Where do months get their names

Anika Hovel

Everything has a name that usually relates to it, but where do the months get their names. Is it from a different language or are they just made up?

All of it essentially originated from ‘The Ancient Roman Calendar’ which had 12 months like we do now, but only 10 of those months had formal names. These 10 months would be known as March through December.

The reason for this was because the winter, or January and February were considered to be a “dead period” when the government and military wouldn’t be active. 

According to Britannica “The Roman ruler Numa Pompilius is credited with adding January at the beginning and February at the end of the calendar to create the 12-month year. In 452 BC, February was moved between January and March.” 

 March and April have a more interesting origin. Mars was the Roman god of war and March for the Romans was when the campaigns for the military started again. March relates to Martius (Mars) resulting in its clever name. And April or Aprilis is believed to have come from the Latin word ‘aperio’ which means ‘to open’ relating to springtime and blossom’s opening.

Almanac, a site describing the origin of the names, said “The rest of the months were simply numbered; their original names in Latin meant the fifth (Quintilis), sixth (Sextilis), seventh (September), eighth (October), ninth (November), and tenth (December) month.

But May (Maius) and June (Junius) were not only named after the numbers, but they were also named after the Goddesses Juno for June and Maia for May.

The other two months were later added giving all of the months ‘formal’ names. January was named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, which is suitable for the time of year. February was then named after Februa, a festival for springtime washing and ‘cleansing.’