The Hebrew calendar (often referred to as the Jewish calendar) is one of the most fascinating and complex inventions that has withstood the test of time. Even though it's been around for thousands of years, the ancient tracking system is still used today. It remains one of the most important calendars used for Jewish religious observance in the modern world.

If you've ever wondered how the Hebrew calendar works, here's everything you need to know about what it is and what it's used for.

What is the Hebrew Calendar?

Most calendars are based on the movement of the Earth. The Hebrew calendar is no different, except it's a lunisolar calendar. This means that it uses a combination of the solar and lunar cycles to track time. It's the official calendar of Israel and the Jewish religion.

What is the Hebrew Calendar Used For?

The Hebrew calendar is used to determine three main things:

  • The correct dates for Jewish holidays
  • The appropriate public Torah readings for the holidays
  • The daily psalm readings that should be used at ceremonies

Since it's the official calendar of Israel, every government document must be dated with both the Gregorian and the Hebrew calendar dates.

How Does the Jewish Calendar Work?

The Jewish religion must celebrate the Passover holiday in Spring and Sukkot in Autumn, as per the Torah commandments. The Hebrew calendar works by tracking the days (using both solar and lunar tracking) to enable these holidays to be celebrated on the correct day, in the appropriate season, every year.

The Hebrew calendar monitors both the Earth's rotation around the sun to establish the seasons and the movement of the moon around the Earth to track the days. Seven times every 19 years, the Hebrew calendar has a leap year with 13 months instead of 12.

Since the lunar calendar has 11 days less than the solar calendar annually, the leap year allows the Jewish holidays to be observed in the correct season every year.

How Many Months Are There in the Hebrew Calendar?

Typically, the Hebrew calendar has 12 months. However, sometimes the calendar has a 13th month to adjust itself to the solar year, which is referred to as a leap year. This happens seven times every 19 years, in the same order.

Out of every 19 years, the following years have 13 months instead of 12 and are considered leap years:

  • 3rd
  • 6th
  • 8th
  • 11th
  • 14th
  • 17th
  • 19th

Each month has a different name in the Hebrew calendar than it does in the Gregorian. You can find out which month it is in the Hebrew calendar using this Hebrew date converter.

How Many Days Are There in the Hebrew Calendar?

The number of days in the Hebrew calendar each year depends on whether it's a leap year or not.

On non-leap years, the Hebrew calendar either has 353, 354, or 355 days split over 12 months. Five months of the year always have 29 days, while another five always have 30 days, and the remaining two are different almost every year.

During a leap year, the Hebrew calendar has 13th months and has either 383, 384, or 385 days in the year.

When Did the Hebrew Calendar Start?

The Hebrew calendar started in the year 3761 BC. This is when the Old Testament describes the time the world was created.

What is the Hebrew Date Calculator?

The Hebrew Date Calculator is an online conversion tool that allows you to convert dates from the Gregorian calendar to the Hebrew calendar and vice versa. It allows you to find out what this year is on the Hebrew calendar and what the current month is.

Months in the Jewish Calendar

#MonthNumber of DaysGregorian