Time in the Realms

Although a number of means exist for marking the days and the passage of time during a year, nearly all folk in Faerûn have adopted the Calendar of Harptos. Even cultures and races that don’t use this method of marking time are at least aware of it, with the result that the Calendar is recognized across nearly all races, languages, and cultures.

A year on Toril consists of 365 days. In the Calendar of Harptos, the year is divided into twelve months of thirty days, loosely following the synodic cycle of Selûne, the moon. A month is made up of three tendays, which is also known as a ride. Five annual holidays fall between the months, thus completing the 365-day calendar. Once every four years, the Calendar of Harptos includes Shieldmeet as a ‘leap day’ following Midsummer.

Specific days of a tenday have no special names. Instead, they are noted by counting from the beginning of the period (‘first day,’ ‘second day,’ and so on). Days of the month are designated by a number and the month name. For example, sages record an event as occurring on ‘24 Kythorn.’ People might also refer to a given day by its relationship to the current date (‘two tendays from today’) or the nearest holiday (‘three days past Greengrass’).

Special Calendar Days

Every nation, faith, and culture across Faerûn has its own special festivals and holidays, the observances of which are governed by the cycles of the sun, the moon, the stars, or some other event. In addition, the Calendar of Harptos specifies five annual festivals tied to the changing of the seasons and a quadrennial festival observed in almost every land, with particular celebrations varying based on local traditions and popular faiths.


The Calendar of Harptos

Month Name Common Name
1 Hammer Deepwinter
Annual Holiday: Midwinter
2 Alturiak The Claw of Winter
3 Ches The Claw of Sunsets
4 Tarsahk The Claw of Storms
Annual Holiday: Greengrass
5 Mirtul The Melting
6 Kythorn The Time of Flowers
7 Flamerule Summertide
Annual Holiday: Midsummer
Quadrennial Holiday: Shieldmeet
8 Eleasis Highsun
9 Elient The Fading
Annual Holiday: Highharvestide
10 Marpenoth Leaffall
11 Uktar The Rotting
Annual Holiday: The Feast of the Moon
12 Nightal The Drawing Down


Midwinter. The first festival of the year is known as Midwinter, though some people name it differently. Nobles and monarchs of the Heartlands look to the High Festival of Winter as a day to commemorate or renew alliances. Commoners in the North, the Moonsea, and other, colder climes celebrate Deadwinter Day as a marking of the midpoint of the cold season, with hard times still ahead, but some of the worst days now past.

Greengrass. The traditional beginning of spring, Greengrass is celebrated by the display of freshly cut flowers (grown in special hothouses wherever the climate doesn’t permit flowers so early), given as gifts to the gods and strewn on the fields in hopes of a bountiful and speedy growing season.

Midsummer. The midpoint of summer is for feasts, carousing, betrothals, and basking in the pleasant weather. Storms on Midsummer night are seen as bad omens and signs of ill fortune, and sometimes interpreted as divine disapproval of the romances sparked by the day’s events.

Shieldmeet. The greatest holiday of the Calendar of Harptos, Shieldmeet occurs once every four years immediately after Midsummer. It is a day for plain speaking and open council between rulers and their subjects, for the renewal of pacts and contracts, and for treaty making between peoples. Many tournaments and contests of skill are held on Shieldmeet, and most faiths mark the holiday by emphasizing one of their key tenets.

Highharvestide. A day of feasting and thanks, Highharvestide marks the fall harvest. Most give thanks to Chauntea on this day for a plentiful bounty before the approach of winter. Many who make their living by traveling road or sea set out immediately following the holiday, before winter comes on in full force and blocks mountain passes and harbors.

The Feast of the Moon. As nights lengthen and winter winds begin their approach, the Feast of the Moon is the time when people celebrate their ancestors and honored dead. During festivals on this day, people gather to share stories, offer prayers for the fallen, and prepare for the coming cold.

Keeping Time from Day to Day

Most people do not keep track of the time of day beyond notions such as ‘mid-morning’ or ‘nigh sunset.’ If someone plans something at a particular time, they tend to base their arrangements around such expressions.

The concept of hours and minutes exists mainly where wealthy people use clocks, but mechanical clocks are often unreliable, and rarely are two set to the same time. If a local temple or civic structure has a clock that tolls out the passing of the hours, people refer to hours as bells, as in “I’ll meet you at seven bells.”

SOURCE: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, pg. 14−15.

Time in the Realms

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