1. January – derived form the Latin Januarius which in turn is derived from the Roman mighty one of portals and patron of beginnings and endings Janus, to whom this month was sacred. He is shown as having two faces, one in front, the other at the back of his head, supposedly to symbolize his powers.
With the exception of islamic states and other scattered pagan tribes, most of the world uses the Gregorian calendar, named for the Roman Catholic pope Gregory the 3rd who invented it, and it has “January” as the first month of the year. Roman legend has it that the ruler Numa Pompilius added January and February to the end of the 10-month Roman calendar in about 700 BCE. Pompilius gave the month 30 days. Romans later made “January” the first month. In 46 BCE, the Roman statesman Julius Caesar added a day to “January” making it 31 days long. The Anglo-Saxons called the first month “Wolfmonth” because wolves came into the villages in winter in search of food.
2. February – derived from Februa, a Roman festival of purification. It was originally the month of expiation.
February is the shortest month of the Gregorian calendar year. February had 28 days until Julius Caesar gave it 29, and 30 days every four years. According to tradition Augustus, the Roman emperor, took one day off to add one day to August, the month named after him. We now have February with 28 days and 29 on leap years.
3. March – named for Mars, the Roman mighty one of war.
March is the third month of Georgian calendar. According to the early Roman calendar, it was the first month and was called Martius. The ancient Romans later made January 1 the beginning of the year, which pushed March to the third month on the calendar. March has always had 31 days. Its name honors Mars, the Roman God of war.
4. April – derived from the Latin APRILIS, indicating a time of Fertility. It was believed that this month is the month when the earth was supposed to open up for the plants to grow.
April was the second month in an early Roman calendar but became the fourth when the ancient Romans started using January as the first month. The Romans called the month Aprilis. It may come from a word meaning ‘to open’, or it may come from Aphrodite, the Greek name for the goddess of love.
5. May – named for Maia, the Roman female deity of growth or increase.
According to the early Roman calendar, May was the third month. Later, the ancient Romans used January 1 for the beginning of their year and May became the fifth month. May has always had 31 days.
Several stories are passed around to show how the month of May was named. The most widely accepted explanation is that it was named for Maia, the Roman goddess of spring and growth. Her name related to a Latin word that means increase or growth.
6. June – this name is sometimes attributed to JUNO, the female mighty one of the marriage, the wife of Jupiter in Roman mythology. She was also called the “Queen of Heaven” and “Queen of Mighty Ones.” The name of this month is also attributed to Junius Brutus, but originally it most probably referred to the month in which crops grow to ripeness.
June is the sixth month on the Georgian calendar. On the Roman calendar it was considered the fourth month and had only 29 days. Julius Caesar gave the month 30 days in 46 BCE when he reformed the Roman calendar.
7. July – named for the Roman emperor Julius Caesar.
July is the seventh month on the Gregorian calendar. On the Roman calendar it was the fifth month and it was called Quintilis’, meaning fifth. Julius Caesar gave the month 31 days in 46 BCE. The Roman Senate named it ‘Julius’, in honor of Caesar.
8. August – named for Octavius Augustus Caesar, emperor of Rome. The name was originally from Iaugure which means to increase.
August is the eighth month on the Gregorian calendar, renamed by the Romans from Sextilis, meaning sixth, to honor their emperor, Augustus.
9. September – derived from the Latin septem, meaning seven.
September is the ninth month on the Gregorian calendar. But on the Roman calendar it was the seventh month. September has had 29 days and 31 days but since the time of the emperor Augustus it has had only 30 days.
10. October – derived from the Latin root octo, meaning eight.
October is the tenth month of the year on the Gregorian calendar. October was the 8th month in the early Roman calendar. October has had 31 days since the time of the Roman emperor Augustus.
11. November – derived from Latin novem, meaning ninth.
November is the eleventh month of the year on the Gregorian calendar. In the early Roman calendar it was the ninth month. The Roman Senate elected to name the eleventh month for Tiberus Caesar and since Augustus’ time it has had only 30 days. Originally, there were 30 days, then 29, then 31.
The Anglo-Saxons referred to November as the ‘wind month’ and the ‘blood month’ – probably because this is the month they killed their animals for food.
12. December – derived from the Latin decem, meaning ten.
December is the twelfth and last month of the year according to the Gregorian calendar. It was the tenth month in the early Roman calendar. It became the twelfth month in a later Roman calendar. Until 46 BCE December only had 29 days but the Roman statesman Julius Caesar added two days to December which made it 31 days.