Sunday, March 16, 2014

12 Months of the Year

The original Roman calendar which began with Martius (March), consists of 10 named months namely: Martius (March), Aprilis (April), Maius (May), Junius (June), Quintilis (July), Sextilis (August), September (September), October (October), November (November), December (December) and probably 2 unnamed months during winter when there is no agricultural happenings that occur. Due to some reformation, the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius added two months which are Januarius (January) and Februarius (February) and also changed the beginning of the year to Januarius (January). A believer in luck, he changed the number of days in several months to odd number, a lucky number. After Februarius (February), there was an additional month of Intercalaris (intercalendar) added occasionally which is the origin of the leap-year day in February. Another reformation occurred in 46 BC and the Roman calendar became the Julian calendar in honor of Julius Caesar who also changed the number of days in many months and removing the original occasional month, Intercalaris.

What we are using now is called the Gregorian calendar. A refined Julian calendar that started in 1582. The reformation was motivated to bring the date of the Easter celebration to coincide to the time of the year in which the First Council of Nicea had agree upon in 325. This reformation was initially adopted by Catholic countries in Europe while Protestants and Eastern Orthodox countries followed after some time to avoid confusion in international trade. Greece was the last European country to adopt the reform in 1923.

There are 12 months in a year. Each month having a different name and how it came to be, you will be able to know here. First, let us start with a rhyme which every child was taught to learn in order to memorize the number of days of each month.

There are 90 variations of "The Month Poem" which is a traditional mnemonic English rhyme that dates back to 1425 and since this site is, below is the version 12:

30 days hath September
April June and November
all the rest have 31
except for February which alone
has 28 and 1 day more, 1 year in 4

Now that you know the number of days for each month, let us now proceed with the origin of the names of each month.

January - named after Janus, a two-faced Roman god of gates and doorways. From the Middle English word Januarius.

February - named for Februa, not a god, but considered a Roman feast of purification and atonement held every 15th of February. From the Latin word februa which means "to cleanse.

March - named after the Roman god of war, Mars, who is also known as Ares in Greek mythology. March was the original beginning of the year and also the time for resumption of wars or military campaigns that had been interrupted by winter.

April - named after the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, who is also known as Venus in Roman mythology. Old English is April(is), Latin is Aprilis, Etruscan is Apru, Greek is Aphro which is short for Aphrodite.

May - named after the daughter of Faunus and wife of Vulcan, Maia (Greek, Roman, Italian), goddess of spring who oversaw the growth of plants.

June - named after the Roman goddess of marriage and the well-being of women, Juno, who is the wife and sister of Jupiter and also known as Hera in Greek.

July - named after the Roman dictator Julius Caesar who reformed the Roman calendar in 46 B.C. and renaming the fifth month, Quintilis, after himself. With the help of Sosigenes, developed the Julian calendar, which is the precursor of the Gregorian calendar commonly used today.

August - named after the first Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, grandnephew of Julius Caesar, who completed the calendar reformation of Julius Caesar. In the process, he renamed the sixth month of the Roman calendar, Sextilis, after himself.

September - named after the Latin word septem, meaning seven, which is the seventh month of the early Roman calendar.

October - named after the Latin word octo, meaning eight, which is the eight month of the early Roman calendar.

November - named after the Latin word novem, meaning nine, which is the ninth month of the early Roman calendar

December - named after the Latin word decem, meaning ten, which is the tenth month of the early Roman calendar.

As you can see, 5 months were named after gods and goddesses of famous mythologies. 1 month is named after a festival. 2 months were named after two historical figures. The remaining 4 months were originally named after there equivalent numerical meanings in Latin.

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