THE ISRAELITE SAMARITAN CALENDAR
See FESTIVALS for significant dates in this year’s Israelite Samaritan calendar.
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.)
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.
Choir and MUSIC
Photography: Ori Orhof
The Schøyen Collection of manuscripts includes a Samaritan calendar (MS 1999) from 1339-1340 CE.