Roman Influence in Today’s Society – Part 3 – The Calendar

Julius Caesar (46 BC) was known for a lot of things including setting up the calendar just about as we know it today. Consulting astronomers, a 365-day year was established. Divided into 12 months: Ianuarius (the “J” was not invented until the 16th century the “I” was pronounce like a “J” Julius was initially Iulius), Februarius, Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December. Iunius (June) was named after the goddess Juno, mother of gods and wife of Jupiter. It was known as a lucky month and the perfect time for weddings.

From Quintilis on, the names reflect the month’s number in the calendar (5th and so on), but then it would be off by 2 months. (Sext-6, Sept-7, Oct-8, Nov-9, Dec-10). That’s because the original Roman Calendar (circa 753 BC) was a lunarcalendar and the time between new and full moons was approximately 29.5 days. Their calendar started with Martius (named after the god Mars, the Roman god of war). Aprilis is named after the Greek goddess Aphrodite – Roman Venus; Maius is named after the Greek goddess Maia, goddess of fertility whose festival was held in May.

January and February were added in 712 BC and it took the Romans a while to figure out that leap years should be every 4 years not every 3 years and which months should have 30 days and which 31.

Quintilis was renamed Iulius (July) in honour of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and Sextilis was renamed Augustus (August) in honour of Augustus in 8 BC.

For more information on the Roman Calendar go to Wikipedia.

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