Python Dates

A set of examples using Python date and time functions, including formatting dates, date calculations and other bits in datetime package, similar to my string format examples.

First off, all examples use the following import, any additional imports needed will be shown with the example.

from datetime import datetime

Creating Date Objects

# now
now =

# specific date
dt1 = datetime(2011, 8, 29)
dt2 = datetime(year=2012, month=3, day=2)

# create a date from a known format
str = "2012-10-20"
dts = datetime.strptime(str, '%Y-%m-%d')

# create a date from unix timestamp
ts = 1294204471
dtu = datetime.fromtimestamp(ts)

Date Formats

Printing dates in various formats is relatively straight forward, here’s one example. Refer to the table below for available formatting symbols and samples.

print dt1.strftime("%b %d, %Y")
~ Jan 15, 1999
Symbol Definition Example
%a Weekday name abbreviated Sun, Mon, Tue, …
%A Weekday name full Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, …
%b Month name abbreviated Jan, Feb, Mar, …
%B Month name full January, February, …
%c A “random” date and time representation. Fri Jan 15 16:34:00 1999
%d Day of the month [ 01, 31 ]
%f Microsecond [ 000000, 999999 ]
%H Hour (24h) [ 00, 23 ]
%I Hour (12h) [ 01, 12 ]
%j Day of the year [ 001, 366 ]
%m Month [ 01, 12 ]
%M Minute [ 00, 59 ]
%p Locale’s equivalent of either AM or PM. [ AM, PM ]
%S Second [ 00, 61 ]
%U Week number of the year (Sunday first) [ 00, 53 ]
%w Weekday number (Sunday=0) [ 0, 6 ]
%W Week number of the year (Monday first) [0, 53 ]
%x Locale date 01/15/99
%X Locale time 16:34:00
%y Year without century [ 00, 99 ]
%Y Year with century 1999
%z UTC offset in the form +HHMM or -HHMM or empty string
%Z Time zone name or empty string
%% A literal ‘%’ character.

Date Calculations and Timedelta

from datetime import timedelta

week_later = dt + timedelta(days=7)
last_week = dt - timedelta(days=7)
in_five_minutes = dt + timedelta(minutes=5)

Valid timedelta properties are:
weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds, microseconds, milliseconds

You might notice that a “year” timedelta is absent, don’t b tempted to do days=365, this would be off for leap-years. I would recommend something like the following:

st = datetime(year=2011, month=3, day=17)
next_year = datetime(year=st.year+1, month=st.month,

Adding and Subtracting Dates

You can add and subtract date objects when doing so they return timedelta objects. Using the timedelta object, you can access the same properties above.

dt1 = datetime(year=2012, month=8, day=23)
dt2 = datetime(year=2012, month=8, day=28)
td = dt2 - dt1
~ 5

Common Date Functions

Here are a few date functions which are commonly needed, I made the examples a little more explicit so it is easier to follow the calculation, you may want to shorten up some when used.

Last Day of the Month

Two solutions, first using datetime and going to the first day of next month and subtracting a day.

from datetime import timedelta
now =
next_month = datetime(year=now.year, month=now.month+1, day=1)
last_day_month = next_month - timedelta(days=1)

Second solution to determine the last day of the month using the calendar object

import calendar
now =
range = calendar.monthrange(now.year, now.month)
last_day_month = now.replace(day=range[1])

Next Thursday

today =
thursday_dow = 4
today_dow = first_day_of_month.strftime("%w")
adjustment = ( 7 + thursday_dow - int(today_dow)) % 7
next_thursday = today + timedelta(days=adjustment)

First Monday of the Month

today =
first_day_of_month = today.replace(day=1)
day_of_week = first_day_of_month.strftime("%w")
adjustment = (8 - int(day_of_week) ) % 7
first_monday = first_day_of_month + timedelta(days=adjustment)


Hi, I’m Marcus Kazmierczak

Profile Photo I'm an engineer trying to do my small part to make the web a little better. I believe open source can help empower people, and grow our collective knowledge; moving the world forward. I hope this site is a small contribution to that collective.