The Months of the Year

The Months of the Year

Here it is almost the end of January and we haven’t even considered what it means to be the first month of the year. Well, here is something to think about.

January is named for the Roman god Janus, the gatekeeper. “Janus” + -arius “ary (pertaining to).” He is depicted with two faces, one looking backward and one looking forward. It is the month of endings and beginnings.

February is the month of Februa, a Roman festival of purification, held on February fifteenth. It has 28 days, except “leap year coming once in four, February then has one day more,” i.e., 29 days.

March is named for Mars, the Roman god of war. It was the first month of the Roman year.

April is Aphrodite’s month. Greek Aphro, short for Aphrodite; Latin Aprilis. An alternative derivation attributes its name to aperire, “to open,” possibly because it is the month in which the buds begin to open.

May is named for Maia, “the great one,” the Italic goddess of spring. She was the daughter of Faunus (in Roman myth, the horned god of the fields and forest, equated in literature with the Greek god Pan) and the wife of Vulcan (the son of Jupiter and Juno, and the Roman god of fire).

June is named for Juno, the sister and wife of Jupiter – the Roman king of the gods, known as Zeus in Greek mythology – and the principle goddess of the Roman pantheon. She is the goddess of marriage and well-being of women.

July is named for Julius Caesar, who was born in this month. In reforming the Roman calendar in 46 BC, remaned this month after himself.

August: At one time, this month was known as sextilis mensis (sixth month). Augustus Caesar clarified and completed the calendar reform of Julius Caser and, in the process, renamed this month after himself.

September is the seventh month – remembering that March was the first month of the Roman year – from the Latin septem, meaning seven.

October is the eighth month, from the Latin octo, meaning eight.

November is the ninth month, from the Latin novem, meaning nine.

December is the tenth month, from the Latin decem, meaning ten.

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