Months, weeks, days Years – Time has been measured and marked in different ways around the globe, so do you wonder that where do these month names come from? Why is there a total of twelve months?
These fundamental questions and their answers play a huge role in the happenings of our lives. So there are three sources: Roman and Greek deities, Roman rulers, festivals and numbers. Though we use our modern system which is quite different from the ancient Romans here we’ll take a look at that how and why Romans gave these names to months, which became a great contribution to our modern calendar from ancient Romans.
Surprisingly January was not always been first in the month series! Ancient years used to start with March but Roman rulers changed it later and named it after the god Janus of Romans who’s a protector of doorways and gates also known as the god of beginnings, which Seems befitting for the first month of the New Year. Also, he is depicted with two faces, as one of them is looking into the past and other is looking into the future.
A period of celebration usually held at the end of the year was later turned into a whole month of its own, the Latin word februa, means “to cleanse.”In Roman calendar month of Februarius was named for Februalia, a festival of purification and cleaning that took place during this period. All the men, wearing goat-skin cape, run around Rome’s sacred boundary, this ancient run was designed to purify the city.
Roman god of war, Mars became the reason of nomenclature of this month because March was the first month of the New Year in ancient Rome and the months of January and February were added later.
March was also a time of many festivals and thus Romans demanded that all wars cease during the time of festivities and celebration between the old year and New Year.
Name April is taken from the Latin word aperio, “to open (bud),” like flowers do in spring!) Because blooming season begins in this month. In the nutshell, this month was considered as spring’s renewal.
It is also supposed to be named after another Greek goddess Aphrodite. The Greek goddess of love and beauty. She is identified with the roman goddess venus.
May is named for the Roman goddess Maia, whose keeper of the growth of the crop and greens, also from the Latin word maiores, means “elders,” who were celebrated during this month. Maia was viewed as an earth goddess, which shows the connection with this springtime in the month.
The popular month of weddings June is named after the Roman goddess Juno, queen of gods and patroness of marriage, childbirth and the well-being of women. Also sometimes it is referred from the Latin word juvenis means young people.
In the honour of Roman dictator Julius Caesar (100 B.C. – 44 B.C.) July, the month was given its name, after his death. In 46 (B.C.) the dictator made one of his greatest contributions to history: With the help of Sosigenes, he created the Julian calendar, the precursor to the Gregorian calendar we use today.
Named after the first Roman emperor (and grandnephew of Julius Caesar), Augustus Caesar comes from the Latin word “augustus,” means majestic and noble.
Fun fact – August was originally named as “Sextillia,” which was Latin for “sixth” As per the earlier order of months.
September is taken from the Latin word called septem, meaning “seven,” as it was earlier considered as the seventh month of the ancient Roman calendar.
This name comes from octo, the Latin word for “eight” .But when the Romans converted it to a 12-month calendar, they tried renaming it, but the name October stuck!
The month was called Winmonath, in old England, which means “wine month” as in this time of year wine was made. English used to consider it Start of winter as well and call it “Winterfylleth” or Winter Full Moon.
November comes from the Latin word novem, which in English means “nine,” because this was early considered by romans as the ninth month of the roman year.
Being considered as the tenth month of the ancient roman calendar year name December has been taken from Latin word “decem” means “ten”, and with this we can find the one common thing in both modern and ancient roman calendar as they both end their year with December.
Another fun fact that the word “month” is taken from the Proto-Germanic word for “moon”. It was Julius Caesar’s researchers and astronomers who explained that why we need twelve months and leap year so that time can be synchronized with seasons which is why he added January and February to the calendar. In the year 1582, Pope Gregory revised the Julian calendar and became the “Gregorian” calendar most of the world use today!