Over the course of the Ages many different means of tracking time have been used by the people of Aetaltis and the Alliance. What follows is a description of the systems adopted by the Atlan Alliance during their dominance in the region and which are still the most widely used throughout the Amethyst Sea basin today.
The calendar commonly used in the Amethyst Sea basin is based on the traditional 364 day halfling calendar. It is arranged around the lunar cycle and is divided into thirteen months of even length that always begin on the full or new moon. Each month is named after one of the Enaros, with the exception of the first month of the year, called Dawn, and the seventh month of the year, called Lensae. Each month is divided into four weeks of seven days that correspond with the phases of the moon. The formal names for the days of the week were taken from the names of seven original Avatars of the Enaros, but today most people use the informal names shown below.
Months of the Year
Days of the Week
Originally the month of Dawn was named after Endroren. Not surprisingly, that name fell into disfavor after the Age of Darkness. The only remaining hint of Endroren’s presence in the old halfling calendar is the Day of Magic. The Day of Magic occurs every two years before the first day of Dawn. It falls outside of the normal calendar and, according to halfling tradition, outside of time itself. Newardin astronomers will note that in fact the day is simply a corrective tool, since the actual length of the year does not correspond perfectly with the calendar.
Each day of the calendar is also assigned the name of an avatar. This is the holy day for that avatar and is often celebrated by the avatar’s followers. It is also the most auspicious day to ask that avatar for aid.
The halflings also developed the system commonly used to track smaller increments of time. The Hearthtales say they invented it to ensure they didn’t miss lunch, but this explanation is viewed with a healthy amount of skepticism. Each Aetaltan day is divided into twenty-four hours of equal length. When one gives the time, it is shared as “hours before midday” or “hours after midday.” It should be noted that travelers to the Dalelands will find that halflings prefer to say “hours before lunch” and “hour after lunch.”
People will occasionally refer to half-hours (“An hour and a half before midday”) and on rare occasions to quarter-hours, but it is rare for a person break time down into increments smaller than this. A well-known exception to this is the alchemists, who use an intricate newardin system of timekeeping involving “minutes” and “seconds” to ensure their delicate formulas are properly prepared.
The most common type of clock found around the Amethyst Sea is the sundial. Halflings love them and nearly every halfling home has one in its garden. Water clocks are also available, but they are expensive. Finally, there are mechanical clocks, but these are rare and quite large.
Clock towers are not uncommon in large towns and cities. These towers don’t have a face to read the time, but rather employ bell ringers who use two bells of different tones to ring out “hours before” or “hours after” midday.
There are a few automated clock towers. Most of these are mechanical, although a few are magically driven. The best known automated clock is the Silver Star at Selenthea. Created by the mages of the Silver Circle, it is powered by magic and is said to keep the most perfect time of any clock ever created.
Just as uncommon, but gaining popularity in some circles, are mechanical clocks that use faces to show the time. They display a half circle with a representation of Lensae that moves from one side of the half circle to the other. The half circle is marked with increments spaced equally representing the number of hours with the mid-point of the half circle being midday.
The Aetaltan Calendar
Art & Illustration
- Calendar design by Shawn T. King
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