Xhosa calendar

The following is a list of timekeeping terminology in the Xhosa language.

Month names

Traditional

The traditional names for months come from names of plants or flowers that grow or seasonal changes that happen at a given time of year. They are:

EnglishXhosaExplanation of the months
JanuaryEyoMqungumonth of the Tambuki Grass
FebruaryEyoMdumbamonth of the swelling grain
MarchEyoKwindlamonth of the first fruits
AprilUTshazimpunzimonth of the withering pumpkins
MayUCanzibemonth of Canopus
JuneEyeSilimelamonth of the Pleiades
JulyEyeKhala / EyeNtlabamonth of the aloes
AugustEyeThuphamonth of the buds
SeptemberEyoMsintsimonth of the coast coral tree
OctoberEyeDwarhamonth of the lilypad
NovemberEyeNkangamonth of the small yellow daisies
DecemberEyoMngamonth of the Acacia tree

Gregorian months

The Xhosa months of the year are poetically named after stars and seasonal plants of Southern Africa. The Xhosa year traditionally began in June and ended in May, when Canopus, the brightest star visible in the Southern Hemisphere, signalled the time for harvesting. In urban areas today, anglicised versions of the months are used, especially by the younger generation. But in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape – the old names still stand.

  • January - EyoMqungu (month of the Tambuki Grass)
  • February - EyoMdumba (month of the swelling grain)
  • March - EyoKwindla (month of the first fruits)
  • April - uTshaz'iimpuzi (month of the withering pumpkins)
  • May - EyeCanzibe (month of Canopus)
  • June - EyeSilimela (month of the Pleiades)
  • July - EyeKhala (month of the aloes)
  • August - EyeThupha (month of the buds)
  • September - EyoMsintsi (month of the coast coral tree)
  • October - EyeDwarha (month of the tall yellow daisies)
  • November - EyeNkanga (month of the small yellow daisies)
  • December - EyoMnga - (month of the acacia§ thorn tree)

Days of the week

  • Sunday - iCawe
  • Monday - uMvulo
  • Tuesday - uLwesibini
  • Wednesday - uLwesithathu
  • Thursday - uLwesine
  • Friday - uLwesihlanu
  • Saturday - uMgqibelo

Seasons

See also

Further reading

  • Kirsch et al., Clicking with Xhosa, David Phillip Publishers, Cape Town, 2001, p. 43f.
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