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Understanding the Names of the Months and Their Significance


The naming of months from a cycle that includes twelve is filled with historical significance. For thousands of years until now, changes have been observed in the designations given every month according to different cultural, astronomic or social conditions. Here we shall go back in time to investigate how each month got its name, thus free the complex web that makes our calendar an important part of our lives.

In this progress through the calendar days associated with the English names for 12 months, we will explore the origin and symbolism behind each month and how these determine various ways people view time while experiencing life’s rhythms unfold before them. Join us as we discover behind the scenes how these months were named which even nowadays carry weight.

Names of the Months and Their Significance

Month names have deep-seated historical backgrounds touching on centuries-old practices that have influenced our calendars. Each month’s name can be traced back to gods or natural phenomena like seasons implying different cultures’ relations towards time. Let us examine how these interrelations unfolded among other things during those twelve periods thereby finding some sense behind them.

January: The Door to the Year 

January sets off any new cycle it opens doors for novel beginnings like no other month in the Gregorian Calendar does. It owes its name to Janus a Roman god who was responsible for doorway transitions along with other initiations whose images always bore two faces one looked at yesterday while another peered towards tomorrow symbolising thinking about the past and future. In ancient Rome, January was a time of reflection, vows, and new starts. As such it functions as an “entryway to the year,” prompting us against fallen ways in favour of revived dreams.

February: Month of Purification

The briefest month has inherited ancient purification rituals. It is derived from the Latin word februum meaning ‘purification’. During this period in ancient Rome, February took place the ritual purifications that were meant to cleanse the city or its inhabitants. February marked the end of winter and consequently demarcated spring as a season for cleansing and renewal. Despite having few days, February strives at purity which would prepare nature for life again.

March: The Arrival of Spring

Spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere with March, which signals the end of winter stagnation and the reawakening of nature. The name comes from Mars, who is both Rome’s god of war and agriculture. In ancient Roman mythology, March was a month dedicated to its god of war, Mars, marked with festivals that celebrated life renewal and earth fertility. With lengthening days and increasing temperatures, it stands for growth, rejuvenation, and potentiality that accompanies a fresh start. It signifies an icy winter about to thaw into spring energy.

April: Month of Openings

April, often associated with blooming flowers and budding trees, symbolises the opening of possibilities and opportunities. Its name is thought to come from the Latin word “aperire,” meaning to open, reflecting the blossoming of nature during this time of year. In many cultures, April is a month of renewal, growth, and fertility, as the earth awakens from its winter slumber. It is a time for planting seeds, both literal and extended, and embracing the potential for growth and expansion.

May: The Month of Maia

May is named after Maia, the Roman goddess of fertility, growth, and spring. In Roman mythology, May was dedicated to Maia as a time to celebrate the abundance of nature and the vitality of life. As flowers bloom, animals mate, and fields flourish, May symbolises the peak of fertility and growth in the natural world. It is a month of vitality, abundance, and the joy of life renewed.

June: Honoring Juno

The name June is derived from Juno, the mother goddess of marriage, childbirth and family life in Roman mythology. During that time, June was considered the most favourable period for weddings since it was believed to be a month of blessings by Goddess Juno. The meaning behind June is about love, bonding and starting up a family. It’s a season of jubilation, happiness and hope for the future together when days become longer and sunshine brighter.

July: Quintilis to July

During ancient times July was called Quintilis which means “fifth” in Latin because it used to be the fifth month of the Roman calendar. However, after his death, it had been renamed after Julius Caesar who played a vital role in shaping Rome into an empire. This month represents the legacy of Julius Caesar as signifying power, leadership, and changes caused by eminent personages.

August: Sextilis to August

Originally called Sextilis due to its being the sixth month on the Roman calendar it was later renamed after Augustus Caesar who succeeded Julius Caesar as emperor of Rome and adopted son. This period in history was characterised by Augustus Caesar’s leadership and successes which led to stability and prosperity in the Roman Empire. It stands for strength and respect for authority.

September: The Seventh Month

The word September comes from ‘septem’ which means seven in the Latin language since this used to be seventh in number in the Roman calendar. Despite being ninth today in our modern calendar but retains its original name. Thus, the continuity tradition of Roman culture.

October: The Eighth Month

Just like September October originates from ‘octo’ which means eight in Latin because it used to be the eighth month according to that it was originally the eighth month according to our traditional Roman calendar. While being tenth nowadays October has kept its initial name thus indicating its origin concerning the autumn season change in time changes.

November: The Ninth Month

The word November comes from ‘novem’ which means nine in the Latin language since this was the ninth among the twelve months on the Roman calendar. As with September and October, it still retains its original titles as a consequence of its previous position in the calendar. Taking into account all these facts, November is associated with the remembrance of Thanksgiving and signals the commencement of winter.

December: The Tenth Month

The month of December gets its name from ‘decem’, which represents ten in Latin because it used to be the tenth month of the Roman calendar. Thus, despite moving up two places becoming the 12th month the name December has remained unchanged hence indicating the preservation of ancient history. Together all those give the sense that December is a culmination or finishing point because it marks a transition period towards New Year’s Day thus finishing one lap around the sun before starting another one later on January 1st of next year.


Our present calendar has been deeply anchored in the historical and cultural background of each month’s name which gives it a rich variety of traditions and meanings. The names of the months, ranging from the ancient Roman gods to influential leaders, tie us to history while guiding us through the rhythm of time. The never-ending human civilization endures with us on this journey through the twelve-name cycles as we seek always to give significance and purpose to days, months, and years.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why are the months July and August named after Roman emperors?

The July and August were originally named Quintilis and Sextilis, respectively. They were renamed in honour of Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, two important Roman leaders who left a lasting impact on history.

2. Has the naming of the months changed over time?

Yes, the naming of the months has evolved throughout history, by various cultures, traditions, and historical events. Some months have keep their original names, while others have been renamed or reorganised in different calendars.

3. What is the significance of February having fewer days?

February originally had 29 days, but during the time of Julius Caesar, it was adjusted to 28 days, with an extra day added every four years (leap year) to synchronise the calendar with the solar year.

4. Are there any other months named after gods or goddesses?

Yes, several other months are named after gods from various mythologies. For example, March is named after Mars, the Roman god of war, and April is thought to derive from the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

5. Do all cultures have twelve-month calendars?

While the twelve-month calendar is widely used globally today, not all cultures follow this system. Some cultures have lunar calendars, others have solar calendars, and some even have hybrid systems. Each culture’s calendar reflects its unique perspectives on time and its relationship.