Sunday, 31 October 2010


Following the pointless exercise of putting back the clocks by an hour (which means putting them forward 23 hours if they're digital) it dawns at the end of the tenth month that it is named for being the eighth month in the previous Julian calendar. Having some knowledge of the origins of the months of the year in the Western world I wondered if the the same meanings applied to the calendar months in other languages.

What resulted was the following:

English (in use for the majority of Western nations)
January - after the Roman god Janus.
February - from the purification ritual of Februa held on the 15th of the old Roman calendar.
March - named after the Roman god Mars.
April - traditionally from the Latin aperire "to open" and a reference to the bursting leaves and flowers of spring.
May - the Greek goddess Maia, associated with fertility.
June - the Roman goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter.
July - after the Roman emperor Julius Caesar
August - and after the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar.
September - the seventh month of the Julian calendar.
October - the eighth month of the Julian calendar.
November - the ninth month of the Julian calendar.
December - the tenth month of the Julian calendar.

Tishri - from an Akkadian (language of ancient Mesopotamia) word meaning 'to begin'.
Cheshvan - from Akkadian word for 'eighth month', Nisan being the first month of the year.
Kislev - a name meaning 'thickened' and a reference to the growth induced by the rains.
Tebet - thought be referring to 'the month of the body'.
Shevat - thought to be a reference to 'the month of trees'.
Adar - depending on the language of origin could be 'dreams' or 'father'.
Nisan - from Babylonian referring to the month when barley was ripe.
Iyar - again Babylonian and meaning 'Rosette or blossom'.
Sivan - from Akkadian meaning 'Season or time'.
Tammuz - named after the Babylonian god Tammuz.
Av - from the Babylonian calendar and thought to mean 'father'.
Elul - from the Akkadian word for 'harvest'.

Muharram - a name meaning 'forbidden'
Safar - three basic meanings for this word, although here most likely yellow or emptiness.
Rabi (1 & 2) - the (first and second) 'months beginning spring'.
Jumada (1& 2) - 'the dry months'.
Rajab - derived from a word meaning 'to respect'
Shaban - the month of ‘separation’, so called because Arabs dispersed in search of water.
Ramadan - it originally meant 'scorching heat'.
Shawwal - means 'to lift, carry' and the month when female camels would be pregnant.
Dhulquadar - means 'the master of truce' and one of the months when fighting is forbidden.
Dhulhija - means ‘possesor of the pilgrimage' and when the journey to Mecca is made.

Just to confuse matters further there are also another 41 calendars in current use elsewhere in the world, 21 more are known from ancient cultures, and we even have the Darian Calendar covering the 24 months of the year on Mars - itself later adapted to provide something for the walls of explorers to the Jovian moons of Io, Europa, Callisto, and Ganymere, and for those who venture to the Saturnian moon of Titan.

1 comment:

  1. Whatever happened to "Spring ahead, fall back? Though I am hardly an agrarian worker dependant upon the sun for my livelihood, I happen to enjoy the clock changes. A jump into the rebirth of everything natural, a return to one's home and hearth for the darker months. Looking forward to "falling" into autumn...