Animals of the French Revolutionary Calendar

I was having a weird conversation the other day about the animals of this calendar, and when I needed a break from other things, I decided to write it all down.

What is this calendar, anyway? You know how the French Revolution involved making everything metric? Well, at the same time, they tried making a (semi-)metric calendar. It has 12 months, each with three weeks, and each week with 10 days. Then there’s “complementary days” in-between each year: 5 days most years, 6 days on Leap Year. Which suits my personal tendency towards clear systems.

But it also has this charming feature of each month being named for the weather or other seasonal feature, and each day (really: every single day!) being named for something that matches the time of year. Apparently 18th century France and 21st century western Washington are remarkably similar in what grows when, as I’m often seeing a day come up right when that thing is blooming or fruiting. I got to take pictures of daffodils and lilacs in my yard on their days this spring, blackberry day was just a couple of weeks ago, and plum day is next week. On the other hand, some of the plants aren’t at all familiar: they never came to the New World, or this far west, or they have other names. So it’s a great little nature learning experience.

Also, as a fantasy story/game nerd, I think one could do a whole lot worse than starting with this for creating a fantasy calendar!

Most days are plants (minerals in the winter), but Quintidi is always an animal, and these are they.

Vendemiaire (Grape Harvest: Sept/Oct)
Horse, Donkey, Ox

Brumaire (Foggy: Oct/Nov)
Goose, Turkey, Pheasant

Frimaire (Frost: Nov/Dec)
Pig, Roe Deer, Cricket

Nivose (Snowy: Dec/Jan)
Dog, Rabbit, Cat

Pluviose (Rainy: Jan/Feb)
Bull, Cow, Hare

Ventose (Windy: Feb/Mar)
Billygoat, Goat, Tuna

Germinal (Germination: Mar/Apr)
Hen, Bee, Pigeon

Floreal (Flowering: Apr/May)
Nightingale, Silkworm, Carp

Prairial (Meadow: May/June)
Duck, Quail, Tench (a fish)

Messidor (Harvest: June/July)
Mule, Chamois, Guinea Fowl

Thermidor (Heat: July/Aug)
Ram, Ewe, Otter

Fructidor (Fruitful: Aug/Sept)
Salmon, Trout, Crayfish


  1. The calendar starts on September 22, so basically on the Autumn Equinox.
  2. Quintidi is literally Five-Day. Décadi, or 10-Day, is a tool or similar agricultural object. This week Décadi is Windmill Day. (I probably won’t make a list.)
  3. I got all of this info from Jacobin Calendar, which has both daily Tweets and a lovely printed calendar. I discovered it by somewhat happy coincidence around the same time that I was listening to the French Revolution episodes of The Revolutions Podcast.

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