Friday, April 12, 2013

Primstaven, our ancient calendar.


Have you ever heard of Primstaven?


The word prim comes from latin and was a commonly known word for calendar. (This is my very short version of a looong explanation.) Stav is the same as stick and most primstaver were made as sticks.
The experts are not sure but they think it might be even older than the Runecalendar which is known from back in  the 1200's. Primstaven is a flat or rounded woodstick with one mark for each day (almost) and a variety of special signs to remind people of different things. One thing were special using Primstaven as a calendar, the same one could be used year after year after year.

I have always been facinated by old times, what things ment for people back then and how they behaved according to their beliefs, and also how it affects us today.
Many people also called Primstaven,  Messedagsstaven. Which means something like The Mass-day stick, because of all the special signs. They were made in remembrance of different Saints in the Catholic Church.
There are less than a thousand known original Primstaver left in Scandinavia.

This year I'll  write a series of posts looking at Primstaven and what it ment to people. I'm no expert, and I'm not that interested in Catholic Saints but people made the signs fit into their lives and work and that's quite another issue. After the Reformation ( year1500) people more and more forgot about the Catholic Saints and gave a different meaning to the signs. I've heard it said that Primstaven also could be used as a farmers calendar.

Way back in time they divided the year into two halves, Summertime and Wintertime.

Summer was like this:
April 14th- May 13th  was the first month of  summer    April 14th was also known as first day of summer.
May 14th- June 12th           second
June 13th- July 13th            third
July 14th-  August 12th       fourth                              July 14th was also known as midsummer.
Aug. 13th- Sept. 11th         fifth
Sept. 12th- Oct.13th          sixth

 Summer side

Winter was like this:
Oct. 14th- Nov. 12th was the first month of  winter.        October 14th was known as the first day of winter.
Nov. 13th- Dec. 12th             second
Dec.13th- Jan.11th                 third
Jan.12th- Feb.11th                 fourth                           January 12th was known as midwinter.
Feb. 12th- Mars 13th             fifth
Mars 14th- Apr. 13th             sixth

 Winter side

In summertime the work began with sunrise and ended with sunset. Summer were the time for production and storage.
In winter the work began with dawn and ended when the darkness appeared. Winter were the time for consuming.
I'm sorry if this was boring, but I felt it needed to be said.

What I intend to do from here, is to have a look at the special signs, how people made them fit their own lives, and I'll paint my interpretation of the signs as well.
April 14th. will be the first day of posting, and then new posts will appear as they do in the Primstav.

Most of the text I've found on the internet. And most from here, here,and here.

You are welcome to ask questions if there is anything you want to know. I'll answer as good as I can.


  1. There's are really interesting - it would be fine to try and make something similar - although not too sure what it would be made from.

  2. sounds very interesting and I have never heard of that, see I learn something new everyday