Roman Months

photo of november calendar
Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

My correspondent, Morcus Porcus, pointed out the error of my opening statement for my post on November November- the month of immolations:

The 9th Month of the Roman Calendar 9 being ‘novem’. Now its the 11th because they needed to add months to glorify Julius Caesar and Augustus.

In fact, the pre-existing months were simply renamed. Romans talk of a ‘legendary’ calendar being set up by Romulus which consisted of 10 months of 30 and 31 days followed by a winter period which brought the year towards the number of days in the celestial cycle. Apparently, it was not well regulated and the months eventually began to lose their integration with the seasons.

The year began in March, suitable names were given to March, April, May and June but the next 6 months were given numbers as below.

Table from Wikipedia

The Calendar was reformed several times; January and February added but the major reform was instigated by Julius Caesar in 46BC with the so-called ‘Year of Confusion’. This first year of the introduction of the Julian calendar was 445 days long to realign the seasons, and began on January 1st, with 365 days, 12 months and a 4 year leap year cycle. This held sway until the 16th Century when a further reform was ordered by Pope Gregory as the year is not exactly 365.25 days long. It was not adopted in the UK until the 18th Century when we lost 11 days to align ourselves with Europe.

My walk at New Year called ‘Ring in the New Year’ deals with issue of calendars through the ages.

More on the Ides and the Kalendes of the month

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