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The not so known history of the months of the year
January 23, 2023
We all know what the months of the year are because we learn them in kindergarten. But did you know that all month names have a meaning? All the months were named by the Romans in 45 B.C.
The early Roman calendar was introduced by Romulus around 700 B.C. The original months were Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December, with the last 6 being named from five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten.
The calendar we use today was authorized by Pope Gregory XIII and adopted by most Roman Catholic countries in 1582. It is called the Gregorian Calendar. Julius Caesar initially implemented the calendar in 46 B.C. but due to a miscalculation in the emperor’s system when measuring the measuring of the solar year, the calendar fell out its sync with the seasons.
January is named after the Roman god Janus. Janus was the god of beginnings and also gates and doors.
February is named after the Roman festival of purification, Februalia. It was a time period when sins were atoned for by doing sacrifices.
March was named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It was the month when active military campaigns resumed.
April was named after the Latin word aperire which means “to open” because of how flowers would open and blossom in spring.
May was named after the Greek goddess Maia. Her Roman version was was Bona Dea, who was the goddess of chastity and fertility and whose festival was in May.
June was named after the goddess Juno. She was the goddess of marriage and childbirth and was the wife of the king of gods, Jupiter.
July was named after Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. In the early Roman calendar, it was called Quintilis, Latin for “fifth month” indicating its original position.
August was named after the first Roman emperor Augustus Caesar in 8 B.C. Its original name was Sextilus, Latin for “sixth month” indicating its original place on the yearly calendar.
September comes from the term septem which is Latin for seven. It was the seventh month in the early Roman calendar.
October was deprived of octo, Latin for 8. October also meant that it was the eighth month in the original Roman calendar.
November comes from the Latin word “novem”, meaning 9. It also indicates where it was on the original calendar.
December was the tenth month of the early Roman calendar. Decem is also Latin for ten.