The above clip from The Simpsons got me wondering about the origin of the months. More specifically, who came up with the names? Were the names simply printed onto a calendar and then just accepted by everyone? What if there was a misprinting like in the Simpsons. I’m looking at you February.
Let’s see what we can learn…
Origin Of The Names Of The Months
Turns out, just like in The Simpsons, the calendar has gone through some changes. According to Wonderopolis.com, the ancient Roman calendar began in March and ended in February. And even though the calendar looked different than ours, the Romans did have a big impact on our calendar today. They came up with the names.
Here is how they determined each name:
March: The ancient Romans insisted that all wars cease during the time of celebration between the old and new years. Since March was the first month of the new year in ancient Rome, some historians believe the Romans named March after Mars, the Roman god of war.
April: Three theories exist regarding the origin of April’s name. Some say April got its name from the Latin word meaning “second” since April was the second month on the ancientcalendar. Others claim it comes from “aperire,” a Latin word meaning “to open,” because it represents the opening of buds and flowers in spring. Still others think April was named after the goddess Aphrodite.
May: May was named after Maia, an earth goddess of growing plants.
June: Apparently, June has always been a popular month for weddings! The Romans named June after Juno, the queen of the gods and patroness of marriage and weddings.
July: July was named after Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. Previously, July was called “Quintilis,” which is Latin for “fifth.”
August: August was named after Augustus Caesar in 8 B.C. Previously, August was called “Sextillia,” which was Latin for “sixth.”
Though we think of September, October, November and December as months 9, 10, 11 and 12, these months were 7, 8, 9 and 10 on the ancient Roman calendar. This is how they got their names.
September: September’s name comes from septem, Latin for “seven.”
October: October’s name comes from octo, Latin for “eight.”
November: November’s name comes from novem, Latin for “nine.”
December: December’s name come from decem, Latin for “ten.”
February: Around 690 B.C., Numa Pompilius turned a period of celebration at the end of the year into a month of its own, named after the festival Februa. This is how February got its name.
January: Later, Pompilius added another month to the beginning of the year and named it January after Janus, the God of beginnings and endings.
In 1582, Pope Gregory adjusted the calendar, so most western nations began celebrating the start of the year on January 1. This new calendar became known as the “Gregorian calendar.”
– See more at: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-did-the-months-of-the-year-get-their-names/#sthash.I5sD44wZ.dpuf
January: As stated above, the Roman calendar began with March. Originally it also only had 10 months. It wasn’t until 690 B.C., that Numa Pompilius added a month. He named it January after Janus, the God of beginnings and endings.
February: Pompilius also added this month which he created based on a period of celebration. The festival was called Februa.
March: An ancient Roman tradition was to stop all war during the transition from one year to the next. Since their calendar began with March, it is a bit ironic that this transition period was named after the Roman god of war, Mars
April: The Origin of the name April has three different theories.
One: the name comes from the Latin word meaning “second” since April was the second month on the Roman Calendar.
Two: the name comes from “aperire,” a Latin word meaning “to open,” which represents the the opening of buds and flowers in spring.
And three: the name comes from the goddess Aphrodite.
May: The spring weather played a role in the naming of May. The name comes from Maia, the earth goddess of growing plants.
June: Named after Juno, the queen of the gods and patroness of marriage and weddings, June has a history of being a good time for weddings.
July: In the ancient calendar, July was the fifth month of the year. Back then it was called “Quintilis,” which is Latin for “fifth.” Later it was changed to July after Julius Caesar.
August: When August was the sixth month, it was called “Sextillia,” which was Latin for “sixth.” In 8 B.C.the name was changed to honor Augustus Caesar.
September: Once the seventh month of the year, this name remains based on “septem,” Latin for “seven.”
October: Seems like we got lazy and didn’t want to change anymore names. Either that or the Romans ran out of people to honor. Even after it changed to the tenth month, October’s name remained the same, originating from “octo,” Latin for “eight.”
November: Latin for “nine.” is “novem,” thus we have November.
December: By now, you’ve probably guessed how December got it’s name. You are correct, the name comes from “decem,” Latin for “ten.”
Our current day calendar structure was created in 1582 by Pope Gregory. The new calendar is called the “Gregorian calendar” which is when we began celebrating the start of the year on January 1.