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The Origins of the Names of the Months

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

The modern names of the Months come to us from the ancient Romans. The year’s division in 12 months and their names are still the same as then (although in a different order) and they are the following:

MARCH:

One difference between now and then, is that in the past the first month of the year was March and not January as it is in our days. Romans were famous about their military forces and way of living, and this month Romans used to honour the god of war, Mars, with special feasts based in their military heritage. For this reason, to honour their god, the first month of the year was Martius which means Mars’s. (in Greek is Martios)

APRIL:

The second calendar month was April, then by the name Aprilis from the latin “aparere” meaning opening, because is the month that the blossoms open for the new flowers to appear. (in Greek Aprilios)

MAY:

The third month was Maius, they gave this name to honour Maia (Mea), the mother of God Hermes. Maia was celebrated by Romans as the Goddess of Honour and Respect. Maius means Maia’s and in Greek is Maios.

JUNE:

The fourth month was Junius, to honour the Goddess Hera by her Roman-Latin name Juno. Junius means Juno’s and in Greek is Iounios.

JULY:

The fifth month was Quintilis, that means Fifth, but later on it was renamed Julius in 44 BC to Honour Caesar. (in Greek is Ioulios)

AUGUST:

The sixth month was Sextilis, that means Sixth, but in 8 BC it was renamed in Augustus in order to honour the Emperor Augustus, who had the belief that this was his lucky month. (in Greek Avgoustos)

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SEPTEMBER:

The seventh month was Septimus, that means Seventh. In different times it was renamed in Roman Emperors’ names who wanted this month’s “spark” for themselves. (in Greek Septemvrios)

OCTOBER:

The eighth month was named after the Greek number 8 (Octo) that remains the same in Latin as well. (in Greek Octovrios)

NOVEMBER:

The ninth month was Nonus, that means Ninth, from the Latin number 9 (Nove). In Greek is Noemvrios.

DECEMBER:

The tenth month was Decimus, that means Tenth, from the Latin number 10 (Decem). In Greek is Dekemvrios.

JANUARY:

The eleventh month was named Januarius after the Roman God Janus. Janus was the two faced God of the Beginning and the End. His name comes from the Etruscan word Jauna that means Door. He was adored as the Guardian God of the Gates and Januarius means Janus’. (in Greek is Ianouarios)

FEBRUARY:

The final month was named Februarius to honour the Goddess Juno Februa who was the mother of the God Mars, and the Goddess of passion. At the 14th day of this month they were celebrating the Goddess Juno Februa and it was the Roman festival of love and passion, that we still celebrate today under the new name, St. Valentine’s Day.

This name was also to honour the God Februus, the God of Death because this was the last month of the year. At the end of this month Romans used to do purifying rituals and celebrate the God. (in Greek is Fevrouarios)

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