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Monday, May 29, 2023

The Igbo Calendar – Izu Igbo | Igbo heritage

In the Igbo calendar, the Izu Igbo which translates to days of the week in the Igbo language is; Eke, Orie, Afor, and Nkwo. Unlike the Gregorian calendar which has 7 days in a week, the Izu Igbo calendar has 4 days in a week. 

In the Igbo calendar, Onwa(month) has a total of 7 weeks in a month, which makes up 28 days in a month. The months which are mostly named after Igbo gods are known as Ọnwa Mbụ, Ọnwa Abụo, Ọnwa Ife Eke, Ọnwa Anọ, Ọnwa Agwụ, Ọnwa Ifejiọkụ, Ọnwa Alọm Chi, Ọnwa Ilo Mmụọ, Ọnwa Ana, Ọnwa Okike, Ọnwa Ajana, Ọnwa Ede Ajana, Ọnwa Ụzọ Alụsị.  

The Igbo calendar Structure

The calendar also has 13 months in a year, 91 weeks in a year and 364 days in a year. In the last month of the year, an extra day is added. The Igbo calendar is described as ” something not written down but followed”. Although the traditional timekeepers are the priests or Dibia, the calendar is rather being observed in the mind of the people.  

The year in Igbo traditional calendar begins on the third week of February, on the 18th of February.  

No.  Months (Ọnwa)  Gregorian equivalent 
Ọnwa Mbụ  18th February– 17th March 
Ọnwa Abụo  18th March– 14th April 
Ọnwa Ife Eke  15th April– 12th May 
Ọnwa Anọ  13th May– 9th June 
Ọnwa Agwụ  10th June– 7th July 
Ọnwa Ifejiọkụ  8th July– 4th August 
Ọnwa Alọm Chi  5th August– 1st September 
Ọnwa Ilo Mmụọ  2nd September– 29th September 
Ọnwa Ana  30th September– 27th October 
10  Ọnwa Okike  28th October– 24th November 
11  Ọnwa Ajana  25th November– 22nd December 
12  Ọnwa Ede Ajana  23rd December– 19th January 
13  Ọnwa Ụzọ Alụsị   20th January– 17th February 
names of Months in Igbo and their start dates on the Gregorian calendar

 

Eke  Orie  Afọr  Nkwọ 
   
10 
11  12  13  14 
15  16  17  18 
19  20  21  22 
23  24  25  26 
27  28     
An example of a month

Special days on the calendar

The beginning of each year is celebrated with a festival known as Igu Aro. Ọnwa Anọ is when the planting of seed yams starts. Onwa Ife Eke is a month dedicated to the people fasting in sacrificial harmony to the Goddess Ani of the earth. Many communities during this time hosted competitive wrestling events. The new yam festival is celebrated on Onwa Ifejioku 

Each day is assigned as a market day for different communities and towns. For example; in the city of Awka, Eke is the day chosen for market days; Mgbakwu Nkwo day is chosen as the market days; in Ebenebe, the Orie day is chosen as the market days; in Umunya and Onitsha, the Afor day is the chosen as the market days.  

Here’s an example of the market days against a Gregorian Calendar 

AUGUST 2021 
Sun  Mon  Tue  Wed  Thur  Fri  Sat 

Nkwo 

Eke 

Orie 

Afor 

Nkwo 

Eke 

Orie 

Afor 

Nkwo 
10 
Eke 
11
 Orie 
12 
Afor 
13
 Nkwo 
14
 Eke 
15 
Orie 
16 
Afor 
17 
Nkwo 
18
 Eke 
19 
Orie 
20 
Afor 
21
 Nkwo 
22 
Eke 
23 
Orie 
24 
Afor 
25 
Nkwo 
26
 Eke 
27
 Orie 
28 
Afor 
29 
Nkwo 
30 
Eke 
31
 Orie 
       
Here’s an example of the market days against a Gregorian Calendar 

download the 2021 Igbo calendar here

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