Unraveling the Origins: How the Months Got Their Names in Italian Language

The Naming of the Months

As time flows on, we’ve always had the inclination to name its passing. We frequently use the names of months, but have you ever wondered about the meanings behind these names and the individuals who assigned them? Look no further than the Romans for the origins.

The English (and Italian) month names find their roots in the ancient Roman calendar, which originally had only ten months, not the twelve we know today. The Roman year commenced in March, aligning with the opening of the agricultural season. In the 7th century BC, Emperor Numa Pompilio introduced January (Gennaio) and February (Febbraio) as the eleventh and twelfth months, but it wasn’t until the 2nd century BC that the months took on the sequence we recognize today.

Gennaio (January) derives its name from the Latin word Januarius, in honor of the Roman god Janus, who had two faces—one to look to the past and one to peer into the future.

Febbraio (February), named after the Roman goddess Febris, signifies purification.

Marzo (March) takes its name from Mars, the Roman god of war. Interestingly, March was the original first month of the Roman calendar, with January and February added later.

Aprile (April) is named after the Latin word “aperire,” which means “to open,” akin to how flowers bloom in the spring.

Maggio (May) is named after the Greek goddess Maia, the deity of the earth’s fertility.

Giugno (June) takes its name from the Roman goddess Juno, who was the wife of Jupiter, the god of marriage and childbirth.

Luglio (July) is named in honor of the Roman statesman Julius Caesar, corresponding to the month of his birth.

Agosto (August) takes its name from the Roman emperor Augustus.

Settembre (September), Ottobre (October), Novembre (November), and Dicembre (December) are named according to their positions in the Roman calendar, indicating they were the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months of the year, respectively.