From: English Elementary Reader
by: Robert and Daxon
We have read something about the origin of words. Now we shall read something about the origin of the names of the months. Sometimes student have difficulty in remembering the names of the months in English. If we know something of the history of these names, possibly they will not seem so difficult to us.
The names of the months all come from Latin. Many of the names were names of Roman gods. January, March, May, June- these months are named after Roman gods. January was named after the god Janus. Janus was a strange god with two faces. He could look in two direction. Could look forward and back at the same time. He was the god of ending and beginnings. January, which is named after him is the first month of the year. One also looks back to the old year.
The name February comes from a Roman celebration. The name of this celebration was Februa. It was a celebration of cleaning. Toward, the end of February, after long winter months, women begin to think of spring cleaning. Probably this was the origin of the name of the month. February has only twenty eight days. Every four years these six extra day or twenty nine days. The reason of this is that in every year there are exactly 365 days and six hours. At the end of four years , in which February has twenty nine days, we call “Leap Year”.
The third month, March, is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. Mars was a strong god, the Roman people always connected him with thunder and lighting. Pictures of mars always show him with lightning about his head. It is natural that the name of March comes from this god Mars. March is a month of storms. The wind blows strongly. It rains very hard. There is often thunder and lightning.
The origin of the word April is not known exactly. Probably the word comes from the Latin word Apreriri. This Latin word means “to open”. In Spanish today there are the word Abrir (to open), and Abierto (open). In the month of April the skies open . it rains very often. The trees become green. Grass and flower also begin to open. The trees become green. Grass flowers appear. Spring itself begins officially on April
The month of May is named after the godess Maia. Maia was young, pretty. She was the goddess of the fields. She was the mother of the god Mercury. The month June was named after the goddess Juno. She was the wife of Jupiter. Juno was a beautiful woman
The seventh month of the year, July, is named after Julius Caesar was a famous general. He became emperor of Rome. Before the time of Caesar another calendar was used. The year began in March instead of in January. The present month of July was then the fifth month instead of the seventh month. Caesar changed this. He made new calendar. This is the calendar we use at present. Caesar himself was born in July. He gave the name of July to this month, the seventh month of the new calendar.
After Julius Caesar came his son Augustus. At first the name of Augustus was Octavius. Later he became emperor. The people wished to please him. They gave him the title of Augustus, meaning “noble”. They also called the eighth month August after him. Possibly you have read something of the Augustan period of Roman history. It called the “Golden Age.” It was a period of peace. It was a period of great literature and art. The great Latin poets, Horace and Virgil, lived at this time.
The months of September, October, November, and December need little explanation. In our calendar today they are the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth months. But in the old calendar before Julius Caesar they were the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months. The names for the months September, October, November, and December therefore came from Latin words for seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth. In Spanish today for example, for example, the word for seventh is Septimo. The word for eighth is octavo, etc.