Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

The yearly cycle of fantasy-Time comes in three main flavours. Simplistic calendars note the Seasons (often in paraphrase: the Time of Thaw and Sowing), with an optional midwinter or year-end festival. Others aim for historical resonance by borrowing ancient systems; e.g., the Year of the Fire Dragon, the Moon of Almost Anything, or most often a jumble of Celtic and pagan feasts like Imbolc (1 February), Beltane (Mayday and/or Mayday Eve, which is Walpurgisnacht), Lugnasad (1 August), Samhain (see Hallowe'en) and Yule. Such precise dating as "1 February", though not unknown in Contemporary Fantasy, is hazardous owing to calendar slippage and reform; it should be noted that the pagan feasts are tied to the solstices and equinoxes more firmly than, because of calendar drift, is today immediately obvious.. Finally, some authors invent their own detailed calendars: J R R Tolkien did so for the Shire in Middle-Earth (using a 365-day year with regular leap days, since this is prehistoric Earth), and likewise Terry Pratchett for Discworld (with 13 months totalling approximately 800 days). [DRL]

see also: Mythology; Sun.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.