DECember

What started out on the CSI Leader Discussion about the last of the DCP for this decade has turned into a fun little debate. The discussion was on when a decade ends and begins. Almost 2 years ago I did a blog on Frīgedæg, which is old English for Friday. It is  a fun read and you can enter the “way-back-machine” by clicking the link https://www.csinext.org/the-artichoke-s-life/frigedaeg But back to the present. The discussion got me thinking about the end of decade, then December.

If you haven’t put it together, my mind is a scary place. My mind kind of wanders aimlessly until it finds something shiny. Connecting the dots, but these dots are as numerous as the stars in the sky. OK, see… back to the point. If we take a moment, the names of the months are a little odd. December is the 12th month, but DEC is 10. Just as in DECade. The if we work backwards, we have the same challenge. NOVember is the 11th month but it is NOV is 9. OCTober is the 10th month, but OCT is 8. Finally, SEPTember is the 9th month, SEPT is 7. The rest of the year just appears to be random.

We have to go back to the source for the names of the months. These have their roots in Roman times. If we look at the Roman calendar, it actually started in March. Which make sense because spring is about new beginnings. Starting in March, the names SEPTember, OCTober, NOVember and DECember make complete sense. Also, the Roman calendar was only 10 months. 

But why is the first month March? Shouldn’t it be UNUSber, or something of the sort? March is actually named after the Roman God of War. If we keep breaking down, there is some poetry to the first 4 months names.

  • March: God of War
  • April: takes its name from the Latin word aperire, meaning ‘to open’ just like a flower
  • May: named after the Greek goddess Maia. She is one of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes. Which does seem to be a little random.
  • June: Named after the Roman goddess Juno – the god of marriage and childbirth (which in a 10-month calendar, this makes sense… almost everyone would have a June birthday, but those 10 months did not immediately start over, keep reading and we will keep this rated PG and move along)

The big switch then happens next when it comes to the names of the months. Originally in the Roman calendar July was Quintilis (5th Month) and August was Sextilis (6th Month). But just like everything else we need to rename and honor, that is why across the nation we have all those MLK boulevards, which is a good thing for those who bring us positive change. Quintilis was changed to July and named after Julius Caesar. This took place shortly after his assignation in 44BC, Quintilis was chosen because it was the month of his birth. And then in 8BC, Sextilis was also changed to honor Augustus Caesar. This was not the month of his birth, but because several of the most significant events in his rise to power including the fall of Alexandria in that month. 

Finally, where did we get to more months. The root word for month is Moon. A moon cycle was 28 days. This would cause a 10-month calendar to get messed up. Not really, the roman calendar did not cycle with the moon. They had an 8-day week and winter was left with an unassigned number of days to get March to start in the spring. This winter period was finally divided into two new months, January and February. January is named after the Roman god Janus. Which was a two-faced god looking into the future and past. February is named after an ancient Roman festival of purification called Februa. 

So, there you have it, what started out as a discussion on Decades turned into the 10 months of the original Roman calendar. The corrections of the calendar over time is just as fascinating. I might save it for another blog in some other month. For now, just know that most calendar adjustments were to get religious celebration in the correct season. Now we only adjust our calendar every 4 years, and yes next year in one of those years where we get a February 29th. Happy Leap Year 2020!

…and now for something completely different.
Donald duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn’t wear pants.

 

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Monday, 17 February 2020