Lunar calendar, what it is and what it is for

Lunar calendar, what it is and what it is for

While the Sun represents stability, the Moon symbolizes changeability and the human being needs both. That is why alongside the classic official solar calendar all, cultures have always paid attention to a lunar calendar. Do we know what it is?


  • Calculate the time
  • The lunar month
  • Lunar calendar, agriculture and astrology
  • The lunar calendar in 2020


Calculate the time

In Musnad Ahmad ibd Hanba l we read Allah imperiously affirm: «Ana al-dahr», or: “I am the Time”, just as in Hinduism one of the names of Shiva is Mahakala, or “the Great Time”. Measuring time is one of the most ancient concerns of the human being, and various attempts to calculate the passage of days, months, seasons and eras date back to pre-historic pre-glacial times. 


The lunar month

Have you ever wondered why the last three months of the year are called October, November and December, therefore names relating to the numbers eight, nine and ten, when in reality we refer to the tenth, eleventh and twelfth months? According to the historians of ancient Rome , this is due to the fact that the first calendars were imported by populations who lived in places where the light lasted ten months, followed by two months at night, thus referring to the lands near the Arctic circle, habitable only tens of thousands of years ago.



One of the methods most used by all peoples and in all epochs to calculate the cyclicality of the year is to refer to the Moon , which despite its mutability shows a regular cyclicality in its phases .


These phases make up a lunatio , or lunar month, in contrast with
the official months of the Gregorian calendar or solar calendar. A lunar month lasts 29 and a half days, and for convenience two lunar months are calculated alternately as one of 29 and one of 30.


Twelve of these lunar months make up a lunar year, made up of 354 days, against 365 for the solar one. For this reason, a purely lunar calendar struggles to follow the cyclical nature of the seasons as we know them, which would tend to follow each year in different months (or lunar cycles).


Yet we find purely lunar calendars in many traditions, both ancient and still existing. The ancient Babylonians and Native Americans calculated the time relying solely on the changing of the Moon , and still today there are many cultures, especially those related to traditional agriculture, which still refer to the lunar calendar. 


Lunar calendar, agriculture and astrology

In China, Nepal and India, for example, agriculture and astrology go hand in hand and there are lunar months that each year fall in a different season. Each full moon has a different name and meaning, marking the beginning of a period of light or darkness, of abundance or scarcity, of humidity or drought.


The lunar calendar in 2020

This year, in 2020 , there will be 12 new moons and 13 full moons (october double lunation), with 13 crescent moons and twelve waning moons. Next year, in 2021 , the number of new moons and full moons will be identical, 12 in both cases. By studying the lunar calendar we will also discover that 2020 will bring us some interesting phenomena: at least three lunar eclipses visible in Italy, two full supermoons and two new supermoons, two full micro moons and a new micro moon, a black moon in August (the third new moon in a season of four), and a blue moon on the last day of October (second full moon in a solar month). 

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