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Ancient Mythology of The Calendar

Updated on January 1, 2013

Ancient Mythology, and Meanings Behind Our Calendar

In English, most of our weekday names are derived interchangeably between ancient Anglo-Saxon, Roman and Norse Gods.

Our names for the months of the year are derived almost exclusively from the Romans, however, they have many similar names in Greek.

Here is a brief overview of the astrological, mythological and symbolic origins we now associate with the days and months of our current English calendar.

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Roman and Greek Calendars

Greek and Roman Calendars: Constructions of Time in the Classical World
Greek and Roman Calendars: Constructions of Time in the Classical World

The story of these calendars is one of a continuous struggle to maintain a correspondence with the regularity of the seasons and the sun, despite the fact that the calendars were usually based on the irregular moon.

 

Weekday Names of the Gregorian Calendar - Origins of our Days of the Week


Each of the seven heavenly bodies seen in the sky in ancient times: the sun, the moon, the planets; Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn, each represent the seven days of the week in the modern Gregorian Calendar week.

Sunday the first day of the week is named after the Sun, Sunday translates from the Latin, "dies solis", or "Day of the Sun".

In Roman myth, Apollo was the god of the sun and of healing. Each day he was said to drive his chariot of horses across the sky to bring light to the world.

In Greek Mythology; Helios was the god of the Sun.

In Saxon, Sunnandaeg was the god of the heat and light.

Monday, the second day of the week, is named after the Moon. Monday translates from the Latin "dies lunae", or "Day of the Moon".

Luna, or Diana was the Roman goddess of the moon. Diana's twin brother Apollo, was the god of the sun.

In Saxon, mona was the god of the light ball in the night sky, and the maker of tides.

Tuesday, the third day of the week, in Latin is "dies martis" or "Day of Mars". But Tuesday is actually named for the day of "Tiw", or "Tiu", an old Saxon deity.

Tiu identifies with Tyr, which was the Norse god of war and the skies and was interchangeable with the Roman god Mars. In Roman myth, Mars, the God of War, was said to be the father of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The French word for Tuesday is "Mardi", as in Mardi Gras.

Wednesday is the fourth day of the week. The day of "Woden" is named for a Norse god. Old English spells the word as "Odin"; translated from the Latin "dies Mercuii", or "Day of Mercury". The name refers to the planetary god of Roman mythology.

Mercury, was also the god of travelers. He had a winged hat and sandals, so he could fly and carried a staff with two snakes winding around it.

Thursday is the fifth day of the week. The "Day of Thor", the Thunder god" is named for a Norse god, and is translated from the Latin "dies Jovis", or the "day of Jove".

Jove compares to the Roman planetary god Jupiter, and the Greek god Zeus.

Friday is the sixth day of the week. The Norse goddess Frigg, or Frigga, names that day. Frigg was the wife of Wodin, or Odin, and the goddess of marriage. The Latin translation is "dies Veneris", or the "day of Venus" who was the goddess of love.

Saturday is translated from the Latin "dies Saturni", or the "Day of Saturn".

Saturn was god of time and agriculture and his weapon was a scythe. He ruled all the gods before Jupiter. He was also called Old Father Time.

Romans held a mid-winter celebration, in honor of Saturn, called the Saturnalia.

Sources: Falk, Michael (1999). "Astronomical Names for the Days of the Week", Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 93:122

A Calendar of Wisdom.

A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World's Sacred Texts
A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World's Sacred Texts

Share the private observations that inspired Leo Tolstoy to discover the sacred in the ordinary, a century after he gleaned them from the world's most sacred texts. You'll feel as if a devoted spiritual guide, with a wink in his eye, has secretly helped you circumvent the laws of heaven and earth in order to nourish and sustain you on your own personal journey to wholeness. Savoring each day's passage fills me with gratitude, delight, and often awe. Here is a book to be cherished. -- Review

 

Month Names of the Roman or Julian Calendar

Roman Gods, Goddesses and Rulers

January is the first month of the Roman Calendar year.

~ it's original Roman name, "Lanuarius", is named after the Roman god Janus. Janus, was the god of beginnings, and endings and had two faces to see in opposite directions; symbolizing the past and the future

The Saxon term was Wulf-monath (meaning wolf month)

February is the second month of the Roman Calendar year.

This is the month of cleansing one's soul. A Roman purification festival, "Februa" was held every year on February 15. Thus, the month became known as Februa's month.

The Anglo-Saxon term February was "solmoneth" meaning month of mud.

March is the third month of the Roman Calendar year.

Named after the Roman planetary god of war, Mars, it typically signified the end of winter and the coming of war.

Mars equates to the Greek god Aries. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, beginning at the spring equinox.

