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Months Of The Year And Their Names

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



January, the first month of the year, was among the Romans held sacred to Janus, from whom it derived its name, and was added to the calendar along with February by Numa in 713 B. C. It was not till the eighteenth century that January was universally adopted by European nations as the first month of the year, although the Roman's considered it as such as far back as 251 B. C.

February is the name given to the second month, in which were celebrated the Februa, or feasts to the manes of deceased persons.

March, the first month of the Roman year, and the third according to our present calendar, consists of 31 days. It was considered as the first month of the year in England until the change of style in 1752, and the legal year was reckoned from the 25th of March. Its last three days (old style) were once popularly supposed to have been borrowed by March from April, and are proverbially stormy.

To the fourth month of our year the Romans gave the name of Aprilis, derived from aperire, "to open," probably because it is the season when the buds begin to open. By the Anglo-Saxons it was called Eastermonth.

The name of the fifth month, May, is said to be derived from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom the Romans on the first day offered sacrifices. It was the third month of the Roman year.

June, the sixth month of the year in our calendar, but the fourth among the Romans, consisted originally of 26 days, to which four were added by Romulus, one taken away by Numa, and the month again lengthened to 30 days by Julius Caesar.

The seventh month of the year in our calendar, and the fifth in the Roman calendar, was originally called Quintilis (the fifth). At first it contained 36 days, was reduced to 31, then to 30, but was restored to 31 days by Julius Caesar, in honor of whom it was named July.

August, the eighth month of the year, was so named by the Emperor Augustus (B.C. 63 A.D. 14), who commanded that his name should be given to the month. August was the sixth month of the Roman year and was previously called Sextilis.

September (Lat. Septem, seven) was the seventh month of the Roman calendar, but is the ninth according to our reckoning. The Anglo-Saxons called it gerst-monath, " barley-month."

October (Lat. octo, eight) was the eighth month of the so-called " year of Romulus, " but became the tenth when (according to tradition) Numa changed the commencement of the year to January 1st, though it retained its original name.

November (Lat. novem nine) was among the Romans the ninth month of the year (the Ger. Wind month) at the time when the year consisted of ten months, and then contained 30 days. It subsequently was made to contain only 29, but Julius Caesar gave it 31 ; and in the reign of Augustus the number was restored to 30, which number it has since retained.

December means the tenth month, and received that name from the Romans when the year began in March, and has retained its name since January and February were put at the beginning of the year.



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