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Gregorian Calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XII as a modification of Julian Calendar.

Ever wondered why is January named as ‘January’ and not ‘Johnuary’? Well, how did the months of the year get their names? Basically, the months’ names reflect a mix of gods and goddesses, rulers, and numbers.

It must be noted that most countries of the world follow Gregorian Calendar, including India.


Let’s discover the origin and meanings of the twelve months!

January

‘January’ is named after the Roman god Janus, who is protector of gates and doorways. According to mythology, Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking into the past and the other into the future. In fact, in ancient Roman times, the gates of the temple of Janus were open in times of war and closed in times of peace.

February

Derived from the Latin word ‘februa’, meaning “to cleanse.” The Februarius month of the Roman Calendar was named for Februalia, a festival of purification and atonement that took place during this period.

March

Interestingly, ‘March’ is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. This was the time of year when military campaigns that had been interrupted by winter were resumed. Moreover, March was also a time of many festivals, presumably in preparation for the campaigning season.

April

The name of this month is derived from the Latin word ‘aperio’, meaning “to open (a bud)”. One possible reason why this name was chose was because plants begin to grow in this month. At the same time, this month is also viewed as spring’s renewal.

May

‘May’ is named after the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants. The name also comes from the Latin word ‘maiores’, meaning “elders,” who were celebrated during this month. According to the mythology, Maia was considered a nurturer and an earth goddess, which may explain the connection with this springtime month.

Roman Goddess Maia ‘May’ is named after the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants.Photo by Pixabay

June

Interestingly, the name os the month is named after the Roman goddess Juno, who is regarded as the patroness of marriage and the well-being of women. The name, at the same time, is also derived from the Latin word ‘juvenis’, meaning “young people.”

July

The name is kept in order to honour Roman dictator Julius Caesar (100 B.C.– 44 B.C.) after his death. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar, with the help of Sosigenes, developed the Julian calendar. It is claimed to be one of his greatest contributions to history, it is the precursor to the Gregorian calendar which we use today.

August

August month was named to honour the first Roman emperor and grand nephew of Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar (63 B.C.– A.D. 14). The name Augustus comes from the Latin word ‘augustus’, meaning “venerable, noble, and majestic”.

September

The name of the month was kept ‘September’ simply because it was the seventh month of the early Roman calendar. Interestingly, the name is derived from the Latin word ‘septem, meaning “seven”.

October

According to the ancient Roman calendar, October was the name of the eighth month of the year. Interestingly, its name comes from ‘octo, which is the Latin word for “eight.” In fact, when the Romans converted to a 12-month calendar, they tried to rename this month after various Roman emperors, but the name October was decided at the end.

November

The name of the month comes from the Latin word ‘novem’, meaning “nine,” simply because this was the ninth month of the early Roman calendar.

December

December is the last month of a year, and so its name is derived from the Latin word ‘decem’, meaning “ten,” because this was the tenth month of the early Roman calendar.

(Keywords: Facts, Origin, Months, Year, Names, Meanings, Etymology, Roman Calendar, Gregorian Calendar)


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