Origins of Month Names

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
  • January: named after Janus, protector of the gateway to heaven
  • February: named after Februalia, a time period when sacrifices were made to atone for sins
  • March: named after Mars, the god of war, presumably signifying that the campaigns interrupted by the winter could be resumed
  • April: from aperire, Latin for “to open” (buds)
  • May: named after Maia, the goddess of growth of plants
  • June: from junius, Latin for the goddess Juno
  • July: named after Julius Caesar
  • August: named after Augustus, the first Roman Emperor
  • September: from septem, Latin for “seven”
  • October: from octo, Latin for “eight”
  • November: from novem, Latin for “nine”
  • December: from decem, Latin for “ten”

More on Months

  • Months are based roughly on the moon. A lunar month is 291/2 days, or the time from one new moon to the next.
  • 12 lunar months leave 11 days remaining in the solar year.
  • To help you remember the days of the month, remember “30 days has September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31, except February, which has 28.”

NOTE: The earliest Latin calendar was a 10-month one; thus September was the seventh month, October, the eighth, etc. July was originally called Quintilis, as the fifth month; August was originally called Sextilis, as the sixth month. For more on the calendar and the names of months, see A History of the New Year

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