Gorpiaeus, is obscure as we have said already. The macedonian Gorpiaeus
seems to be related to Gorpeius -month of an unknown calendar- which, according to a lexicon,
corresponded to November of the Julian calendar. According to Hemerologium Florentinum, the
macedonian Gorpiaeus had a different correspondence in the various calendars outside Macedonia and
it seems to be related to Gorpheus, which corresponded to September in the Julian calendar .
Finally, the twelfth macedonian month, Hyperberetaeus, originates in the known epithets of
Zeus: Hyperairetes, Hyperberetes or Hyperpheretes .
There is no clue referring to the way this month was divided. It is certain, that the
Macedonians did not use the unknown jewish “week” -the seven day period. We may assume that -like
the rest of the Greeks- they divided the month in three decades of ten days each, with the last decade of
either ten or nine days. Thus, the months endured for 30 or 29 days alternately, giving a total of 354
days per year, since the month and hence the year was controlled by the lunar motion .
Consequently, this lunar calendar needed an intercalary month in order to be harmonized with the
apparent annual orbit of the sun on the ecliptic. In other words, a 13t h month had to be inserted in order
to keep the lunar calendar in line with the solar-tropical year, i.e. with the four climatic seasons of the
year. This reconciliation was a necessary condition for the coordination of the people’s agricultural
occupations. Therefore, a 13th month having 29 or 30 days was periodically inserted into the year to
keep it in line with the apparent solar motion. It remains unknown at which specific time of the year
this insertion was performed. It is said, that it took place either after the 6t h month, or at the end of the
year, i.e. after the 12th month. Sometimes these month insertions were completely arbitrary and were
performed mostly by royal decree. Thus, it is a historical fact that in 334 B.C., when Alexander the
Great was ready to start his military campaign to Asia, he arbitrarily inserted a second Artemisius just
before Daesius. This act can be explained by the fact, that the Macedonians considered Daesius as an
unfortunate month for any kind of military operations. There is a specific ancient inscription referring
to the month Daesius, found at the village Tsepichovo in Macedonia, reading:
ΤΟΥ ΔΑΙΣΙΟΥ ΜΗΝΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΓΜΣ ΕΤΟΥΣ ΤΩΝ
ΠΕΡΙ ΒΑΡΟΛΡΟΝ ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ ΕΝ ΔΕΡΡΙΟΠΩ ΠΟΛΙΤΑΡΧΩΝ
ΣΥΝΑΝΑΓΟΝΤΩΝ ΤΟ ΒΟΥΛΕΥΤΗΡΙΟΝ 
This inscription was found at the Tsepichovo village, but its initial placing was on a hill at the right
bank of the river Erigonus (in Western Macedonia), where the ancient city of Styvera had flourished.
A lot of greek religious festivals were associated to the Macedonian Calendar. During the
winter solstice the Macedonians, and other Greeks as well, celebrated planting and harvest festivals.
After Alexander the Great, the influence of the Macedonian Calendar extended from Macedonia to Asia
-over to India- and Egypt in Northern Africa.
As a result of the conquests of Alexander, the Macedonian Calendar became the most widely
propagated among all luni-solar greek calendars. However, despite its spread, two similar calendrical
systems were developed and used inside Macedonia itself during the occupation of Greece by the