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How Our Months Got Their Names

As we learned here, and here, the Romans were great at conquest but bad at creating calendars. Their year was broken up into 10 months, and only four of those had names. The first month was called Martius, after Mars, the god of war. The second month was called Aprilis, which meant "opening", like flowers were doing at the time. The third was called Maius, after the goddess Maia, Mercury's mom. The fourth, Junius, was named for Juno, who was Jupiter's wife. The remaining months were just called fifth, sixth, through tenth, in Latin; Quintilis, Sextilis, Septembris, Octobris, Novembris, and Decembris.

So, Oct- means 8, Dec- means 10, how did they become the 10th and 12th months? The Romans added 2 months at the beginning of the year. The new first month was named after Janus, and the new second month was named after the festival of purification called Febura.

So, what happened to Quintilis and Sextilis? Well, Julius Caesar modernized the calendar, adopting the Greeks' 7-day week and creating what we call the Julian calendar, and so he wanted a month named after himself, and the originally fifth month (now seventh) was called July after Julius Caesar. As to Sextilis, Emperor Augustus said if Caesar could do it so could he, and it became August. 7, 8, 9 and 10 remain unnamed to this day.

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