Welcome to 2021!
The start of a brand new year is often filled with resolutions and promises of a fresh start. From forming good habits to learning new and exciting things, everyone is busy trying to make positive changes. But….what do you think is the first thing we all change without fail at the start of a new year, with or without a resolution?
Are you aware of the history of calendars? As we start our calendars on the month of January, have you ever wondered where the unique names of the month come from? Some of them sound like they might be English words but most of them sound exotic, don’t they? Well, wonder no more! In today’s story, we take you time-hopping through the calendar to explore the fascinating stories behind the names of each month in the year (Psst! As with a lot of things, the people responsible for this are the ancient Romans!)
The study of the origin of words is called etymology.
At the doorstep: January
The first month of the year, January gets its name from the Roman god Janus. A mythical deity with two faces, Janus was said to be able to look at the past and the future at the same time. Also symbolising gates and doors, Janus is thought to be the symbol of entering a new era or time.
Cleaning it up: February
February comes from the Latin word “’februare” which means “to purify”. Some believe that February, being the last month added to the calendar, was meant to “purify” it and make it an accurate record of time.
Read Also: Why Is February So Odd This Year?
Onwards and upwards: March
The pleasant month of March is actually named after the violent Roman god of war, Mars. Romans believed that the good weather in March was a great time to resume their battles with enemy kingdoms and hence named it after their god of war.
March was also originally supposed to be the first month of the calendar!
Blooming to glory: April
The etymology for the month of April is by far the most debated of all the calendar months. However, one interesting theory links the naming of April to springtime. Coinciding with the time when flowers begin to bloom, some scholars believe that April comes from the Latin word ‘aperire’ which means ‘to open,’ as flowers do in spring!
Nurturing the Earth: May
The origin of the month of May is relatively more straightforward. To celebrate the earth in all its glory as it begins to bloom and grow in the thick of spring, the month of May gets its name from Maia, the Roman goddess of the Earth.
Celebrating marriages: June
In ancient Rome, the start of summer was a time to get married! A part of the Northern hemisphere, the days start getting longer around the middle of the year in Rome and a lot of celebrations, including marriages, were planned around this time. To commemorate this, Juno, the Roman goddess of marriages lends her name to the month of June.
Don’t forget Caesar: July
Arguably one of the most famous personalities from ancient Rome, the month of July is named after Julius Caesar. Following his assassination in 44 B.C., the month was renamed to ‘July’ to honour Caeser, who was born in the said month. This was also the first month that was named after a real person and not a mythological deity.
Another great king: August
The month of August gets its name from the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar, Julius Caeser’s nephew. Considered to be one of the greatest emperors of Rome, Augustus was immortalised with the naming of the month. The name ‘Augustus’ also means ‘respected’ or ‘impressive’. In English, the word ‘august’ is used to denote this too! For example, ‘The professor has an august reputation for his work!’
Counting the rest: September, October, November, December
September, October, November and December, the last four months of the year seems to rhyme. No, that was not a coincidence. Originally, the last four months of the year were the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth months respectively in the old 10-month long Roman calendar. Hence, their names also reflect the same, being named after the corresponding Roman numerals. However, once January and February were added to the calendar to make it more accurate, these last four months got pushed from their spots! Their names, however, stayed the same.
So there you have it! Once again we see that history lives on with us even today. The Roman emperors who made the first calendars may be long gone. But the legacy of their culture still lives with us today in the form of the modern calendar! Want to know more about culture, history and geography? Check out the BYJU’S social science videos here!
1. Why is August named August?
August is named after a major figure of the ancient Roman world – Rome's first emperor, Augustus Caesar.
2. Who is June named after?
June is the sixth month of the Gregorian calendar. It was named after Juno, the Roman goddess of childbirth and fertility.
3. Why did the Romans only have 10 months?
According to tradition, Romulus, the legendary first king of Rome, oversaw an overhaul of the Roman calendar system around 738 BCE. The resulting calendar, whose structure borrowed heavily from the ancient Greek calendar system, had only 10 months, with March (Martius) being the first month of the year.
4. Who is the month of April named after?
The origins of some months were debated even by the Romans themselves. One tradition had it that Romulus named April after the goddess Aphrodite, who was born from the sea's foam (aphros in Ancient Greek).
5. Who is the month of May named after?
May was named after the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants. Maia was considered a nurturer and an earth goddess, which may explain the connection with this springtime month.
Deepthi is an ambivert who is on a steady diet of good food, filter coffee, and self-improvement. Being an ardent reader, storytelling has been her first love and she enjoys exploring how to convey stories compellingly. Having studied psychology and experienced the learning and development field, Deepthi is driven to understand human behavior and to know what makes each of us unique. You are most likely to find her tucked into a cozy corner at a local cafe with a Kindle or a book in hand. If you find her there, stop by and say hello, she'd be eager to learn your story too. Until then, you can ping her at [email protected] for anything you may like to share.
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