12 December 2011

[Shared Topic] How Do You Measure a Year in the Life

How about love?

Well, if were all a young, hip, conventionally attractive group of New Yorkers harmonizing our way through life, maybe. Instead we're all ages, footsore, battlescarred, and more likely to break out in brawling than in song. Could we measure a year in war? In raid lockouts, certainly.

This week, inspired by Rioriel of Postcards from Azeroth's question "Other than the general passing of years, there's no defined calendar in Azeroth. What would you name the months?" Danslate of Danslayers asks Blog Azeroth:
Time passes, in real life and in WoW. But except for how long a day and a year are, we know virtually nothing about the calendar in Azeroth. Are there also twelve months in Azeroth as there are here? How long are they? Only because February is 28 days long in the calendars of Western civilizations doesn't mean Azeroth's February has to have the same length.
As there are many different civilizations with their own languages spread throughout Azeroth, what names might the days and months have?
For convenience, Azeroth's year mysteriously adheres to 12 months in familiarly unequal lengths. Even without January, February, etc, I don't think it's impossible for Azerothians to have their own named months. However, their geographical location (or isolation) and lifespan likely led to them developing separate types of measurements for time.

The night elves have been around for a long time. I can see them following a lunar calendar, keeping track of Elune/the moon's phases and visages as the year progresses. On Earth, humans named each full moon according to what was occurring in nature at the time, resulting in names like Snow Moon, Flower Moon, and Harvest Moon. I can definitely see the night elves tying this in with their personification of the moon as Elune. White Face Moon for a clear winter month, Wisp Moon when the Teldrassil wisps are active, Nightsaber Moon when the nightsabers give birth.

In contrast, tauren worship the Earthmother and nomadically follow the hunt, so they would keep track of the seasons closely. The year might be divided more widely into 3rds or 4ths, with the Great Hunt while following their food, Wandering for their migration, and Herdsmeet when they settle in a new location.

Humans, and by extension, Forsaken and worgen, celebrate a host of harvest festivals, so not only do they keep close track of the seasons, but also how that affects their crops. They would likely have seasons like Sowing and Harvest.

Orcs live in an unchanging desert; I think we can assume that whatever system they followed on Draenor has been replaced. As such, they likely turned to the tauren for inspiration. I suspect the draenei did the same with humans.

Trolls live all over Azeroth, and are supposedly related to night elves, so they may pay closer attention to the moon than other Horde races. However, since allying with the Horde, they may follow an agricultural calendar instead.

Gnomes, dwarves, and even goblins all fall into the same category for me. When you're making gold, inventing new ways to get blown up, or mining deep in the earth, what use do you have for the movements of the moon or the changing of the weather? I imagine each race would have its own set of peculiar holidays to base its year around. The different types of materials available / in demand during each season might result in names like Goldlinks, Windfall, and Lightpocket (goblin) and Blastbrows, Silvergear, and Refueling (gnomes). The dwarves' mining might be affected by seasonal changes like snowfall and flooding, leading to names like Tinlichen in wet months or Deep Earth in dry.

As far as the passage of years, it's likely that spring, or its equivalent, would be the start of the year, and people would measure their own age based on how many of X season they had experienced. Major events, especially war, would be good points of reference as well for races that had experienced them. Forsaken likely count from Sylvanas' rebellion, draenei from their various arrivals on planets, humans, orcs, & night elves from their many skirmishes. I like to think that goblins and gnomes divide eras based on their current leader, like the emperor in Japan. Of course, each race may have a unique calendar, but they likely follow the dominant culture in their faction for consistency.


  1. OMG I love that musical. I saw it 2 or 3 times when it played here years ago... couldn't help but sing along to the video there :)

    Nice post, BTW!

  2. These are all such fantastic ideas.

    We sometimes forget that, in lore, Azeroth has two moons, because we only see the one in the sky of the game. I imagine that the relationship between the two moons would also factor into how the native races of Azeroth measure time. They might measure longer divisions of the year based on the time from full to full of one moon, and shorter divisions using the time from full to full of the other moon. I think that they'd probably use the relationship between the moons and the seasons to record things like births and marriages -- "I was born in spring when the White Lady was full and the Blue Child was new."

  3. @bubbles: I love RENT!! I made a pilgrimage to NYC to see it onstage in my last year of high school and it was glorious.

    @kamalia: Ahh, you're right! For some reason I had it in my head that Outlands was the one with multiple moons. You are totally right and I love what you said about how they would influence time measurement.

  4. Great post Aka! I found this shared topic difficult to get my head around but after reading this I understand now what Danslate was trying to ask :)

  5. Great musical accompaniment, I started singing along as soon as I read the post's title. :) And some very nice thoughts regarding the passing of time in WoW.

    I have some ideas, just trying to figure out how best to present them. Hmm...

    Thanks for helping to spark some thoughts. :)

    ~ Effy

  6. @Navi: For some reason I also didn't quite understand; at first I thought it was just about how they would measure time, and when I looked at it again I saw they were asking for specific names of months. Then I had to come up with some ><

    @Effraeti: You're quite welcome! I also can't help but sing whenever RENT comes up...:>

  7. @Navimie / @Akabeko: See, that happens when a linguist formulates a sociolinguistically charged question like this. No one knows what the heck they're talking about. =) I thought, by mentioning both the measuring devices and ask for names that some bloggers who might not feel comfortable with the one could go with the other.

    @Akabeko: Your answer is everything I had hoped for and is quite similar to my own thoughts on the subject (which I am currently writing -- damn uni, have to squeeze in time for my own [and Rioriel's!] shared topic).
    You even thought of things I didn't consider, like the hunting seasons.
    Well done, well done!

  8. @danslayers: I'm glad it lived up to your expectations! I was kinda flailing around this topic but it was a fun thought exercise.