THE ISRAELITE SAMARITAN CALENDAR

See FESTIVALS for significant dates in this year’s Israelite Samaritan calendar.

calendar
The First Day of the Seventh Month

Dates of the Samaritan Passover Sacrifice on Mount Gerizim

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Monday 10 April 2017

Sunday 29 April 2018

Thursday 18 April 2019

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Dates confirmed by

Priest Yakkiir (‘Aziz) ben High Priest Jacob ben ‘Azzi,
Kiryat Luza, Mount Gerizim
See also Festivals for more information on the associated readings and prayers

See also Tours for details of visitors’ accommodation on Mount Gerizim

The Jewish and Samaritan Calendars

The Jewish and Samaritan calendars are similar, though the starting years of the two systems differ.

Whereas the Jewish calendar is calculated from the first year of creation, the Samaritan calendar starts from the year the people entered the Promised Land with Joshua bin-Nun. The entry into the Promised Land took place at the beginning of the sixth month (equivalent to September), while the Jewish year starts in Aviv, the first month. Consequently, the leap years in both calendars are not synchronised, and after a cycle of nineteen years the Seven Israelite Samaritan Festivals fall one month after the corresponding Jewish festival.

Thus, a Samaritan festival takes place up to 30 days after the corresponding Jewish festival, although sometimes both festivals take place on the same day. And sometimes the Samaritans celebrate one or two days before the Jews. (Because, in certain years, when the festival falls close to the Sabbath, the Jews add one day to the month of Kislev.)

Calendar Calculation

Traditionally, the Samaritan calendar was calculated from observations of the birth of the moon, made on Mount Gerizim. In the 20th century the late High Priest Avraham b. Pinchas transferred the responsibility for the calculation to a computer algorithm – by this means the calculation is said to be accurate to one second in a million years.

The High Priest confirms the calculation and produces a printed version twice a year. He distributes these 6-monthly calendars to every male member of the community over 20 years old, 60 days before Passover and 60 days before Sukkot. The ‘fee’ for the calendar is one-half shekel, valued today at 5 New Israel Shekels.

 

Benyamim Tsedaka

 

Samaritan HISTORY

 

Choir and MUSIC

 

Samaritan RELIGION

 

Samaritan FESTIVALS

 

Photography: Ori Orhof

 

The Schøyen Collection of manuscripts includes a Samaritan calendar (MS 1999) from 1339-1340 CE.

 

Calendar

 

21 Responses

  1. William

    I have a question regarding “Our sages fixed the date of Passover in the calendar so that it will not be earlier than April 8”. Having spent some time examining the Samaritan calendar, it seems to me that the new year is always after the vernal equinox, but the vernal equinox is fixed at March 25. Why did the sages not factor in the drift of the equinox over time? Today the equinox lands on March 20/21. If there is a new moon between the true equinox and March 25, (as will happen in 2020), you end up waiting until the second full moon after the true equinox to start the new year. Also, in describing a rule whereby April 8 on the Gregorian calendar is the earliest date Passover can be, isn’t that making your calendar fixed to and dependent on a foreign calendar? This seems questionable to me. I guess I just don’t understand why the calendar is not calculated according to the true vernal equinox.

  2. Joshua

    Hello, I am currently searching for the calendar that would be the most accurate calendar that would meet the requirements for the feast days, and I am very confused on why Passover for 2020 would be in May? Was a leap month added? And if so, could you explain why?

  3. Henry Tetreault

    Is the Samaritan calendar similar to the Karaites? The Karaites claim to have the original calendar predating the Hillel II Rabbinic Calendar Which is precalculated.

    The Karaites claim they have the original calendar since they observe each moon and the Aviv of the annual Barley thus they don’t precalculate their calendars.

    So is your calendar more similar to the Karaites or towards the traditional Rabbinic calendar?

    • Benyamim Tsedaka

      Dear Henry,

      Neither the Rabbinic nor the Karaite Calendars. We have our own calculation of the calendar.

      If you like, in a couple of month I will send you the new one which starts with the Month of Spring, the first month of the Hebrew Year.

    • Benyamim Tsedaka

      Shalom Sam,

      The Hebrew calendar starts in the First Month. The Israelite Samaritan calendar is based on the number of years since the People of Israel entered the Promised Land. That event took place in the sixth month of the Hebrew year, so Samaritan year 3656 will start later this year, in the 6th month of the Hebrew calendar.

