How Well Do You Know The Winter Months?

Coliseum in Rome with Snow by Stefano Costantini via CC 2.0

In the old days, (very old, before 713 BCE), the Romans had ten months in their calendar – ten months in their year of 304 days. The year began on March 1 and ended December 31. The 62 or 63 days in-between were just “Winter” and were not considered “in” any designated month. This is why the names of our months today, in English, from the Latin, seem mis-numbered. October, from the Latin for eight is the tenth month, similarly with September through December.

Roman calendar – parapegma (III – IV c. C.E.) 6 de april 2018
Origine Obra proprie
Autor Лобачев Владимир
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


January and February were the final additions to the Roman calendar, giving the winter days months to belong to, by the decree of Numa Pompilius around 713 BCE.

The Roman god of doors, Janus, was the namesake for January. Other names for the month have been “Wulf-monath, Saxon for wolf month, and “Wintarmanoth”, named by Charlemagne, meaning “cold month.”

Statue of Janus 傑纳士像 Taken on 8 May 2005
Author lienyuan lee
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.


Februum, Latin for purify, is the basis of February, as the Roman ritual, “Februa” was held on the full moon occurring in the newly established month. An alternate name was “Somonath, meaning “mud month” in Old English.


Beginning with the establishment of the Julian calendar in 45 BCE, the length of February was set at 28 days in common years, 29 days every four years, called a Leap Year. This was changed to exempt century years not divisible by 4 when our current calendar, the Gregorian, became the standard, in 1582 A.D.

In the Middle Ages, (1100 to 1453), the new year began, and the calendar year changed, at different times of the year in Europe. March 25 (or the actual vernal equinox) was a common start of the year.

Beginning in the 1500’s, January 1 became the official New Year’s day. Until then, the year began on March 1 in Russia. England and its possessions, including the Thirteen American colonies changed the year number and celebrated New Year’s Day on March 25 until 1752.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *