Appendix B. Afghan Calendars and Holidays
Life for Afghans is guided by three different calendars: one for identification of religious holidays, one for most of their daily activities, and the third for international relations, which is the one U.S. Soldiers also use. However, while in Afghanistan, U.S. Soldiers also will be affected by the other two Afghan calendars. Awareness of these two calendars is important because they are the calendars Afghans follow.
During your time (using 2010 as an example) in Afghanistan, you will hear and see the Afghans talk about it being year 1388, or possibly year 1430. That is because they do not use the calendar we use. It is important, as you work with the Afghans and plan your activities, to have local calendars to know when their government and religious holidays will occur. Because some holidays are harder to identify, work with your interpreter to identify the holidays.
Three calendars are used in Afghanistan. They are the:
Hejrah-e shamsi Calendar
The Hejrah-e shamsi calendar starts from the year 622 A.D., when the Prophet Mohammad emigrated (hejrah) from Mecca to Medina. It has 12 months, consisting of 29-31 days each. The beginning of the Hejrah-e shamsi Year (1 Hammal) corresponds to 21 March (20 March in leap years) on the Gregorian calendar. The Hejrah-e shamsi Year has 365 days (366 days in leap years). The Hejrah-e shamsi calendar year 1388 corresponds to our year 2010.
Figure B-1. Hejrah-e shamsi calendar
Hejrah-e qamari Calendar
The months in the Hejrah-e qamari calendar are alternatively 30 and 29 days long. In leap years the 12th month has 31 days. The lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar. The Hejrah-e qamari calendar months "Ramadan"and "Shawwal" define Muslim fasting. The first day of each of these months is observed by authorities as a holiday. A difference of one day can occur between the observed and the precomputed calendar. At 30 years, a leap year occurs to synchronize the calendar with the moon phases. The Hejrah-e qamari calendar year 1430 corresponds to our year 2010.
Figure B-2. Hejrah-e qamari calendar
Afghans, like Americans, observe numerous holidays. However, these special days affect operations. The operational tempo may need to be adjusted to balance mission requirements and respect these holidays. Afghans, especially in Kabul, recognize but do not necessarily celebrate two Western holidays: Christmas and New Year's Day.
These Afghan holiday dates align with the Gregorian calendar:
Afghans observe many religious holidays. Unfortunately, unless you have an in-depth understanding of the three calendars used in Afghanistan, these holidays are not easy to identify on the calendar we use, the Gregorian calendar. The following are the major religious holidays as identified on the Hejrah-e-qamari calendar. Have your interpreter assist you in identifying these holidays on your calendar.
These Afghan holidays may align with the Gregorian Calendar:
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012