  4. Dudi

    Shalom,

    I’d like to know wich event starts the first year, according to the Samaritan calendar, how many mounths, days by month and today we are in what year?

    Thanks!

  5. Marsha

    The New Moon is to occur this week, beginning 13 September 2015
    When did or will the Samaritans view the New Moon to begin their new month in mid September, the 13, 14, or 15th 2015?

  6. JaredMithrandir

    Is 1985 one of the years the Samaritans were keeping the Festivals a Month later? If so I was born during Sukkot since I was born on October 31st 1985, and the Hebrew Calendar had the 15th of the 8th Month the day before that.

    • Benny

      Shalom Jared. I apologise for the delay in my reply; it is a busy time of festivals and preparations for my international tour. It should always be the 15th of the Seventh Month, never in the Eighth Month. Your birth is undoubtedly in a leap year.

  7. Åsmund Knutson Aukland

    I visited the succot at Garizim 1985 together with my friend Jan Ranterud. Benyamim Tzdaka was our guide. Since then I have kept the moedim by the Samaritan calendar. Since I live in Norway I have kept it according to my local observations. Correct me if I am wrong. The Pesach is in the night of the first full moon after vernal equinox and that night is the beginning of the Chag ha Matzot and is the 15th of Aviv. From the shabbat within the week of the moed I count 7 shabbats to the day after the 7th shabbat, which is a sunday. The 7th full moon after the vernal equinox is the 15th day of the 7th month and is the first day of Chag ha Succot. The first day of that month is the Yom ha Truah, and its 10th day is Yom ha Kippurim when I don’t eat or drink. Is this right according to the calendar of ha Shamarimal ha Emet?

    • Benny

      Shalom Åsmund,

      I am happy to hear from you and Jan. Of course I remember you and wish to visit your community in Norway 21-23 October 2014.

      With regard to the hagim your note is correct.

  8. Cheryl

    Shalom,

    I am really trying to understand the calendar but there are so many out there. I have read that the Samaritan calendar is the most accurate and has been the same for over 2000 years. I know the Jewish calendar was changed by Hillel and there is an added month called Adar 1. Is this extra month also in your calendar? I would really appreciate any help you can give me because I really want to know.

  9. Zvi

    The Torah commands in Devarim 16:1, “Keep the New Moon of Aviv [the phase before the last in barley’s ripening]. You shall observe Passover to YHWH your God, for in the New Moon of Aviv YHWH your God took you out of Egypt, at night.”. Evidently the original meaning of the word ‘Aviv’ was not the season of the year known as “Spring” which was a meaning created by Jewish rabbis in the Middle Ages. So, how come you Samaritans do not obey this commandment in the most logical manner which entails searching for a sufficient amount of Aviv barley throughout the Land of Israel a few days in March to find out whether the barley has reached the Aviv phase or not, and if this amount is found, then the next month will be deemed “Hodesh haAviv”? You have told me about 2-3 Jews who have validated your calendar in a manner of speaking, but I still do not understand the Samaritans own logic in effectively disregarding the Aviv’s correct meaning.

    • Hannah

      Benny replies: the Month of Aviv, or in Ancient Hebrew, Ebbeb, is another name for the First Month. This is obvious from the story of the Exodus in the Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. It is also the name of the plant. Our sages fixed the date of Passover in the calendar so that it will not be earlier than April 8. As for the Aviv plant, it has already been confirmed in various places around the Land of Israel that the timing is more appropriate to the Samaritan Calendar. In general we have not owned rural lands for hundreds of years, but nevertheless, for many hundreds of years, the calculation of our calendar has been found to be more accurate than other systems of calendar calculation.

    • Orlando Ordoñez Chavarro

      Cómo obtengo un Calendario del pueblo Israelita Samaritano. Como obtuvo el suyo? Puede orientarme? Es muy importante en mi búsqueda de la verdad!
      Atentamente:
      Orlando Ordoñez Chavarro
      orlandoordoezchavarro@yahoo.com
      Tel 098-872 4388 y 098-310 550 5976
      Ciudad: Neiva,
      País: Colombia

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