12 Months

2 min
at 10:43 PM

There are 12 months, each with its own personality. So of course anything with personality has to have a name, and the names tells us where they came from.

January is named for Janus, the Roman god of portals. He is always depicted with one face facing forward and the other backward. And January 1 has always been a time of reflection on the past and some potential actions for the coming year.

Febra was the Roman festival of purification. This was generally held on the 15th of February. And the idea was to have some spring-cleaning.

March is named for the god of war, Mars. This used to be the first day of the year for the ancient Romans. And that makes perfect sense because much is beginning anew in this month. Mars was not only the god of war but also the guardian of agriculture.

April is named for the beautiful goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. How perfect is that? The time when the world becomes luscious and full of wildflowers.

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May means "the great one". The great one was Maia, the goddess of the spring. She is associated with growth, though ironically not with sexual union, even though we still celebrate the Maypole, the dance symbolizing the union of male and female.

No, it is June when couples get married. Juno is the goddess of marriage and the well-being of females.

July is the month of Julius Caesar. He created a new calendar that was more accurate than the old one. And in his own honor he named a really nice month for himself.

Continuing in the spirit of self-aggrandizing, Augustus Caesar continued to improve the calendar and named this month for himself. And now September, October, November, December-that is, 7,8, 9,10. I suspect those two months added by the Roman emperors pushed these months forward.

So from seasonal identity to imperial ego to misplaced math the months give our calendar plenty of personality.

This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.

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Michael Ellis is a naturalist. He lives in Santa Rosa.

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