What Are the Meanings of the Names of the Months in English, Spanish, and Romanian?

You may wonder why I choose Spanish and Romanian to include with English. I actually speak both of those languages fluently, so it makes it easier for me to blog about them. And, in a blog like this one, just including two Latin languages will help you really understand where the names of our months of the year came from in English.  Some of our months of the year are names with numbers like the Korean and Japanese months, but some of them go back to our ancestors as religions people too. A couple of them go back to the ego of the man who originally made the calendar. Now, I am going to talk about these months and what the names mean.

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Of course, I will begin with January. However, from what I understand, the original calendar in Rome didn’t have January or February. The original calendar only had ten months, and these months were added later.  For those of you who had high school Spanish, you may remember that January in Spanish is enero. No, they don’t capitalize it. Neither do they capitalize it in Romanian, but their January is closer to English, ianuarie.  This month was originally named for the Roman god of gates and doorways. His name was Janus.  If you look at the English, the Spanish, and the Romanian, you can see what all three languages have is just a modification of Janus.

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Next, we go to February, another month that was added later.  In old Rome, they had a purification festival on February 15th.  It was called Februa.  You can see this is where they got the English name for February.  In Spanish, this month is called febrero, and in Romanian februarie.  The similarities between these names are much easier to see than for January.

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March is the next month.  After reading my blog about the days of the week, you might guess where the name of March came from. March is named after the Roman god of war, Martius or Mars.  In Spanish, they say marzo, and in Romanian, martie.  They are all just renditions of the same word.

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April comes after March.  Do you remember the name Aphrodite? Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and in Rome, she was called Venus.  Latin is the language the Romans used, and Spanish and Romanian are both Latin languages.  They both have a rendition of Aphrodite just like we do.  In Spanish, they say abril, and in Romanian, they say aprilie.

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Following April, we have May.  May is named after the old Italian goddess, Maia, the wife of Vulcan.  Maia was the goddess of spring.  The names for this month are also not far from English in Spanish and Romanian.  In Spanish, they say mayo, and in Romanian, they say mai.

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Next, the 6th month, June, is also named after a Roman goddess, the goddess Juno.  Juno’s counterpart in the Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses was Hera. Hera was the wife of Zues, and Juno was the wife of Jupiter.  Zues and Jupiter were both considered the king or head god, the god of lightening and thunder.  Zues or Jupter was the son of Cronos or Titan, the earth.  Hera for the Greeks, and the same goddess, Juno for the Romans, was the goddess of the marriage and the home. Hera was not only Zues’ wife and Juno was not only Jupiter’s wife, but Hera was also Zues’ sister, and Juno was Jupiter’s sister.  In Spanish, June is junio, and in Romanian, iunie. With all these names, it seems that we just changed the pronunciation to fit the language, but stayed with the same basic name.

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July is the month where the names begin not being named after the gods and goddesses.  Julius Caesar made the first calendar in 46 B. C.  He named July after himself, Julius. The Spanish say this month julio, and the Romanians, iulie.

August is also named after a Caesar, Augustus Caesar.  In Spanish, August is agosto, and in Romanian, it is august.

The next month, September, is not named after a god or after a Caesar.  It is like the Korean and Japanese months.  It is a little easier to see if you know the word for seven in Romanian is sapte, and in Spanish, it is siete.  The name for September in Spanish is septiembre, and in Romanian, it is septiembrie.  September was originally the seventh month and not the ninth month when Julius Caesar made the first calendar.  The original name for seven in Latin was septem.

October is like September. It was named with the Latin number eight.  In Spanish, eight is ocho, and in Romanian eight is opt.  If you think about an octopus, we know the octopus has eight legs and that “octo” means eight.  In Spanish, October is octubre, and in Romanian, it is octubrie.  October was originally the eighth month when Julius Caesar made the calendar.  The original word for eight in Latin was octo.

Again, November is named for the month it originally was, nine rather than for the eleventh month it is today.  In Romanian, the word for nine is noua, and in Spanish the word for nine is nueve.  In Romanian, November is noiembrie, and in Spanish, it is noviembre.  The original word for nine in Latin was novembrie.

Yes, the last month of the year is named because it was originally not the twelfth month, but the tenth month, December.  Ten in Spanish is diez, and in Romanian zece.  You can see it easier in Spanish than in Romanian.  However, the name of the month in Spanish is diciembre, and in Romanian, it is decembrie.  The original word for ten in Latin was decem.

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Greeks influenced the Romans a lot.  The Romans influenced the English speakers a lot, and the descendants of the Romans carried on, but changed the words a bit.  Language is living, and so changes with time.  The meanings of many of our words change over time in English, and they do the same in other languages.  This is how accents, then dialects, and then separate languages are formed.  Originally, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian were all one language. French is also classified as a Latin language, but French is a mixture of Latin and Gaelic.  A lot of times, I think of Romanian as being a mixture of Latin and a dialect of Greek because Dacia, Romania’s old name, was Thracian, and Thracians were Greeks.  There are a lot of similarities between Italy and Romania, but also between Greece and Romania.  As you can see, European languages have a lot in common. If we try to learn one, it is much easier for us than trying to learn the oriental languages, and it is easier for an oriental to learn another oriental language than to try to learn a European language.  Still, we go back to our European ancestors seeming to name months more in religious ways than the oriental ancestors who named their months.

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