Why Isn't October the Eighth Month?
October 08, 2012
If an octagon has eight sides, why isn’t october the eighth month?
Good question! An octagon has 8 sides, but October is clearly not the 8th month of the year. In fact, I had never really thought about this until college, when I enrolled in Roman Civilization courses. The entire history of the calendar is fascinating, but I’ll give you a quick rundown.
Originally, there were ten months in the Roman calendar, which was basically a lunar calendar. The ten months were Martius (March), Aprilis (April), Maius (May), Iunius (June), Quintilis (Fifth), Sextilis (Sixth), September (Seventh), October (Eighth), November (Ninth), December (Tenth). Those Romans were REALLY original, weren’t they? Did you notice that there was no January or February? They were added later, thus confusing the order of months and frying brains everywhere! See, the Romans thought that winter was a monthless time of year, and therefore, there were additional days in between December and March. This wasn’t very organized (for good reason), and those days were eventually split up into two months: January, named for Janus, the Roman god of tradition, beginnings, and doorways, and February, named for the purification ritual held on the day of the full moon just before March.
So, because of the Romans, our months don’t add up. One final note, Quintilis and Sextilis were renamed to honor Julius Caesar’s birth (in Quintilis) and Octavian Augustus’s conquests, which occurred during Sextilis. Now, we know them as July and August. If you want even MORE information about the history of the calendar, check our catalog. You can also look up Ancient Rome in the catalog or in one of my favorite databases, Daily Life Through History.
Well, if you read this and enjoyed it, I thank you. If you read it and hated it, at least you’ll have some fodder for trivia night.
Red Bridge Branch