Madi Jahangir *- Unlike the other years that we would at the time of new year go on video chat together and celebrate it ‘virtually’, this year was the first time i could celebrate Nowruz with my family in person. This is significant that Iranian calendar starts everywhere in the world exactly the same time. That’s why I’ve never had difficulty to reach my family back home and celebrate with them hearing the new year announcement of Iranian TV among the laughter and tears. As an example, If new year eve in Iran was 2 PM, it would probably be 7 pm in China and for this simple reason, i have never celebrated a new year alone. But how this happens with such an accuracy and how the Iranian calendar works is not such a long story.
Astrology, study of the stars, has its roots in all ancient civilizations. It is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs in which knowledge of the relative positions of celestial bodies and related details was being held to be useful in understanding, interpreting, and organizing information about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial matters.
Later, astrology and astronomy began to go off in different directions; Astronomy became one of the central sciences while astrology was more and more viewed as an occult science.
There are many different kinds of astrology such as: Arab and Persian, Chinese, Indian, Hellenistic , Egyptian/Mediterranean, Western, Babylonian/Assyrian, Islamic, Jewish, Mayan, etc. Here i only focus on relationship between the zodiac system and Iranian/Persian calendar.
Aries (The Ram) : March 21st to April 20th represents Farvardin, first month of Iranian calendar which starts on the first day of spring March 21st.
Taurus (The Bull) : April 21st to May 21st represents Ordibehesht the second month in Iranian calendar.
Gemini (The Twins) : May 22nd to June 23rd represents Khordad the 3rd month in Iranian calendar.
Cancer (The Crab) : June 24th to July 22nd represents Tir the 4th month in Iranian calendar.
Leo (The Lion) : July 23rd to August 22nd represents Mordad the 5th month in Iranian calendar.
Virgo (The Virgin) : August 23rd to September 22nd represents Shahrivar the 6th month in Iranian calendar.
Libra (The Scales) : September 23rd to October 23rd represents Mehr the 7th in Iranian calendar.
Scorpio (The Scorpion) : October 24th to November 21st represents Aban the 8th in Iranian calendar.
Sagittarius (The Archer) : November 22nd to December 21st represents Azar the 9th in Iranian calendar.
Capricorn (The Sea-goat) : December 22nd to January 19th represents Dey the 10th in Iranian calendar.
Aquarius (The Water Carrier) : January 20th to February 18th represents Bahman the 11th in Iranian calendar.
Pisces (The Fishes) : February 19th to March 20th represents Esfand the 12th in Iranian calendar.
Based on this arrangement, you can calculate your exact birthday in Iranian calendar. Mine is Ordibehesht 11th, which is the May 1st in western calendar. In Iran like the rest of the world, it is the international Labor day.
Iranian Calendar is based on the solar astronomical system. My non-Iranian friends are often surprised when i tell them we use a different calendar in Iran. “Really?” They ask me with wide eyes. Yes really! Even though in Iranian calendar, Islamic and western dates are mentioned as well, but the Iranian date is the one most often used in daily life. The current calendar began numbering years in AH 17 (638 CE), regarding the first year as the year of prophet Muhammad ‘s emigration from Mecca to Medina. It’s divided to 365 days, 12 months and 4 season. In a way that every season contains 3 months. Each month in warm seasons of Spring and summer are 31 days. Months in cold seasons are 30 days, except the last month which swings from 29 to 30 every 4 years. As organized as that! It is much easier to memorize the days of a month and to guess the date based on Iranian calendar.
Even if the current calendar is being counted from the Prophet’s immigration, it has some thousands of years more history back then and there are many stories behind its foundation. Most of the stories have their footprints in the Persian mythology based on the tale of king Jamshid and his victory over the dark and evil. However, centuries later the calendar became rearranged again.
Last year my dear friend gave me a poem book by Omar Khayyam, the well-known Iranian poet with his poem translated in Chinese. It proved to me that his fame is widespread and so popular are his poems around the world. However he is less known for his great works in astronomy, one of which is the rearrangement of Iranian calendar to the current style. He managed to correct inaccuracies of Iranian calendar in a way that one day is added to last month -Esfand- every four years and it changes from 29 to 30 days, so that the calendar will remain accurate. For his efforts, Iranian calendar is considered not only more accurate than the Gregorian Calendar, but also the most accurate computation of the solar year in the entire world.
* Madi Jahangir is an Iranian blogger and social media activists. She is project manager at Dream of Iran