Ancient Egypt for Kids - Calendars Illustration

Ancient Egypt for Kids

The ancient Egyptians had many calendars. Each had a purpose.

Ancient Egyptian Inventions: The ancient Egyptians invented the first calendar. It was based on sun cycles. Each year had 13 months. The goal was to match the growing seaons to the calendar for better farming. The sun calendar did not work very well. The ancient Egyptians scientists noticed that using moon cycles fit their seasons and their needs more accurately.

The Growing Season Calendar: The ancient Egyptians recognized 3 seasons - the flooding season, the planting season, and the harvest season. Each season was 3 months long. With the use of moon cycles, the calendar dropped to 12 months per year. Each month had 30 days. That added up to 360 days. The ancient Egyptians noticed they needed a few more days per year to fit the seasons. They added 5 days, holy days, to thank the gods. So, thousands of years ago, the ancient Egyptians invented a calendar with 365 days per year, the same number of days per year that we use today. They also had 12 months in each year, just like us. But there were some differences.

  • The growing season calendar divided the year into 12 months. Each month had 3 weeks. Each week was 10 days long. Each week, people worked 9 days and then had one day off. Plus, there were 5 holy days to balance the seasons and thank the gods.

  •  Yes, there were 365 days in a year. But with each new pharaoh, the year became year 1, then year 2, etc. The ancient Egyptians counted years not in decades or in centuries but in pharaohs.

The Calendar of Lucky and Unlucky Days: The ancient Egyptians believed in omens and dreams and visions and magic. They had a calendar that told them which days were lucky and which days were unlucky. The ancient Egyptians consulted this calendar frequently to keep an eye on their future, so they could adjust their behavior or buy a spell in the marketplace to offset their looming bad luck. Sometimes the calendar explained why it was a bad day or good day, and sometimes it didn't. The following examples are partly made-up and partly real.

  • Example of a bad day: Do not go out on this day. Do not turn your back on the sun. If you were born on this day, you will die from a serpeant.

  • Example of a good day: This is the day the gods received their hearts. It is a good day to do an especially good deed.

Real examples: Calendar of Lucky and Unlucky Days

Celebrating the Seasons, Civil Calendar, Lunar Calendar, Solar Calendar and more

Can you name the farming seasons in ancient Egypt? (interactive game)

Time Keeping and Shadow Clocks

Interactive Quiz about Ancient Egypt (with answers)