Roman Gods index

Month Names

Where do the month names come from?

NameComes fromWho or what?Why?
January Janus God of Doors This month opens the year.
February februo purify This was a Roman month of sacrifices and purification.
March Mars God of War Start of year for soldiers (no fighting during winter)
April aperire open This is the month when trees open their leaves.
May Maia Goddess of Growth This is the month when plants really start to grow.
June Juno Queen of the Gods
July Julius Caesar Ruler of Rome He reorganised the calendar.
August Augustus Ruler of Rome He thought he was at least as important as Julius Caesar!
September septem seven Seventh month (counting from March)
October octo eight Eighth month (counting from March)
November novem nine Ninth month (counting from March)
December decem ten Tenth month (counting from March)

When you look at September, October, November and December, it seems as if the Romans couldn't count! But their year used to start in March. When Julius Caesar reorganised the calendar and made it start in January, he kept the old names, apart from one month, which he called after himself. Augustus came after Julius Caesar and changed the name of another month.

The Romans had the same months as us. They had special names for the first day in the month (the Kalends), the seventh day (the Nones) and the fifteenth (the Ides). The Kalends belonged to Juno. The Ides belonged to Jupiter. They did not have weeks like us.

The infomation on this page comes from Plutarch, who has some other ideas about month names as well. Click here for a translation of Plutarch's description.

Roman calendar