Years of the Trees

From Tolkien Gateway
History of Arda
Music of the Ainur
Timeline of Arda
Days before days
Years of the Trees
Years of the Sun
Ages of Middle-earth
First Age (Y.T. 1050 - Y.S. 590)
Second Age (S.A. 1 - 3441)
Third Age (T.A. 1 - 3021)
Fourth Age (Fo.A. 1 - ????)
Later Ages (up to present day)
Dagor Dagorath
Round World version
of The Silmarillion

The Years of the Trees, also called the Days of Bliss (of Valinor) were the long years that lay between the founding of Valinor and its Darkening. During this time, Valinor was lit by the light of the Two Trees, but Middle-earth lay in the Great Darkness.[1]

For the most of its part, the First Age was reckoned in the Years of the Trees,[2]:51[3]:123[4] which were later replaced by much shorter Years of the Sun.[5][6][7]


Trees of Valinor by HelenKei

Long before the Elves awoke, Yavanna created the Two Trees of Valinor to give light to realm of the Valar. The Trees first flowered after 3500 Valian Years (i.e. nearly 35,000 ordinary years) had passed.[2]:51 This period began at the Opening Hour, when Telperion first started to bloom alone; on the second hour, the First Day begun, and with it, the beginning of the Count of Time.[8]

So began a reign of peace in Valinor, but Middle-earth was lit by starlight alone, and Melkor worked in the depths of Utumno in the north of the World and its dominion expanded to the south, while Sauron was appointed lieutenant in Angband, anticipating an assault from the West.[9] It is not told how long this time lasted, just that 'the ages drew on'; this period would have lasted roughly 10,500 years. It was during this period that Aulë made the Dwarves, and at Eru's direction, set them to sleep until the creation of the stars and the Awakening of the Elves. The latter event marked the beginning of the First Age.[2]:51[3]:123

Oromë espies the first Elves by Anke Eißmann

When Oromë discovered that the Elves had awoken at Cuiviénen, great changes came about. The Valar began the Battle of the Powers against Melkor; Utumno was destroyed and Melkor brought in chains to Valinor. The Valar also summoned the Elves to dwell in their land, and many answered this summons.

From the time the three kindreds of the Elves were gathered began the Noontide of the Blessed Realm.[10] A period of three ages (about 2,900 years) followed. Melkor was imprisoned in the Halls of Mandos, and the Valar and Eldar dwelt together in the light of the Trees. In the darkness of Middle-earth, the Dark Elves who had not journeyed to Valinor still dwelt, and the Fathers of the Dwarves stirred. Men would not appear until some time after the end of the Years of the Trees.

These Years came to an end when Manwë released Melkor from his imprisonment. For a time, the Dark Lord pretended friendship with the Eldar, but he turned back to the darkness. After shining for 1495 Valian Years,[2]:51 the trees were destroyed by Ungoliant. During the Long Night, they stole the Silmarils and fled back to the north of Middle-earth. Seeking revenge, Fëanor led a great part of the Noldor out of Valinor and back to Beleriand.

So the Years of the Trees came to an end. At this time, the Valar made the Sun and Moon to give light to the World, and after 5000 Valian Years had passed,[2]:51 the Years of the Sun fo the First Age began.[5]


The schedule of the Valian day can be summarized as:[8][11]

Valian hour Event
Hour 1 Day begins, Telperion's blooming is already on its second phase
Hour 2
Hour 3 Telperion reaches his greatest bloom
Hour 4
Hour 5
Hour 6 Laurelin begins to bloom and the lights of the two trees are mingled; at the end of the hour, Telperion ceases.
Hour 7 Laurelin continues to bloom while Telperion's light remains for some time
Hour 8
Hour 9 Laurelin reaches her greatest bloom
Hour 10
Hour 11
Hour 12 Telperion begins to bloom and the lights of the two trees are mingled; at the end of the hour (and the day), Laurelin ceases.

The Tree temporal units can be summarized as:[2]:59

Valian time units Description Conversion to our time units
1 Valian hour A single segment of the full flowering of both Trees 7 hours of our time
1 Valian day 12 Valian hours or the full flowering of both Trees (7 x 12) 84 hours of our time or 3.5 of our days
1 Valian year 1000 Valian days or 12,000 Valian hours (7 x 12,000) 84,000 hours of our time or 3500 of our days, corresponding (84,000 / 8766) to 9 years, 212 days, 18 hours
1 age of the Valar 100 Valian years (randa)[12] 958 years, 105 days

Other versions of the legendarium

In Tolkien's latest writings where Arda was a round world from its beginning, the Two Trees held the light of the untainted Sun rather than that of the Two Lamps, which did not ever truly exist. In this version of Arda's history, rather than an absence of a Sun or Moon, the darkness that covered Arda was instead due to a great shadow designed by Melkor to spread over the northern lands of Middle-earth, blotting out the light of the Moon and stars and causing day to be a dim twilight at full.[13]

See also

Timeline of the Years of the Trees