Why and How the Names of the Months Are Older than the Calendar

by Swagata Sarkar August 29, 2022

Month Names Derived from Different Sources Worth Exploring

The names of the months are older than the calendar. The modern Gregorian calendar has its roots in the Roman calendar. All the names of the months worldwide have Latin roots. The ancient Latin calendar had 10 months. January was not always the first month. A year used to start with March.


Therefore September and October used to be the 7th and 8th months of a calendar. July had an ancient name - Quintilis. It means fifth. August used to be identified as Sextilis, which means sixth. This was an overall picture of ancient times. In this blog, we will discuss the history of the calendar. How did the practice of the modern-day calendar start? What are the evolutions it went through?


Who Invented Calendar?

History of the calendar says that the Sumerians first used a calendar in Mesopotamia civilization. It was during the bronze age. The people of Egypt and Rome had their calendars way before the idea of the modern calendar came into practice. King Romulus introduced the Roman calendar. It was only 10 months. Back then, years started in March and ended in December. The months January and February were included later.


Invention of calendar


Invention of Calendar


Greek people used to follow lunisolar calendars to keep track of time. The people of Persia used a calendar led by Khayyam. Previously people used to track records of months with the lunar Year. The credit for putting the modern Gregorian calendar into practice goes to Pope Gregory. He adjusted the calendar so that most western nations began celebrating the New Year on the 1st of January. So, if we have to answer the question, “who invented Calendar?” The answer would be Pope Gregory.


Who Added the Month of January to the calendar?

So, if you ask who added the month of January to the calendar, that credit also goes to him. However, England and the American colonies celebrated the New Year in March. It was until 1752 that the British and their colonies finally adopted the modern-day Gregorian Calendar. January is named after Janus - the Roman deity.


Meaning of Months from January to December

  • January: January is the first month of the Gregorian calendar. January is named after Janus - the Roman God. Janus is the deity of beginning and end. This God presided over doors and gates. What can be more appropriate for the start of the Year! Janus, the God, is usually depicted with faces that look backward and forward. Just like the characteristics of the New Year.

  • February: February- the word is derived from Februa. February is the name of a Roman purification. February is the time of cleansing. The February festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the month.

  • March: March is named after the God of war and the planet Mars. Several festivals of Mars were celebrated in March. March was considered a mild period of the Year when a war could start. Earlier, this was the beginning time of the Year. Between the Foundation of Rome and the fall of the Roman empire, the Romans changed the order of months many times.


Modern calendar


Modern Calendar


  • April: April is formed from the Latin word Aprilis, a derivative of the Latin base Apero. It means second. April was the 2nd month of the Year when January and February were not there. Thus the name makes sense.

  • May: May is named after the Greek Goddess Maia. She is the child of Atlas and also the mother of Hermes. Maia is the nurturer and the goddess of the earth. That certainly speaks for her connection with the springtime month. In Spring, flowers and crops burst forth.

  • June: June got its name after the Roman Goddess- ‘Juno’. Goddess Juno is worshipped for marriage and childbirth. She is the wife of Jupiter. Jupiter is the king of gods. The Latin version of Juno is luno. The word later evolved as Juno.

  • July: July is the 7th month. July was named after Julius Caesar. The month was named after him right after his assassination in 44 BC. July is also the month of Julius Caesar’s birth. July is the 1st month of the calendar that bears the name of a real person instead of a deity.

  • August: August is the second month that is named after a real person. This month was primarily called Sextilis, the 6th month in ancient times. Later it was named after the nephew of Julius Caesar - Augustus. The word stands for ‘respected and impressive.’

  • September: September means seven in Latin. So, September is named after none other than the number 7 itself as it used to be the 7th month of the Year.

  • October, November, and December: These 3 months are named after octo, novem, and decem. Those mean the Latin language's 8th, 9th, and 10th months of the Year. This was how the month counting used to be before 46 BC. It was in 46 BC only when January became the first month of the new Julian calendar. Following this, September, October, November, and December became the 10th, 11th, and 12th months of a year, respectively. 


Conclusion

It is now clear that the names of the months are older than the calendar. You now know who named the months of the Year. It was never a single person but the devotees or followers of the deity or person who invented the names. The last few months only carry the Latin version of their number of consequences. The word ‘month’ is derived from the moon.


A lunar cycle completes in approximately 30 days and takes a month. Every month has its individuality and nature, just like the nature of their period. Different months are associated with different seasons. Babies born in particular months fall under a specific zodiac sign. Hence, astrology, too, has its connection with the appearance of months. The more we know about them, the more we get amazed.