Perspective

If September, October, November and December were renamed

Opinion about month names

When you think about it September, October, November and December are named weird. All of the names of the months are named after a person or a god of something. The calendar we use in everyday life is the Gregorian calendar which replaces the Julian calendar for being more accurate and including Easter. The Julian calendar incorrectly assumed the average solar year to be 365.25 days, which is an overestimate of a little under one day per century. This made the Julian calendar have a leap year without exception every four years. Also, it had floating months to make up for errors like Mercedonius (sometimes called Interkalaris), the result of a leap year. The Gregorian calendar changed the average calendar year by 0.0075 days to stop the drift of the calendar and to respect the equinoxes (spring and fall.)

But the naming system was never truly finished. When the Roman empire was naming the months, they named them to call out the military’s schedule and to honour great military leaders. Most of the names of the months were formed in the Julian calendar.

The Roman names of the first few months of the year described the military schedule. The military schedule was to inform soldiers across the land for consistency and ease. Most of the months were named by the first king of Rome, Romulus. Some month names reflect the history of Rome and Romulus’ life. But the month names in the Julian calendars were named by Julius Caesar.

March was originally the first month of the year; named after Mars, the god of war and Romulus’s father. It marked spring and the first month of military service, sailing and farming. Its Roman name was Martius.

The original second month of the year was Aprilis in the Roman calendar or April in today’s terms. The name came from the verb apero which means to open. This name was associated with the opening of flowers and fruits of spring. Some scholars think Aprilis comes from Aphrodite.

Maius was the old Roman name for May. The name came from the goddess Maia, the goddess of fertility. She is also known for the concept of growth.

Iunius is June, the fourth month of the Julian calendar; named after the goddess Juno, protector and special counsellor of the state. Also, the mother of Mars, Vullcan, Bellonas and Juventas. She was also the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire.

Some people believe that May and June were named after the Roman male population, the maiores (elders) and iuniores (juniors).

When they stopped naming the months, the remaining months were called Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December. The months are numerical names of months in the year from 5 to 10. The -ber in September to December was from the Latin adjectival suffix -bris, which means month.

Two months were renamed for the calendar. The first was renaming Quintilis after Julius Caesar, known as July. Quintilis was renamed by the Senate as July in 44 BC to honour him in his birth month. In 8 BC, Sextilis was renamed after Emperor Augustus to honour him for his great triumphs and conquest of Egypt.

January was called Ianuarius after Janus, the god of beginnings, openings and passages. And February was called Februarius after the Festival of Februalia, the purification and atonement festival. These calendar months were added in by the second king of Rome Numa Pompilius around 45 BC.

It is not like September, October, November, and December never had other names or attempts to have other notable people honoured in the Roman Empire because of bureaucracy. But I have suggestions for the names they could have used or if it was renamed in the same naming structure.

For September, the Romans could have called it Aurelio after Marcus Aurelius, one of the last great emperors of Rome. He ruled after Augustus, so it makes sense in that type of order. Or after Daphne, the goddess of autumn and transformation. In Roman times, September was known as the tax beginning of the tax year.

For October, the Romans could have called it Octave after the Roman emperor Octavius and the Octavians in the Roman Empire. It works for this month because you wouldn’t need to rename anything beginning with the “Oct.” to match the month if October existed after the naming process. The month of October was known to be ruled and linked to the god of war, Mars, for the military schedule.

For November, it could have been named Flavian after General Flavius. Even though he did more notable work in October, I think it works. Or after Pompey, one of the great Generals of Rome who won a battle against the Iberian king Artoces in winter-like conditions. Diana, tge goddess of the moon, is associated with this month but not named after her. If might be because of the hunter’s moon so prevalent in the sky.

For December, it could have been named after Hadrian after General Hadrian, who secured his army to survive the dead of winter with few supplies by building a Hadrian wall during December. Or Saturno after the Saturnalia/Saturn to coincide with the winter solstice.

With names like seventh-month, eighth-month, ninth-month and tenth-month why didn’t anyone rename those months? Easy, bureaucracy. No one in power during the Roman Empire could agree on a name. When they did decide on a name, no emperor was in power long enough to validate the process. A Senate or the next emperor always found a fault with the name or candidate. The names were usually changed temporarily and then changed back when the next ruler was in Senate. For example, Caligula tried to rename September in 37 AD to Germanicus after his father, Domitian tried to rename October to Domitianus after himself in 84 AD and Commodus tried to rename the whole calendar to the following: Amazonius, Invictus, Felix, Pius, Lucius, Aelius, Aurelius, Commodus, Augustus, Herculeus, Romanus, Exsuperatorius. Most of the well-known Generals were honoured in different ways with their names attached to different things beyond the calendar months.

Or combine another calendar like the Attic calendar, a lunar/solar calendar of Athens, Greece. The names for the months between September to December were Beodromion (after Boedromios, the helper in distress), Pyanepsion (means bean-stewing), Mainakterion (after the Festival of Maimakteria, Festival for Zeus) and Poseidon (god of the sea and water).

Or bring back Charlemagne’s Germanic month naming system after the agricultural activity instead of Gods. For example the months in Europe were called Wintarmanoth (winter-month) for January, Horung for February, Lentzinmanoth (spring-month) for March, Ostarmanoth (Easter-month) for April, Wannemanoth (joy-month) for May, Brachmanoth (fallow-month) for June, Heuuimanoth (hay-month) for July, Aranmanoth (reaping-month) for August, Witumanoth (wood-month) for September, Windumemanoth (vintage-month or wine making-month) for October, Herbistmanoth (harvest-month) for Jovember and Heliagmanoth (holy-month) for December. Long and complicated.

Or redo all the names to the calendar based on holidays and marketing events. But that woud make a lot of things inconsistent.

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