Did you ever wonder how the months of the year got their names? Maybe you know it has something to do with gods and mythology or Roman emperors, but don’t know the details. Some things don’t even seem to make sense. For instance, an octagon has eight sides, but October is not the eighth month, it’s the tenth! What’s going on? Watch this video, and you won’t have to wonder anymore! You’ll understand why January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December all have the names that they do! After watching this video, watch my other video about how the names of the days of the week:
Take the quiz: https://www.engvid.com/how-did-the-months-get-their-names
Hi. This is Gill here from engVid, and today’s lesson is on the subject of the “Months of the Year” and where the names for the months come from. This links to an earlier lesson I did on the days of the week and where those names come from. And this is very similar, really, because a lot of the names come from Roman times, the Roman Empire, the emperors and so on, Roman mythology, gods and goddesses, that kind of thing, as well as a few Latin words. So, let’s have a look.
The months of the year, so we begin with January, and the God Janus, the god of doors… If you see a statue or a picture of Janus, you see two faces looking in two different directions, usually left and right. The god who looks both ways, back to the past and forward to the future, and also with doors, of course, you either go in through the door or out through the door, so it’s about two directions, a place of transition. Okay? So that’s January, coming from Janus. Okay.
February, this is maybe not so clear where the name comes from, but people think it comes from the word… The Latin word “februare” which means to purify, because at that time of year in the Roman Empire there was a Festival of Forgiveness where people were forgiven for things that they’d done. So it was a kind of purification period. So it may be that February comes from that, februare. Okay.
Then we have March, which is named after the god of war, Mars. Okay. And at one time for a long time March was the first month in the Roman calendar. It was counted from here, and then presumably they went to the end and January, February came at the end. So, Mars… March was the first month of the year in the Roman Empire calendar. But that changed in the 16th century when Pope Gregory brought in his Gregorian Calendar and made January the first month of the year officially, and that explains a little bit what we will be coming to at the end of the list where these numbers don’t make sense, but we’ll come to that. Okay, so that’s March.
April, Aprilis in the Latin name, and it could come, people think, from the Latin word to open: “apperire”, and if you think of flowers in the spring opening, it’s that kind of idea after the winter, flowers start to appear, so it’s a springtime kind of word. Okay.
May is named after Maia, the Roman goddess who was the mother of Mercury.
June named after Juno, another goddess who was the wife of Jupiter.
July is named after the famous emperor, Julius Caesar who was born in that month. He was born in that month when it was called Quintilis, which is the Latin word for fifth, which explains if you start with March as one… One, two, three, four, five, July was the fifth month at that time. But they renamed it anyway after Julius Caesar and it’s now called July. Okay.
And similarly, with August, that used to be called the sixth month, Latin, Sextilis, but it was named… It was changed and named after Augustus Caesar in the 8th century BC. So, August comes from the emperor Augustus, okay.
And then the last four are just based on the numbers, and this is where it… This is why it seems strange that September nowadays, it’s not the seventh month at all, it’s the ninth month, but at that time when they were counting from March, it was the seventh month. That’s why it’s so confusing. So: “septem” Latin for 7th, September. October, “octo”, Latin for 8th. November, “novem”, Latin for 9th. December, “decem”, Latin for 10th, so that explains why those months don’t have the right number connection at all. So, that explains that mystery. And it explains also how we have this influence from so many hundreds of years ago from the Roman Empire and we’ve never really replaced that system. It’s a bit like the days of the week, with the northern and southern mythology names. It would be too difficult, probably to try to change the names now, so we still have those names from hundreds of years ago.
So, there we are. So I hope that’s been useful. And as I mentioned, we already have a lesson on the days of the week, and a lot of them are also based on the Roman… Roman mythology and also the northern Norse mythology from the northern European area. […]