June 11, 2004

From Buzzle.com
Jun 6 04
Saurin Desai

All the calendar's months

What is the origin of the names of the months that we use today? It is not known as to when or where was the first calendar invented, but going by the lunar cycle that is followed even today, it is quite possible that the first calendar followed the phases of the moon.
The word 'month' itself is derived from the word 'moon'. And archaeologists have found notched bones that go back to 20,000 BC with the notches representing the phases of the moon.
As for the origin of the word 'calendar', it might have originated from the word 'kalendarium' which is Medieval Latin for accounting books. The first day of each month in the ancient Roman calendar was called 'kalendae' or 'calends'.

The origin of the names of all the twelve months are Latin.


The name of the first month of the year is derived from 'Janus', the Roman god of gates & doors and also of beginnings & endings. He had a double-faced head, each face looking in the opposite direction and was worshipped at the beginning of important events including births, marriages, harvests etc. Slowly he also came to represent transitions in life. January itself is a transition between the old and the new, between the past and the future, between what has happened and what will. And Janus was its perfect representation, with one face gazing back at the year that had passed by, the other facing into the year that lied ahead.
Originally January was the eleventh month of the year, it was Julius Caesar who changed the calendar and made January, the first month of the year in 452 BC.


'February', the second month, was named either after a Roman festival of purification and cleansing called 'Februa' (from the Latin word 'Februarius' meaning 'to purify') or derived from the old Italian God 'Februs' who was later identified with the Roman God Pluto. It dates back from the time of Rome's founding and was initially the last month of the year. February now has 28 days (29 during a leap year).
There are various theories as to how February landed up with 28 days. According to one, February originally had 30 days, but Julius Caesar took a day off and added it to June and when Augustus became emperor, he wanted the month of August, named after him, to have 31 days and so February was again made the sacrificial lamb.


This was initially the first month of the year. Named after 'Mars', the god of war, and originally called 'Martius', it was so named because most war campaigns began in this month. Mars was considered the god of war because of his savage delight in slaughtering his enemies.
For the Romans, Mars was the most important God after Jupiter and was also considered the father of the Roman people because he was the father of Romulus, the founder of Rome.


The fourth month 'April', was originally called 'Aprilus' or 'Aprilis' and was derived from 'aperire' which means 'to open'. It is around the month of April that flowers and leaves open. The Romans considered this a sacred month for the goddess 'Venus'.


Originally the third month of the Roman calendar and now the fifth, 'May' is most likely to have been named after the goddess 'Maia', the Roman goddess of spring, the daughter of Faunus and wife of Vulcan. But it could also have been named after 'Maiesta', the Roman Goddess of honor and reverence.
Some even claim that it is short for 'majores', Latin for grown men or majors.


The fourth month of the Roman calendar was named after 'Juno', the queen goddess and wife of Jupiter. However, it is also possible that the name came from 'juniores', Latin for young men or juniors as opposed to majores for May. June had 29 days till Julius Caesar added a day to make it 30.


It was called 'Quintilis' initially, as it was the fifth month. Julius Caesar was born in this month and after his assassination in 44 BC, the month was renamed 'Julius' in his honor.


This month was originally called 'Sextilis' (from sextus, Latin for six). Around 8 BC, the Roman Emperor 'Augustus' wanted to rename a month after himself and chose Sextilis as several fortunate events had happened during this month. The month was renamed but the emperor refused to have only 30 days in his month and had a day shifted from February to August and it ended up having 31 days.
Augustus was a shrewd, brilliant and astute politician. Born as Gaius Octavius, in 27 BC, he was given the title of 'Augustus' meaning 'the exalted' and was also given the legal power to rule Rome's religious, civil and military affairs, effectively making him Rome's first Emperor.

The last four months, i.e. September to December were originally the seventh to tenth months and thus the names have being derived from the original number of the month.


'September' originates from the Latin 'septem' which means seven.


'October' is derived from 'octo', Latin for eight.


'Novem' is Latin for nine and gives November.


Ten in Latin means 'decem' and from that originates the name of the month of December.

And now you know

No comments: