As the new year starts, the words “January” or “February” caught your attention while buying a calendar or a new diary. You might have wondered how did the months of the year get their names? You would want to know the origin of their naming. First of all, we should know about the months. A month is a unit of time which is related to the moon. People in as early as the Paleolithic age counted days in relation to the moon cycle. Months based on the moon's orbital period, with respect to the Earth-Sun line, are called Synodic months and they are still a basis of many calendars.
Here's how the months of the year got their names:
January: The first month of the year got its name from the Roman god Janus. Janus presided over doors and beginnings which appropriately means the beginning of the year. As a characteristic of a new year, Janus was usually depicted as a god with two faces. The fact that Janus has two faces gave rise to the term Janus for words that have two opposite meanings.
February: February is based on the Latin februarius, from februa. Numa Pompilius, at around 690 BC, turned an end of the year period of celebration into a month of its own. This festival was a purification feast held on the 15th of this month. February is named after that festival “Februa” or “Februalia”.
March: Most of us know the god after which March is named. Yes, you guessed it right! It is Mars. The most probable reason for that can be since Mars was a god of war therefore in ancient Rome, most of the festivals dedicated to Mars took place in March, presumably in preparation for the campaigning season.
April: There are many theories regarding the origin of April's name. According to some, the month got its name from Latin word meaning “Second” because April was the second month of the ancient calendar. Others said it comes from “Aperire” which means “to open” in latin. April was also called Eastermonab in old English.
May: May is named after goddess Maia. Maia was the daughter of Atlas and mother of Hermes. She was perhaps less well known now than the other deities with months named after them. She was worshiped as an earth goddess and a nurturer.
June: The month June was named after the Roman Deity Juno. Juni was the wife of Jupiter. She was worshiped as a goddess of marriage and childbirth.
July: July was named after Julius Caesar after his death in 44BC because July was his month of birth. The month was known as Quintilis before it was renamed. Quintilis means fifth. July is the first month to be named after a real person.
August: August was named after the first roman emperor Augustus Caesar. Before renaming it was known as Sextilis which means Sixth.
September: September was named after the Latin septem which means Seven. This follows Quintilis and Sextilis in that order. In Roman ten-month calendar, September was the seventh month.
October: October means “eight” in latin which following the same progression as September. Two months were added to the end of the calendar year around 713 BC, and the beginning of the year was moved to 1 January in 153 BC.
November: November derived from novem, means “nine” following the pattern of September and October.
December: Following the pattern of September, October and November, the name December originated from decem, means “ten.”