Where do the month names come from?
|Name||Comes from||Who or what?||Why?|
|January||Janus||God of Doors||This month opens the year.|
|February||februo||purify||This was a Roman month of sacrifices and purification.|
|March||Mars||God of War||Start of year for soldiers (no fighting during winter)|
|April||aperire||open||This is the month when trees open their leaves.|
|May||Maia||Goddess of Growth||This is the month when plants really start to grow.|
|June||Juno||Queen of the Gods|
|July||Julius Caesar||Ruler of Rome||He reorganised the calendar.|
|August||Augustus||Ruler of Rome||He thought he was at least as important as Julius Caesar!|
|September||septem||seven||Seventh month (counting from March)|
|October||octo||eight||Eighth month (counting from March)|
|November||novem||nine||Ninth month (counting from March)|
|December||decem||ten||Tenth month (counting from March)|
When you look at September, October, November and December, it seems as if the Romans couldn't count! But their year used to start in March. When Julius Caesar reorganised the calendar and made it start in January, he kept the old names, apart from one month, which he called after himself. Augustus came after Julius Caesar and changed the name of another month.
The Romans had the same months as us. They had special names for the first day in the month (the Kalends), the seventh day (the Nones) and the fifteenth (the Ides). The Kalends belonged to Juno. The Ides belonged to Jupiter. They did not have weeks like us.
The infomation on this page comes from Plutarch, who has some other ideas about month names as well. Click here for a translation of Plutarch's description.
© Jo Edkins 2009 - Return to Roman gods index