It is universally accepted that the Slavs were an utterly uncivilized people that had neither alphabet nor calendar, a people that offered human sacrifice to their gods and behaved, in general, like savages. Unfortunately, this attitude towards the Slavs is still popular today, and for that reason the “civilized” world is persistently trying to “civilize” this “barbarian” people. Historical facts, on the other hand, prove the opposite: the Slavs were neither barbarian nor were they unfamiliar with alphabet and calendar and other achievements of the civilized world. Cyril and Methodius, in their attempt to spread literacy among the Southern Slavs, encountered an already established alphabet, the so-called “dashes and notches”, the term used by Black Cassock the Brave. This alphabet could be called “velesovica” (the infamous Book of Veles was written down using this alphabet), the Vinca alphabet or the Slavic runes. However we choose to call this alphabet, its historical existence is irrefutable, and the same goes for the existence of the Slavic calendar. Even before physical evidence of the existence of the Slavic calendar was found, there was an assumption that it existed. Nenad Jankovic, the researcher, thought that the traces of this calendar could be found in folklore literature, legends and customs. Pagan festivities are another proof that there was also a calendar. In 1958, in the village called Lepesovka in Ukraine, fragments of pottery with engraved old Slavic calendar were found. The pottery is assumed to be about seventeen centuries old, the same as the jug found in Romaski village near Kiev that also had the calendar engraved.
How did the old Slavic calendar look like? It had solar characteristics, the conclusion we can draw by analyzing the drawings of the pottery found in Leposovka. Ribakov deciphered the symbols drawn in the calendar, which turned out to be the symbols of the solstices and the twelve months of the solar year. As we know, the lunar year has thirteen months, each month having 28 days – the duration of one lunar cycle. Opposed to the lunar year is the solar one, which consists of twelve months. We have already mentioned that the Slavs respected the solar principle above all – The Book of Veles offers a convincing proof of this. It therefore comes as no surprise that the old Slavic calendar was based on the yearly movements of the Sun and its position in relation to the Earth.
The names of Slavic months were, above all, the terms that described the nature of each month in the simplest possible way. So the month named Ljuti (“angry”) denoted the period of bitter winter, whereas Zarki (“scorching”) was the warmest summer month. The following list starts with the coldest and ends with the first winter month.
Apart from the names given above, other terms were also used: Prosinac, Lipenj, Secenj, Zetvar and many others. In Serbian calendar these names were substituted by Roman terms, but some other Slavic languages kept their original terms.
Researches from many Slavic countries have lately been trying to reconstruct the old Slavic calendar. In his book The Slavic Astrology, Alexander Asov, the expert from Russia, presented his version of the calendar that is based on the movements of the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, and the system of Russian pagan and Christian holidays. Like the old Roman calendar, this one also starts with the spring solstice, which Asov called 1st Belojar. The solstices and equinoxes had a very important place in the calendar, since the Slavs in the times of paganism celebrated these dates as holidays (Koljada, Maslenica and Kupalo). Asov actually just followed the path set up by Slavic magician Bus Belojar, a half-mythical person mentioned in The Book of Veles. The calendar’s basis was established in the 4th century BC, when the legendary Bus Belojar made the calendar containing both Christian and Slavic pagan elements.
by Vesna Kakaševski
translation by Snježana Todorović