Saxons named March, "lenctmonat" due to lengthening of days, which became the origin of the word Lent.

April is the fourth month of the Roman Calendar year.

The month of April begins with the Latin prefix "ap", meaning to open, because new buds blossom in this month.

It is a sacred month for the Roman goddess, Venus.

April probably comes from "Apru", an Etruscan version of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility.

The Anglo-Saxons called April, "Oster-monath" or "Eostur-monath", because Eostre or Ostara was the goddess of spring. It is from the celebration of this pagan goddess that Easter arose.

May is the fifth month of the Roman Calendar year.

May was named after the Greek and Roman goddess of growth, Maia.

In the pagan Wheel of the Year, May begins on Beltane in the northern hemisphere and Samhain in the southern hemisphere.

In the Irish calendar May 1 is Beltane, the first day of Summer.

June is the sixth month of the Roman Calendar year.

June named after the Roman goddess, Juno, who was known as the Queen of the gods and the wife of Jupiter.

The summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere occurs sometime between June 20th and June 22nd.

In the pagan, Wheel of the Year, the summer solstice is "litha" and the winter solstice is "yule".

In the Irish Calendar June is called "Meitheamh" and is the middle of their summer season.

July is the seventh month of the Roman Calendar year.

July was named for Julius Caesar and inserted after the original Julian Calendar was created.

In the Irish Calendar July is called "Iúil" and is the last month of Summer.

August is the eighth month of the Roman Calendar year.

Like July, August was inserted by Augustus Caesar, the adopted heir of Julius Caesar, under the modified Julian Calendar.

In Irish, it is known as "Lúnasa", from the god of skill, "Lugh".

August 1, "Lá Lúnasa" in the Irish Calendar, is the first day of Autumn.

September was originally the seventh month of the former Roman Calendar year.

From the Latin word "sept" meaning seven. September was changed to the ninth month of the Julian Calendar year following the additions of July and August.

October was originally the eighth month of the former Roman Calendar year.

"Octo" is Latin for eight. October became the tenth month of the Julian Calendar year following the additions of July and August.

In Scottish Gaelic, it is called "damhar", meaning "rutting time" for stags.

In Irish, October is called "Deireadh Fómhair", meaning the "end of harvest-time".

November was the ninth month of the former Roman Calendar year.

In Latin, "novem" means "nine".

November became the eleventh month of Julian Calendar year following the additions of July and August.

In the pagan Wheel of the Year, November begins near Samhain in the northern hemisphere and Beltane in the southern hemisphere.

December was the tenth month of the former Roman Calendar year.

"Dec" is Latin for ten.

December became the twelfth month of the Julian Calendar year following the additions of July and August.

In Irish, December is called "Mí na Nollaig", meaning "month of Christmas".

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII changed the calendar system to establish the Gregorian calendar, with January as the first month of the year.

The History of World Mythology - From National Geographic

National Geographic Essential Visual History of World Mythology
National Geographic Essential Visual History of World Mythology

Complementing our enormously successful offerings on the bible and history, National Geographic Essential Visual History of World Mythology encompasses myths and creation stories from around the globe. It presents a palm-size overview of culture-defining myths, from ancient Egyptian deities to the Vedic gods of India...from Maya, Inca, and Aztec legends to the Dream time of the Aborigines. This is a must-have resource for anyone who wants to know more about the stories that have shaped societies for millennia.

 

What is your Favorite Month?

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    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Very informative :) interesting.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 8 years ago

      Have I told you lately how much I enjoy your lenses? Very informative!!

    • Mortira profile image

      Mortira 8 years ago

      What a fun way to look at the calendar. It's interesting to see the difference between anglo and romance terms! Welcome to the Four Seasons group!

    • profile image

      VicM 8 years ago

      this truly is a very informative site and i enjoyed reading it... thanks ...

      best regards,

      Victoria

    • isabella lm profile image

      isabella lm 8 years ago

      Nice job! Thank you for adding this nice lens to the GREECE HEADQUARTERS.

      It will be hosted on the group's page! Ciao

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I like this lens. Good info succinctly given.

    • profile image

      scar4 6 years ago

      August, what does the ancient calendar say about it?

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      November. I like this lens; good read, not boring.

    • GaelicForge profile image

      GaelicForge 5 years ago

      April and December both hold dear places in my heart.

    • Vallygems1 profile image

      Vallygems1 5 years ago

      February : Great lens thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      June (birthday month and summer!)

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 4 years ago

      May (birthday, and wonderful springtime)

    • profile image

      Jayce 2 years ago

      Thanks for shragni. What a pleasure to read!

    • profile image

      Jayce 2 years ago

      Thanks for shragni. What a pleasure to read!

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