I like fiddling with calendars in my worldbuilding, but for Chraest, I originally slapped a 365-day/12-month calendar into the worldbuilding and told myself I’d figure things out later. Later has arrived.
I’m never happy with worldbuilding calendars based on our year and numbering system. It’s actually harder for me to come up with holidays and celebrations and the history of the fictional calendar if I do that. I tend to slide into simply letting them share our seasonal habits. It also makes my world a little less interesting than if I take the time and put forth the effort to create an original calendar for it.
I was talking about the calendar in FM Writers chat this past weekend. Mostly voicing my displeasure over the fact I wasn’t pleased with what I’d come up with just slapping an earth-standard calendar into it. I was struggling with references to holidays in my wip, which I make every so often, because it seemed so bland. Then, Zette, the site’s owner, reminded me of my usual habit of worldbuilding an original calendar by suggesting I change the length of Chaest’s year.
I was hesitant at first, but eventually dove into it. What came out was a 540-day year divided into twelve months of three Cycles. Each Cycle has four months in it, a two-week Holy Month at the beginning, and three six-week Secular Months. The weeks are nine days long, and there is no leap year. I’ve used the magic numbers 3, 6, and 9 to determine pretty much everything to do with the calendar, and need to worldbuild the philosophy behind them now I know what they are. As for the 2 weeks in the Holy Months, I’ve decided 18, the number of days in them, is special because it’s a factor of all three magic numbers.
After determining the month and year divisions, I determined the seasonal equinoxes and solstices. To do this, I declared the spring equinox the first day of the year and counted from there.
Now I’m down to naming the months. Getting those for the Holy Months was pretty easy. Getting the names of the Secular Months is a challenge. I don’t want to simply number them—that feels like cheating. I don’t want to name them after seasonal changes, because the worldbuilding behind this particular Calendar is that the True Gods dictate the calendar to their followers, and they have faithful in every part of the world, including locations with little or no seasonal change at all, or which do not have the seasonal changes typical of middling northern/southern hemispheres, where there is a definite progression through defined seasons. It’s hard to make months named “Frozen Waters” or “First Snows” fit for a tropical or subtropical area where the water doesn’t freeze and they get a period of rain instead of snow. I considered naming them after animals, then realized I can’t do that because not all areas have the same animals. I went to Think Tank, a group brainstorming event held in chat from 7-9 PM Mountain Time each Sunday and Friday, to get suggestions for names based on familial relationships, and the philosophy handed down, but don’t much like what I got.
And my work with it won’t be done with that. Once I have the months named, I need to go through my stories and adjust mentions of time passing, character ages, and the names of months to reflect the new calendar. This is something I look forward to. Having a calendar that isn’t earth standard will make my stories more fun to write.