The Shire month-names

By Arden R. Smith

The Shire month-names are modernized forms of Old English names.

Afteryule Æftera Géola 'after Yule'
Solmath Solmónaþ 'mud-month'
Rethe Hréþmónaþ 'rough-month'
Astron Éastron, pl. of Éastre 'Easter, Passover, spring'
Thrimidge Þrimilcemónaþ 'three-milking-month'
Forelithe Æ'rra Líþa 'before Lithe'
Afterlithe Æftera Líþa 'after Lithe'
Wedmath Wéodmónaþ 'weed-month'
Halimath Háligmónaþ 'holy-month'
Winterfilth Winterfylleþ 'winter-filling'
Blotmath Blótmónaþ 'sacrifice-month'
Foreyule Æ'rra Géola 'before Yule'

Long vowels are here marked with acute accent, since that is how Tolkien generally does it. (Old English dictionaries, grammars, etc. more frequently use macrons.) Æ' here represents Æ with an acute accent. þ is fully interchangable with ð in OE.


Yule is cognate with the Scandinavian word for Christmas, jul, Icelandic form jól. The word was origiginally associated with the Scandinavian period of feasts surrounding the Winter solstice. Yule is still used in English, but its usage is mainly archaic and poetic. It does appear in normal use, however, in the compounds yule-log and yule-tide.

Another explanation for Rethe is given in [1]: 'glory-month'. But that seems less likely, as pointed out by David Salo in TolkLang entry 24.75.

Líþa, the source of the Hobbits' Lithe, was a term used for June and July together, with reference to the mild weather in those months. The word is cognate with German lind 'mild, gentle, balmy'.


  1. Jim Allan (ed.). An Introduction to Elvish. Frome, Somerset: Bran's Head, 1978, p. 227. (Allan also discusses the Bree month-names, which are not included here.)
  2. John R. Clark Hall. A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. Fourth edition with a supplement by Herbert D. Meritt. Cambridge: University Press, 1970.
  3. The Oxford English Dictionary. Second edition prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989, s.v. lithe adj. 2b.

See also

Hwæt! Months & Seasons , a page of Old English in Context by Catherine N. Ball, Department of Linguistics, Georgetown University.

An earlier version of this list was published in TolkLang entry 24.71. Republished here by kind permission of Arden R. Smith.