Evidence of their existence cast in rock and a calendar that followed along the following lines…
Initially, the calendar was only ten months running from March to December with the origins of the names being derived from Roman deities and numbers.
March was the first month in the Roman Calendar, named after Mars, the god of war. It was a time for settling of debts and celebration. Most famous for the “Ides of March” where ‘ides’ referred to the full moon and where Julius Caesar met his fate in 44 BC.
April was most likely named after the summer opening of flowers and was referred to as ‘Aprillis’ by the Romans. There is also a line of thought that credits it to Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and beauty.
May is a little less complicated and has most likely got its origins in Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and plants.
June is from Juno, the wife of Jupiter and the goddess of marriage and childbirth.
July was named in honor of Julius Caesar after his assassination but was his birth month.
August follows another Roman leader, Augustus and was a nephew of Julius. Prior to this it was called sextilis which referred to the sixth month.
September is derived from the Latin septum being seven.
October being the eighth month was named after the Latin word octo for eight.
November was the nineth month and appropriately labeled as such from the Latin novem for Nine.
December being the tenth month named from decem, the Latin for ten. This also brings to mind the decimal system working off a base of ten and the word decimate originating from the ‘removal of a tenth’. The members of a soldiers cohort would have to execute every tenth man as a form of discipline.
So what happened that messed up our naming convention?
Well, in 46 BC the Julian Calendar came into being and two months were inserted at the start of the year, namely:
January named after the god Janus and being the deity of beginnings and endings.
February named after ‘februa’ which was a Roman festival of cleansing that happened during this month.
There are some interesting points relating to the Maya in the Americas around the same time as the Romans but we will address that one in another post.