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Calendar
Months

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Etymology
General
Specific
The Hebrew calendar

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Months

Etymology

There were originally only ten months in the Roman calendar; January and February were added in about 150 BC. Before this, apparently, the days of what we know as January and February didn't belong to any month.

Click to show or hide the answer Named after the god of beginnings and transitions (Janus) – whose name in turn is derived from the word for a door (ianua)
Click to show or hide the answer Named either after the old-Italian god Februus, or else from februa, the festivals of purification celebrated in Rome during this month
Click to show or hide the answer Named after the Roman god of war (Mars)
Click to show or hide the answer Uncertain – possibly from the Latin verb meaning "to open" (aperire), in allusion to its being the season when trees and flowers begin to open
Click to show or hide the answer Named either after the eldest of the Pleiades (Maia – the mother, by Zeus, of the Greek god Hermes), or after the Roman goddess of honor and reverence and the wife of the god Vulcan (Maiesta – who may in fact be the same being)
Click to show or hide the answer Named after the wife of Jupiter and the queen of the Roman gods (Juno)
Click to show or hide the answer Named in honor of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, the year of his assassination; it was the month in which he was born. Previously known as Quintilis (the fifth month)
Click to show or hide the answer Named after the first Roman emperor (Augustus – because several fortunate events of his life occurred during this month). Previously known as Sextilis (the sixth month)
Click to show or hide the answer The seventh month of the ancient Roman calendar
Click to show or hide the answer The eighth month of the ancient Roman calendar
Click to show or hide the answer The ninth month of the ancient Roman calendar
Click to show or hide the answer The tenth month of the ancient Roman calendar

The table below lists the Zodiac signs and the months of the French revolutionary calendar alongside the months in which they begin. (Birthstones correspond exactly with the months.)

The Sun enters each Zodiac sign on either the 20th, 21st, 22nd or 23rd day of the calendar month.

In the French revolutionary calendar, each month had 30 days. The year began after the Autumn equinox; so the first month, Vendémiere, began on either the 22nd, 23rd or 24th of September. The day of the "standard" calendar month on which each French month began then moved progressively backwards through the year, until Fructidor began on the 18th or 19th of August. The five or six "complementary days" began after the 30th day of Fructidor – i.e. on the 17th or 18th of September.

The French revolutionary calendar was used for about 12 years, from late 1793 until 1805, and again for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871.

Month Birthstone(s) Zodiac sign French Republican
January Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
February Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
March Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
April Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
May Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
June Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
July Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
August Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
September Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
October Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
November Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer
December Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

Specific

First day in the astrological calendar Click to show or hide the answer
First sign of the Zodiac Click to show or hide the answer
Twelfth and last sign of the Zodiac Click to show or hide the answer
Only sign of the Zodiac that isn't a living (or mythical) creature Click to show or hide the answer
Month that's traditionally known or described as 'filldyke' Click to show or hide the answer
Month that (proverbially) "comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb" Click to show or hide the answer
Longest month of the year in Britain (because the clocks go back!) Click to show or hide the answer

The Hebrew Calendar

I don't think I've ever been asked anything about the Hebrew calendar, except to be given a list of words (for example, "Kislev, Iyar and Tammuz") and asked what they are – the answer being "Months of the Hebrew (or Jewish) calendar". (A particularly inventive one would be "Which Japanese car manufacturer has the same name as a month in the Hebrew calendar?")

The Hebrew calendar is based strictly on the lunar cycle, which means that each month lasts 29 or 30 days. Every few years (about every three, if my calculations are right) there's an intercalary month – an extra month, a bit like the extra day in a leap year.

As you can imagine, this means that there is no exact correlation between the months of the Hebrew calendar and those of the Gregorian one that we're all familiar with. The following table lists the months, and the approximate months in the Gregorian calendar that they correspond to – just to put them in context.

Because it's the way we do things round here, I've hidden the names of the Hebrew months. This doesn't mean that I expect anybody to learn them – I only expect you to see what they are, so that you'll recognise them if you get asked a question of the sort I've described above.

Mar–Apr Click to show or hide the answer Apr–May Click to show or hide the answer May–Jun Click to show or hide the answer Jun–Jul Click to show or hide the answer
July–Aug Click to show or hide the answer Aug–Sep Click to show or hide the answer Sep–Oct Click to show or hide the answer Oct–Nov Click to show or hide the answer
Nov–Dec Click to show or hide the answer Dec–Jan Click to show or hide the answer Jan–Feb Click to show or hide the answer Feb–Mar Click to show or hide the answer

Av is sometimes referred to as Menachem Av (literally Father Comfort), but "mostly only in the sanctification of the month recited on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh and following Tisha B'Av". (Sorry, I have no idea what this means; for more details, please refer to Wikipedia …)

Marcheshvan is sometimes known as Cheshvan for short.

© Haydn Thompson 2017