Labours of the month

Calendar illustration

Psalters, Breviaries and Books of Hours opened with a Calendar listing the religious events to be celebrated in the course of the year. Some other types of information, e.g. deaths in the family or suitable days for bloodletting, could also be contained in its text. In more luxurious copies of these texts, Calendar could be illustrated. This illustration usually consisted of two parts: the signs of the Zodiac and a survey of seasonal, mostly agricultural, activities. These are traditionally called the 'Labours of the Month'. For the gallery below, we have selected a typical activity for each month. Variations can be found by clicking the invitation to see more images.

January: a man dining and warming himself at a fire

January: a man dining and warming himself at a fire -More images

February: a man chopping wood

February: a man chopping wood -More images

March: a man pruning vines

March: a man pruning vines -More images

April: a woman holding a wreath of flowers

April: a woman holding a wreath of flowers -More images

May: a pair of lovers, walking

May: a pair of lovers, walking -More images

June: a man picking fruits

June: a man picking fruits -More images

July: a man reaping corn and a woman binding sheaves

July: a man reaping corn and a woman binding sheaves -More images

August: two men threshing

August: two men threshing -More images

September: a mean treading grapes

September: a mean treading grapes -More images

October: one man sowing, another one knocking acorns out of oak-trees

October: one man sowing, another one knocking acorns out of oak-trees -More images

November: a man slaughtering a pig

November: a man slaughtering a pig -More images

December: a man slaughtering a pig and singeing off his bristles

December: a man slaughtering a pig and singeing off his bristles -More images