Wednesday, September 30

october and other moonths

Did you ever wonder why the tenth month is called October? "Octo" is a Latin prefix meaning eight, for example octagon, octopus, octave, etc. "Decem" would signify ten, as in the words decade, decimal, decathlon.

As it turns out, the Romans used to begin the year in the month of Mars, the god of war. This month is called March. So, starting with March as month 1, we fall into a pattern where SEPTember is # 7, OCTOber #8, NOVember #9, and DECEmber #10.

Interestingly, February comes from the Latin Februum, which means "purification." February being the last month of the year, it was thought of as a month of cleansing, before the new year began.

Other months are named after gods. January is named after Janus. May, from Maya, a Roman earth goddess. June, from Juno, the goddess of women and marriage. We get words like junior from the same root, which may also have been used to mean young ones.

April is named for the goddess Venus, aka Aphrodite, aka Apru. There are many names of the goddess, including austron, astarte, istar, and these words eventually give us the woman's name Esther, and the holy day "Easter" which happens to fall in the month of Venus. The folk name for April was "eastermonad." Have a look at some other words that come from this same goddess root- asterisk, and star. I find it fascinating that Easter Island was so named due to the date of its "discovery," but the native Polynesian name for it was "Mata-kite-ran" which translates as "the eyes that watch the STARS."

July used to be called Quintilis, due to it's being the fifth month of the old system, however was renamed to honor Julius Caesar, who was born in that month.

A similar story for August, which was renamed to honor Augustus Casaer. Augustus meant something favorable, and we find that word still in use in the form of augury, and augment. August's former name was weodmanad, or "weed month."

Before the Romanization, and deification of the month names, the old English names often had an earthly, agricultural significance.

February used to be called "solmonad" (mud month), May was "primilce" (the month in which cows can be milked three times a day), June was "lide se aerra" (early mildness), July was "lida se aefterra" (later mildness), September was "haerfestmanad" (harvest month), our own October was "winterfylled," since winter was supposed to begin on the full moon (fylleth) of this month. November was called "blotmonad" (blood month) since that was the time when the Saxons would sacrifice many animals, butchering them and storing the meat for the winter.

1 comment:

Heath said...

you're so smart and interesting.