The Jewish Calendar
The present day Jewish calendar or Hebrew calendar is a mix of both lunar and solar calendar, existing in its present form since the 10th century. The months are calculated based on the different moon phases; they begin just after new moon, when the crescent begins to show. The year is being calculated as to the sun (which requires leap years).
...always begin in the evening at sunset and end on the following evening at sunset. The calculation of the hours begins at 6pm (= 0:00; 24-hour system).
This calculation of days is based upon the biblical account on the creation in Genesis, where after every created day it is said, "And there was evening, and there was morning..." So from our Gregorianic understanding of the calendar, every day begins in the eve: for example Shabbat begins at sunset of Friday evening and ends at sunset of Saturday evening. Since sunset differs each day according to the season of the year there are specific time information so that the candles can be lit 18 minutes before sunset.
There are seven days in a week, yet the first six days have no names. They are being formed either with the first six letters of the Jewish Alphabet each, or with the correspondent ordinal numbers. The seventh day is the Shabbat. So the week begins on Sunday.
א = Aleph Yom Rishon 1st day Sunday ב = Beth Yom Sheni 2nd day Monday ג = Gimmel Yom Shlishi 3rd day Tuesday ד = Daleth Yom Revi'i 4th day Wednesday ה = He Yom Chamishi 5th day Thursday ו = Waw Yom Shishi 6th day Friday ז = Sajin (Yom) SHABBAT 7th day Saturday
[You can see this way of counting of days here in Europe, preserved in the Portuguese language: domingo (Sunday), segunda-feira (2. day = Monday), terça-feira (3. day = Tuesday), quarta-feira (4. day = Wednesday), quinta-feira (5. day = Thursday), sexta-feira (6. day = Friday), sábado (Shabbat = Saturday).]
Months, Leap Years
There are 29 or 30 days in each month. Like this, the months are a little bit shorter than the months in the solar year. This results in a difference of about 11 days per year. In order to avoid the months to wander all around the year, leap years are being built in in regular time periods. This is to ensure that the Jewish feasts, which are taking place at given dates and are often connected to the seasons of the year, will always take place in the same season.
Every 19 years there are seven leap years. In every third, sixth, eights, eleventh, fourteenth, seventeenth and nineteenth year, an additional month is being built in before the month of Adar. This additional month is called Adar I or Adar aleph or Adar rishon. The name of the original month of Adar is then being changed into Adar II or Adar bet or Adar sheni. The feast of Purim, which normally takes place in the month of Adar, is being celebrated in Adar II in leap years.
The civil Jewish Calendar begins in the month of Tishri, which according to the religious Calendar (as to the Torah counting) is the seventh month. The religious Calendar begins in spring in the month of Nisan. This "doublecalendar" is related to the fact that many month names were adapted from the Babylonian language during the exile in Babylon. Before that time, in the majority of cases one spoke of the "seventh month" for example.
Monatsnamen entspricht Länge 7. Tischri תשרי September/October 30 days 8. Marcheshwan מרחשון (Cheshwan חשון)
as leap month
9. Kislev כסלו
as leap month
10. Tevet טבת December/January 29 days 11. Shevat שבט January/February 30 days [Adar (in leap year)] . 30 days 12. Adar אדר February/March 29 days 1. Nisan ניסן March/April 30 days 2. Ijar אייר April/May 29 days 3. Sivan סיון May/June 30 days 4. Tammus תמוז June/July 29 days 5. Av אָב July/August 30 days 6. Elul אֱלוּל August/September 29 days
Month Day Feast Origin Tishri
1-2 Rosh Hashana ראש השנה = New Year Leviticus 23:23-25 . 10 Yom Kippur יום כיפור = Day of Atonement Leviticus 23:26-32 . 15-21 Sukkot סוכות = Feast of Tabernacles Leviticus 23:33-36 Deuteronomy 16:13-17 . 22 Shemini Atzeret שמיני עצרת = the eighth day of celebration Ecclesiastes . 23 Simchat Torah שמחת תורה = Joy of Torah . Kislev
Hanukkah חנוכה = Feast of Dedication, or Feast of Lights 1. Maccabees 4:36f Tevet
to Tevet 2 Hanukkah . Adar
15 Purim פורים = Deliverance from Persia, Feast of Lots Esther Nisan
15-22 Pessach פסח = Passover Exodus 12
6 Shavuot שבועות = Feast of the Weeks Exodus 19-20
Sukkot, Pessach and Shavuot are pilgrimage festivals. Which means that during the era of both temples, people went to the temple in Jerusalem and celebrated sacrificing.
Counting of the years
The counting of the Jewish years begins with the creation of man, which is being dated back to the year 3761 BC. This year results from counting back time data mentioned in the bloodlines and ages down to the first man, Adam, as stated in the Torah. Hence, the Jewish year 5769 is corresponding to the years 2008/09 of the Gregorian calendar.
This article is based on information given in German sources, translated by me, Birgit: payer.de and Webportal Judentum. English spelling checked with Wikipedia and sunset info from Chabad.org