Naming The Months

Why are the months named as they are?

A teaching colleague of mine used to say we ought to rename the months as follows:

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy, Showery, Flowery, Bowery, Beauty, Fruity, Shooty, Breezy, Sneezy and Freezy.

Not a bad idea really but I’m not sure it has legs beyond Reception. I think this is actually a version by George Ellis:

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,
Showery, Flowery, Bowery,
Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,
Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy.

And another version:

Freezy, Sneezy, Breezy, Wheezy, Showery, Lowery, Flowery, Bowery, Snowy, Flowy, Blowy, Glowy.

Our lives run on Roman time and our special events, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and public holidays are regulated by Pope Gregory XIII’s Gregorian Calendar, which is itself a modification of Julius Caesar’s calendar introduced in 45 B.C.

It is of course then thanks to the Romans that we have the calendar we do although the origin of the names given to the months is unclear but they are linked to Roman gods, leaders, festivals, and numbers.

The most probable meanings are:

January from Janus, the two-faced god who looked back on the old year and forward to the new one.

February from the Roman religious festival Februa held on February 15th which was the day of purification and dedication.

March from Mars, the god of youth and springtime.

April connected to the Latin word ‘aperio’ meaning to open and so to the opening of flowers.

May from Maia, the goddess of growth and increase.

June is thought to be from the Roman family name Junius.

July after Julius Caesar.

August after Augustus Caesar.

September to December, the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth months of the Roman year when it began in March and so-called from the numbers septem, octo, novem and decem.

Julius Caesar’s astronomers explained the need for 12 months in a year and the addition of a leap year to synchronize with the seasons. At the time, there were only ten months in the calendar, while there are just over 12 lunar cycles in a year.

There are other interpretations of how the months were named:

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