“The Lamanites Awoke on the First Morning of the First Month”

Bryan Richards
"With remarkable consistency, the Nephite record reports a pattern of seasonality in Nephite warfare. Since wars in pretechnical societies are usually launched at opportune times of the year, the Nephite pattern of warfare tells us something about the seasons and their calendar.
"The beginning and ending of the Nephite year frequently falls around the time of major battles. For example, Alma 44 ends with the defeat of a Lamanite army and the return of Moroni’s forces to their houses and their lands: ‘Thus ended the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges’ (Alma 44:24). When all such dates are tabulated, the distinct pattern emerges that most wars were fought in the eleventh through second months of the year…But virtually no battling took place in months six through ten. Instead, that period was when the mass of part-time soldiers were required to till the ground, ’delivering their women and their children from famine and affliction, and providing food for their armies’ (Alma 53:7).
"When the seasons for cultivation and warring in Mesoamerica before the time of Columbus are studied, an equally sharp division is seen. (The schedule is essentially the same anywhere in tropical America, in fact.) The preparation and cultivation of farmlands and other domestic chores went on from about March through October, which constituted the rainy season. Wars began after the harvest and mainly went on during the hot, dry months, November through February. Of course, camping in the field was sensible at this time, and movement was least hampered by the swollen streams or boggy ground common in the other part of the year.
"Putting these two sets of information together, we see that the fighting season referred to in the annals of the wars in the books of Mosiah through Helaman—their months eleven through two—likely coincided approximately with November through February in our calendar. Moreover their new year’s day is likely to have fallen near winter solstice (December 21/22), as with many other peoples of the ancient world.
"Interestingly, December was a hot season both in Mesoamerica and in the Book of Mormon, as we read in Alma 51:32-37 and 52:1. Recall that Teancum slew Amalickiah on the Nephite/Lamanite new year‘s eve as he slept deeply from fatigue ’caused by the labors and heat of the day’ (Alma 51:33). In Joseph Smith’s New England, of course, New Year’s Eve would have been icy.
“If our equation is correct, the Nephite [calendar]…began near our December 22…” (John W. Welch, Reexploring The Book of Mormon, pp. 173-5)