A Year And A Day YKTTW Discussion

A Year And A Day
A year and a day constitutes an important passage of time
(permanent link) added: 2011-12-13 16:35:56 sponsor: Goldfritha (last reply: 2011-12-26 11:37:57)

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I'll sit and mourn all at her grave
For a twelvemonth and a day.
The twelvemonth and a day being up,
The dead began to speak:
"Oh who sits weeping on my grave,
And will not let me sleep?"

The time span of a year and a day has many situations -- legal and magical -- where it is significant. For one thing, it sounds impressive, being more sonorous than merely a year. For another, it's been used in Real Life.

Compare Celestial Deadline, When the Planets Align. This can but need not start or end at a significant time, only the passage counts.


  • In The Unquiet Grave, the dead lover objects to mourning that lasts any longer.
  • "All Around My Hat" is another folk song that uses this motif. The singer promises to wear a willow around his hat for a year and a day in memory of his lover who's been transported (presumably to Australia).

  • In Susan Dexter's The Wind-Witch, the widow must hold her husband's lands for a year and a day to claim them.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, Lilith tells Miranda that freeing the elves from their oaths to Hell means nothing if the elf does not lay claim to his freedom within a year and a day.
    • It also takes a Handmaiden a year and a day to get the Water of Life from a well.
  • In Septimus Heap, a ghost must remain in the place they died for a year and a day.
  • In Gawain And The Green Knight, this is the length of time that passes between Gawain chopping the Green Knight's head off and when he has to go let the Green Knight chop off his head in turn. Also, in some versions of the Quest for the Holy Grail, the Knights of the Round Table agree to search for it for a year and a day, though some take a lot longer getting home.
  • In the Aiel civilisation of the Wheel of Time series, a warrior who was captured would become gai'shain, basically a servant, for a year and a day.
  • In Dark Lord of Derkholm, the Elf Talithan offers to serve Derk for a year and a day in exchange for one of the winged horses the latter breeds.
  • In "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear, the title characters "sailed away for a year and a day / to the land where the bong tree grows".
  • In the comic fairy story "Prince Delightful and the Flameless Dragon" by Isaac Asimov, Prince Delightful goes a-travelling for a year and a day, and it's lampshaded that in this fairy story universe journeys always last a year and a day.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell one of the footnoted stories describes the Raven King disappearing for a year and a day. It's very much in keeping with the magical, mythic atmosphere around him.
  • RangersApprentice: Halt is banished this way.
  • The original Where The Wild Things Are sort of has this. Max's return voyage is "over a year", "in and out of weeks", and "through a day".

Tabletop RPG
  • Earthdawn.
    • Blood Magic charms with a specific duration usually last for a year and a day. This includes extending the duration of some spells.
    • Several creatures created by Horrors exist for a year and a day.
    • The benefits from a number of Talents last for a year and a day, including Book Memory, Empathic Sense and Lasting Impression.
    • Pattern Items
      • If a Core Pattern Item is destroyed, it will be automatically recreated after a period of time, which can be up to a year and a day.
      • In order to become a Core Pattern Item, a Major Pattern Item must have existed for at least a year and a day.
    • A Horror Mark lasts for a year and a day. At the end of that time the Horror can renew the Mark for the same period of time.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons slain familiars and Blackguard pets may be replaced after this time, a deity must work for this long to change the traits of his domain and purifying an area of taint using the optional rules for taint. Likely more examples outside the SRD.

Real Life
  • A year and a day has been used in many legal situations.
    • In common law countries, it was held until quite recently that a death could not be murder if the victim died more than a year and a day after the events that the death was attributed to.
    • It is the minimum sentence a felon can receive in some jurisdictions.
    • In medieval Europe, serfs who lived in a free city (or at least avoided being found and brought back to their lord's estate) for this period became free. Among other literary references, this is noted in the Cadfael short story "The Price of Light".
    • The Other Wiki has some more Real Life examples of A Year And A Day.

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