What Are The Origins Of The Names Of Our Months?

Ancient Rome
Image Credit: Nils

January: named after Janus, a two faced god of doors and gateways whose one face looked back on the old year while the other looked forward to the new one.

February: named in honour of the Februa festival, personified by Februus, the Roman god of purification.

March: named after Mars, the god of war, with his month ushering in the start of the war season as hostilities resume after halting during winter.

April: named after Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, or the Latin word aperire, meaning “to open,”representing the season plant life begins to open in spring.

May: named after Maia, a goddess of the earth and of plant growth, symbolizing a month associated with a surge in plant activity.

June: named after Juno, the goddess of marriage and childbirth and also the wife of Jupiter, the king of gods. June has always been a popular month for weddings, as the goddess would bring happiness and prosperity to all those who wed in her month.

July: Previously called Quintilis, which is Latin for “fifth,” the month was later named after Julius Caesar in honour of his reorganising the calendar in 46 BCE.

August: named after Augustus Caesar, the grandnephew and adopted heir of Julius Caesar, who in 8 BCE transformed Rome from a republic into an empire ruled by an emperor.

September: from the Latin word septem (seven), as this had been the seventh month of the ancient Roman calendar which started the year in March.

October: from the Latin word octo (eight).

November: from the Latin word novem (nine).

December: from the Latin word decem (ten).

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