The Kurdish calendar, the months and their meaning: note that the Kurdish calendar and year starts in spring:
1. Xakelêwe | Axlêve | Avrêl - also called Cejnan
Xakelêwe is the first month of the year/spring and is 31 days long. The month falls in between March 20-21 to April 20 according to the Gregorian calendar. Several annual agricultural ceremonies take place during this month. The name Xakelêwe/Axlêve mean “the month when the earth thaws”, as snow and ice start to melt and spring is soon to come. This also explains the name Avrêl. From Av (water) and Rêl (vegetation), the snow in the mountains start to melt, giving water to the vegetation which makes the vegetation to grow again.
The month is also called Cejnan because Kurds celebrate the arrival of spring and also Newroz, the Kurdish/Iranian New Year during this month. Cejn means feast/festival/holiday in Kurdish.
Gulan is the second month of the year and is 31 days long and lasts between April 20 to May 21 according to the Gregorian calendar. The name derives from the word ‘gul’, which means flower or rose in Kurdish. During this month, colorful flowers color the mountains and landscape of Kurdistan. The Kurdish nomads begin their annual movements.
3. Cozerdan | Zerdan
Co/ceh means rye (read: grain) in Kurdish. Zerdan comes from the word zerd/zer meaning yellow. During this month the croplands shifts it’s colors and the seeds turn to yellow which makes the landscape look like a huge yellow carpet. Signaling that it’s time for harvest soon. Wheat (Genim) and Rye (Co) are among the most common grain and a large part of agriculture in Kurdistan. Cozerdan is 31 days long and falls between May 21 to June 22.
4. Pûşper | Puşper
The fourth month of the Kurdish calendar is called Pûşper and is 31 days long. Pûşper is the hottest month of the year and lasts from June 21 to July 22. The dry air and warm days dry up many natural greens and harvests which gave the month it’s name. Pûş is grass when it becomes dry, yellow and light as a 'per’ (feather) -> Pûşper. The agriculture communities starts cutting their harvest for the year.
5. Gelawêj | Gilavêj | Tîrmê/Tîrmeh
The fifth month is called Gelawêj. The month is 31 days long and lasts from July 23 to August 23. The name comes from the star Gelawêj (English: Sirius) that shines over the Kurdistan night sky during this month. The star is also a sign that from now on the nights will get cooler. Gelawêj is a common name for girls. The month can also be called Tîrmeh - meaning 'month of Tîr’. Tîr is another Kurdish name for the star Sirius.
6. Xermanan | Pale | Xuweşan
Xerman is a word related to harvest 'season’ in Kurdish. The collected harvest when gathered in piles is called 'xerman’. Pale means “farm worker”. The month is 31 days long, lasting from August 23 to September 23. The agricultural communities collects the cut harvest and brings it to the villages and towns to sell it.
7. Rezber | Baran/Waran
Rezber, “the month when 'trees’ bear fruit”. In some areas of Kurdistan “rez” means grape tree and in this case the month is named “the month when grapes is ripening”. Many different fruits find their way to the markets during this month and the leaves are slowly turning orange and yellow. The fall celebrations is also in this month and the sheep in the farms mate. Rezber is 30 days long and falls between September 23 to October 24. A rain season begins in Kurdistan during this period and that’s also why the month is called 'baran’ or 'waran’, meaning rain in Kurdish.
8. Gelarêzan | Xêzan | Xezelwer
Gela means “leaf” (read: trees) in Kurdish. Gela-rêzan means “the month of fallen leaves”. Xêzan, which is another name for the month, is 30 days long and lasts from October 24 to November 22. Winter is coming.
9. Sermawez | Saran | Mijdar
This month is named after the word 'serma’ or 'sar’ which means cool/cold in Kurdish. The weather in Kurdistan gets much colder during this month. Followers of the ancient Kurdish religion Kakeyî celebrates a holy day, Rojî Xawînkar, on the 9th of Sermawez. The month is 30 days long and falls between November 22 to December 22. The month is also called Mijdar from the word 'Mij’, meaning fog/mist - 'month of mist’.
10. Befranbar | Befran
Berfranbar means “the month of snowfall” and is the first month of the winter. Befr means snow in Kurdish. The month begins with the longest night of the year, the night some Kurds [and other Iranian peoples] celebrate 'Night of Yalda’. In the past, people spent those cold and dark nights during this month indoors. During Befranbar it was common for people to gathered with the family by the fireplace and tell stories of Kurdish tales and legends late into the night. The month is 30 days and lasts between December 22 to January 20.
- Snow in Kurdish: Befr, Wefr, Berf, Werf, Bewr, Vewre, Vewri, Vowri, Vor
- 'Night of Yalda’ is also called şewî zistan/zimsan, şeva zivistanê, şeva çile, şewî yelda in Kurdish.
11. Rêbendan | Bendan
Rê or rêga means road/path in Kurdish and 'bendan’ refers to the word bend, “to tie” (read: block). Heavy snowfall makes the roads in remote areas to be blocked by heavy snowfall and that’s how the month got it’s name: rê-bendan. The month is 30 days long and lasts from January 20 to February 19, Gregorian calendar.
12. Reşemê | Reşemî | Reşeme
Reşemê comes from the word reşemang - black month. Reş means black and mang/meh means month. The sky is covered by dark (black) clouds and a rainy season starts while the climate gets warmer in the end of the month. Reşemê is 29 days (depending on leap year) and lasts from February 19 to March 20, Gregorian calendar. Another explanation for the name is that the white snow melts during this name and the land/soil becomes visible again giving rise to the name Reşeme.
The Kurdish names for each month were designated depending on the geographical division and the lifestyle of specific Kurdish tribes, villages/towns. The name for a former tribe might be different from a nomadic or agricultural tribe in Kurdistan. Remarkable similarity exists between the names of these months, which put the natural events at the center of choice for the certain name.
The ban on Kurdish culture and language education, particularly in northern areas of Kurdistan, has diminished the significance of the role Kurdish names of the months play in the daily lives of the Kurds. Military actions forced many civilian Kurds to lose their land and property in rural areas and move to cities, a process that causes people to break ties with their generations’ long traditional lifestyles. In the case of Kurdistan, where the practice of “Kurdishness” itself is or at least was for along time considered a crime, it is clear that the Kurdish farmer, nomad and agriculturist who moved to major cities has not found it necessary to maintain the tradition of his ancient Kurdish calendar.
The Kurdish calendar that is used today in some parts of Kurdistan is a combination of non-Kurdish names of the months taken mainly from the Babylonian calendar and Kurdish names, or in some cases non-Kurdish names that have been transformed. This solution has made the names more acceptable among Kurds. For example in the case of Shabatu, which has become Shevba (“the windy nights”) in the Badînanî accent. Nisanu, has become Nîskan. Adaru has become Adar/Avdar. Or Tebetu became Tabax.
The Babylonian months are named: Nisanu, Ayaru, Simanu, Du`uzu, Abu, Ululu/Eylul, Tashritu, Arakhsamna, Kislimu, Tebetu, Shabatu, Adaru.
The Arabic names of the months usually originates from the Babylonian calendar as well, that’s why Kurds in western Kurdistan (Syria) and southern Kurdistan (Iraq) also tend to use the arabized names of the months. Though many Kurds speak of the months in terms of “first month”, “second month”, “third month” etc according to the gregorian calendar.
Winter: Zistan, Zivistan, Zivtan, Zimsan, Zimsu
Spring: Behar, Bihar, Wehar, Wisar
Autan: Payîz, Pahîz