Zulu calendar

The Zulu calendar is the traditional lunar calendar used by the Zulu people of South Africa. Its new year begins at the new moon of uMandulo(September) in the Gregorian calendar.

The Zulu calendar is divided into two seasons, the summer iHlobo and Winter ubuSika. The lunar seasonal calendar has 13 months that do not correspond to the months of the Gregorian calendar.

Twelve of the lunar months (inyanga) of the Zulu calendar have around 28 days. Zulu names for the lunar months are based on observations of nature and seasonal activities. A 13th intercalary month (iNdida) lasts four to five days.

According to Keith Snedegar, consensus was used to settle arguments over the correct month, which arose around every three years when the 12 lunar months failed to correspond to their natural markers. The extra month was sometimes referred to as Ndid'amDoda (the month that puzzles men). Scottish Free Kirk missionary James Macdonald wrote that the confusion was settled with heliacal rising of Pleiades, which is associated with the month of uNhlangulana.

Months (Izinyanga Zonyaka)extra notes in zulu language

Month Zulu name extra notes
January uMasingana
(let us search)
May refer to searching for ripening crops or pumpkins.
February uNhlolanja
(inspecting dogs)
This is when dogs begin mating, and owners inspect which dogs are gestating.
March uNdasa
This is when food is more abundant.
April uMbasa
(sweeping the threshing grounds)
This is when cattle are satiated, lying down in the ground and appearing sick.
May uNhlaba
(aloe plant)
This is when the aloe plants start to bloom.
June uNhlangulana
This is when winds blow leaves off trees and the ground.
July uNtulikazi/uMaquba
(with dusts)
This is the month when the winds blow up dust.
August uNcwaba
New grass after veld-burning
September uMandulo
Start of the farming season. Formerly known as uMpandu, but its name was changed to uMandulo out of respect for King Mpande.
October uMfumfu
(Krossland Ndiweni)
May refer to the blooming of flowers, or the growth of maize and sorghum.
November uLwezi
(a species of froghopper)
This is because of the influx of insects that feast on spring leaves
December uZibandlela
(ignore the path)
May refer to grass growing over the roads and confusing travelers.


See also

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