Calendar: a system for measuring the days and months of the year.

Calendar comes from the only word in Latin that uses the letter K, Kalendae.  The Kalendae, to the Romas, was the first day of the month.  It was also the day debts were due and accounts were reckoned.

Yesterday, I posted December as the word of the day.  On Facebook, one reader asked:

So wait were there originally only 10 months? Or were there 11? When did February get added?

Here is my response.Honestly, it’s a mess.  Though obscured by deep history, it seems the Roman year once consisted of 304 days divided into ten months.  The ten months were:

  • Martius (from Mars, Roman god of war)
  • April (possibly derived from Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty… but, no one knows for sure)
  • May (from Maia, a Roman goddess and wife of Vulcan.  Shout out to Birmingham, Alabama.  If you know, you know.)
  • Quintilis (fifth)
  • Sextilis (sixth)
  • September (seventh)
  • October (eighth)
  • November (ninth)
  • December (tenth)

According to the stories, the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius added January to the beginning of the year.  He also added February to the end of the year, right after December.  At some point, left home and moved in between January and March.

By the first century B. C. the entire calendar was a mess.  The Roman calendar, at this point still a lunar calendar, lasted 355 days.  Now and then, to make the math work, the Pontifex Maximus (high priest of Rome), would declare a bonus month of 28 days, or so.

Things got even messier when politicians, in order to stay in office longer, would lobby to extend the bonus time.

When Julius Caesar came to power, he initiated calendar reforms.  These reforms moved the calendar closer to the calendar we know and love today.  Julius also managed to get a month named after himself.  Quintilis became July.

Caesar Augustus, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, did the same.  Sextilis became August.

Inspired by those guys, I have written my congressman, and have asked for December to be renamed Dwanember.  Still waiting to hear back from him.


Almost every Saturday, I send out a Tip of the Week.  The tip of the week is usually something I have picked up along the way that may make your life a little easier.  If you would like to hear from me (almost) every Saturday, just go to the home page of my site and plug in your name and email.   You will also get a free digital copy of my book on learning Latin (and almost anything else).  Just go here:

If you want to buy the digital book instead (because you just feel like buying me a cup of coffee) go here:

If you are interested in learning Latin, you can go through the classes on my site 24/7.  I recommend the book Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.  If you tackle the book and find yourself bogged down, you may find the classes on my site helpful.  To join, just click here:

If you want a more professionally filmed experience, check out the best-selling DVD series: Visual Latin.

Or, if you want to skip Latin, and just jump right into learning English words from Latin and Greek roots, you may enjoy the series Word Up!  Warning.   Word Up! is a bit wacky.  You will learn a lot… but, you may find yourself rolling your eyes, too.
I teach other languages on my site, too.  The current schedule is here:

By the way, some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Not trying to pull a fast one on you. I only promote what I believe in. Not only that, but commissions from affiliate links allow me to continue offering training and books at low prices and sometimes free.