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List and Origin of Month Names

Month name list

The concept of months originated from the cycle of the moon. The lunar cycle refers to the time it takes for the Moon to complete one orbit, around the Earth. This cycle usually lasts 29.5 days; it is likely that observing the different phases of the Moon played a part in developing the lunar calendar.

In the past civilisations such as the Egyptians relied on the calendar to keep track of time. The Babylonians used to divide the year into 12 months.  Each month marked the beginning of when the new Moon was sighted. The Egyptians used the lunar calendar, but they added an extra month to the calendar.  This practice was carried out periodically to monitor the variation, between solar years.

The concept of months was later adopted by the Romans, who named many of the months after their gods and goddesses. In 45 BCE, the Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar.  It was a solar-based calendar that divided the year into 12 months.  There were either 30 or 31 days. February was the only month with 28 days, but in leap years, it had 29 days.

The calendar we use today was known as the Gregorian calendar and was introduced in 1582, by Pope Gregory XIII. It is also a solar-based calendar and is used by most of the world today. It consists of 12 months.  The first month of the year is January and December is the last. The lengths of the months vary, with some having 30 or 31 days and February having either 28 or 29 days in a leap year.

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Knowing how the concept of month works

The concept of months is based on the solar year.  This is the time the Earth takes to complete one orbit around the sun. The solar year is approximately 365.25 days long, which is why we have leap years every four years to account for the extra quarter day.

In a calendar that is based on the solar year, months are used to divide the year into smaller units. The Gregorian calendar has 12 months. 

The lengths of the months vary, with some having 30 or 31 days and February having either 28 or 29 days in a leap year. The number of days in each month was determined by historical, religious, and practical reasons.

The months of the year are traditionally associated with various cultural and religious celebrations, seasonal changes, and astronomical events. For example, June is named after Juno.  Juno was the Roman goddess of marriage.  September is named after the Latin word “seven,” even though it is the ninth month of the year.

The concept of months is a way of dividing the solar year into smaller units.  This was done to make it easier to track the length of time and to organize cultural and religious activities.

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Month name list and the meaning of month names

The 12 months have traditional meanings and origins.  Below are the month name list and the meaning of month names.

  1. January – named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, who had two faces that looked to the past and future.
  1. February – named after Februa, a Roman festival of purification, which was held on February 15th.
  1. March – named after Mars, the Roman god of war, who was also associated with agriculture and the new growth of spring.
  1. April – the origin of the name is unknown, but it may have originated from the Latin word “aperire.” Meaning “to open,” like the opening of spring buds.
  1. May – named after Maia, the Roman goddess of growth and fertility, who was also identified with the Greek goddess Maia.
  1. June – Named after Juno, the mythological queen of gods was revered as the goddess of marriage and childbirth.
  1. July – Originally known as Quintilis, which meant “fifth month”, in the Roman calendar it was later renamed to honour Julius Caesar, a respected Roman general and statesman who made significant reforms to the Roman calendar.
  1. August – originally called Sextilis, meaning “sixth month” in the Roman calendar, but was later renamed in honour of Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor.
  1. September – from the Latin word “septem,” meaning “seven.” In the Roman Calendar, it was the seventh month.
  1. October – from the Latin word “octo,” meaning “eight.” In the Roman Calendar, it was originally the eighth month.
  1. November – from the Latin word “novem,” meaning “nine.” In the Roman Calendar, it was originally the ninth month.
  1. December – from the Latin word “decem,” meaning “ten,” In the Roman Calendar, it was originally the tenth month.

It is important to note that some of the month names in other calendars and cultures have different origins and meanings.

Age at which we can teach the concept of month names to children

Children can start understanding the idea of months, usually around 2 to 3 years old. At this stage of development children may not have an understanding of the intricacies of the calendar or the specific names assigned to each month. However, they can begin to identify recurring patterns and establish routines that are associated with times throughout the year.  For instance, holidays and seasons.

As children get older, they can start to learn more about the months and their names.  They can further learn how they relate to the passage of time. This can be reinforced through activities such as counting down the days until a special event or marking the changing of the seasons with seasonal crafts or activities.

In elementary school, children are typically taught the names and order of the months. They also learn about the history and significance of various holidays and cultural celebrations that occur during different months of the year.

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Strategies to teach month names to children

Here are some strategies to teach months to children:

  • Use a calendar: A calendar is a great visual aid for teaching children about the months. You can point to each month and say its name, and talk about special events or holidays that occur during that month.
  • Sing a song: “The Months of the Year Song” or “The Calendar Song.” Singing these songs with your child can help them remember the names of the months in a fun and engaging way.
  • Create a memory game: Make a memory game by writing the names of each month on separate cards, and have your child match the cards with the corresponding month. You can also use pictures or symbols associated with each month to make the game more engaging.
  • Use seasonal themes: Use the changing seasons as a way to teach your child about the months. For example, talk about how the leaves change colour in the fall, and explain that this happens during the month of October.
  • Make it fun: Incorporate games, crafts, and other fun activities into your teaching to make learning about the months more engaging for your child. For example, you could create a calendar together and mark special events or holidays with stickers or pictures.

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At EuroSchool we believe the concept of months is introduced gradually and in age-appropriate ways as children grow and develop.  Remember to be patient and take a gradual approach when teaching your child about the months. Learning the months of the year takes time and practice, so make sure to reinforce what they have learned and celebrate their progress along the way.

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