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Newsletter 10-64
September 2010

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.


Afghan Calendars

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 (Solar Islamic), Afghanistan's official calendar.
  • Hejrah-e qamari calendar (Lunar Islamic), used for religious holidays.
  • Gregorian calendar (Solar Christian), used mainly in international relations.


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.



Month Number

Dari
(Hejrah-e shamsi)

Pashtu
(Hejrah-e shamsi)

English
(Gregorian)

Number of Days

1

Hammal

Wray

March-April

31

2

Saur

Ghwayai

April-May

31

3

Jauza

Gargholai

May-June

31

4

Saratan

Chungash

June-July

31

5

Asad

Zmarai

July-August

31

6

Sonbola

Wazhay

August-September

30

7

Mizan

Talah

September-October

30

8

Aqrab

Larum

October-November

30

9

Qaus

Lindah

November-December

30

10

Jadi

Merghumai

December-January

30

11

Dalw

Salwagah

January-February

30

12

Hut

Kab

February-March

29


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.



Month Number

Arabic
(Hejrah-e qamari)

Pashtu
(Hejrah-e qamari)

Number of Days

1

Muharram

Muharram

30

2

Safar

Safar

29

3

Rabi' al-Awal

Rabi'1

30

4

Rabi' al-Thaani

Rabi'2

29

5

Jumada al-Awal

Jumada1

30

6

Jumada al-Thaani

Jumada2

29

7

Rajab

Rajab

30

8

Sha'ban

Sha'ban

29

9

Ramadan

Ramadan

30

10

Shawwal

Shawwal

29

11

Zul al-Qi'dah

Z.Qi'dah

30

12

Zul al-Hijjah

Z.Hijjah

29 (31 in leap years)


Figure B-2. Hejrah-e qamari calendar




Holidays

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.


Public Holidays

These Afghan holiday dates align with the Gregorian calendar:

  • Friday-Afghans refer to Friday as a holiday. It is a day off work with the morning for religious services.
  • Victory Day (28 April [27 April in leap years])-celebrating the end of the pro-Soviet regime in 1992.
  • Independence Day (19 August [18 August in leap years])-celebrating the end of the British Empire's three attempts to rule Afghanistan


Religious Holidays

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.

  • Ashura. The day the Prophet Mohammad's grandson, Husayn, was killed at the battle of Kerbala. It is celebrated on the 10th day of the Hejrah-e qamari month of Muharram.
  • Prophet Mohammad's birthday. Celebrated on the 12th day of the Hejrah-e qamari month Rabi' al-Awal.
  • First of Ramadan. Celebrated at the 1st of the Hejrah-e qamari month Ramadan and marks the beginning of the fasting month Ramadan.
  • Night of Measure-Muslims believe this was the night God sent down the first verses of the Quran via the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammad. It is also the anniversary of the night in which the Quran was first communicated in its entirety to Mohammad. There is uncertainty about the exact date. It is believed the night is in the last third of the Hejrah-e qamari month Ramadan.
  • Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan). Eid is the Arabic word for feast. The holiday is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, at the 1st of the Hejrah-e qamari month Shawwal. Celebrations extend up to three days.
  • Arafat. Celebrated one day before Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) on the 9th of the Hejrah-e qamari month Zul al-Hijjah. It marks when the Prophet Mohammad delivered his farewell sermon at the end of his life on the mountain of Arafat also known as Jabal ar-Rahmah (Mountain of Mercy).
  • Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Qurban (Festival of Sacrifice). Commemorates the Prophet Abraham's devotion to God and is celebrated on the 10th of the Hejrah-e qamari month Zul al-Hijjah. Celebrations extend up to three days.


Other Holidays

These Afghan holidays may align with the Gregorian Calendar:

  • New Year. The Hejrah-e shamsi year starts on 1st Hammal (20 March, 21 March in leap years) and is celebrated all over Afghanistan. This is the most festive holiday celebrated by the Afghans.
  • As established by Afghan law.

 


 

Last Reviewed: May 18, 2012

 
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