Months of the Year – Origin Posted by Adir on Oct 20, 2008 in Spanish Culture
Do you know the origin of the months of the year? In Ancient Rome there were only ten months in the calendar initially. That created a lack of alignment with real time, and artificial adjustments had to made every year. Eventually Julius Caesar supervised a reform of the calendar that took into consideration the four seasons and had 365 days (with the leap year system as we know it today). This is known as the Julian calendar. The fifth and sixth months were renamed after Julius Caesar and Augustus (the first month of the year was March). The origin of the names of the current months in Spanish can be traced back to the Julian calendar:
Enero – From Latin, januarius, honors Janus, the two-faced God that looked upon the past and the future. Janus was also the God of the Gates and Doors.
Febrero – From Latin, februarius, to purify, referring to the Lupercal feasts where priests hit women on the back with februum (sticks, poles) to purify them. The Romans consecrated this Month, the shortest of the year, to Neptune, God of Water and the Sea.
Marzo – From Latin, martius, in honor of Mars, the God of Warfare. Romulus consecrated this month, which was the first of the year in the old Roman calendar.
Abril – From Latin aprilis; according to Ovid, from aprire, to open, because it is the time when vegetation starts to grow in the northern region and flowers bloom.
Mayo – From Latin maius, in honor of Maia, the eldest of the Pleiades, daughter of Atlas and Pleione.
Junio – From Latin iuniu, in honor of Juno, the Goddess of Home.
Julio – From Latin iuliu, in honor of Julius Caesar. In the ancient Roman calendar it was called quintiles, because it was the fifth month and it was consecrated to Jupiter, Supreme God.
Agosto – From Latin augustus, for Augustus, the Octavian emperor.
Septiembre – From Latin september, because it was the seventh month in the ancient Roman calendar.
Octubre – From Latin october, because it was the eighth month in the ancient Roman calendar.
Noviembre – From Latin november, the ninth month of the early Romans. During Commodus’ Empire there was an attempt to rename it exaperatorius, but it didn’t prosper.
Diciembre – From Latin december, tenth month in the ancient Roman calendar, dedicated to Vesta (Goddess of the Hearth, Home and Family). It was represented by a slave holding a lit torch, in reference to Saturn feasts.
Nos vemos prontito!
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.