When did we start using a calendar?
How did the months of the year get their names?
Have years always started in January and ended in December?
- 4236 B.C.E. Founding of the Egyptian calendar
- 2637 B.C.E. Emperor Huangdi invented the Chinese calendar
- 45 B.C.E. Julius Casear Changed the Roman year to the Julian calendar
- 1752 Great Britain and the American colonies accepted the Gregorian calendar
Even though our modern calendar is different from the calendar used by ancient Romans, they gave us something very important... the name of the months.
- March: The ancient Romans insisted that all wars cease during the time of celebration between the old and new years. Since March was the first month of the new year in ancient Rome, historians believe the Romans named March after Mars, the Roman God of war.
- April: Three theories exist regarding the origin of April's name. Some say April got its name from the Latin word meaning "second" since April was the second month on the ancient calendar. Others claim it comes from "aperire," a Latin word meaning "to open," because it represents the opening of buds and flowers in spring. Still others think April was named after the goddess Aphrodite.
- May: May was named after Maia, an earth goddess of growing plants.
- June: Apparently, June has always been a popular month for weddings! The Romans named June after Juno, the queen of the gods and patroness of marriage and weddings.
- July: July was named after Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. Previously, July was called "Quintilis," which is Latin for "fifth."
- August: August was named after Augustus Caesar in 8 B.C. Previously, August was called "Sextillia," which was Latin for "sixth." Though we think of September, October, November and December as months 9, 10, 11 and 12, these months were 7, 8, 9 and 10 on the ancient Roman calendar. This is how they got their names.
- September: September's name comes from septem, Latin for "seven."
- October: October's name comes from octo, Latin for "eight."
- November: November's name comes from novem, Latin for "nine."
- December: December's name come from decem, Latin for "ten."
- February: Around 690 B.C., Numa Pompilius turned a period of celebration at the end of the year into a month of its own, named after the festival Februa. This is how February got its name.
January: Later, Pompilius added another month to the beginning of the year and named it January after Janus, the God of beginnings and endings.
The Atomic Clocks
In 1972 Atomic Time replaced Earth Time as the world's official scientific time standard. The word hour comes from the Greek word "hora", which was used to mark a time or season. The custom of marking a day by a 24 hour system was invented by the Babylonians. The method of marking an hour by 60 minutes came from the Sumerians. Today we still use their way of marking time by 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour.
The measurement of time is currently determined by an international consortium based in France which averages the time from approximately 220 atomic clocks in over two dozen countries. The atomic clock is the only object that both tells time and generates a precise time scale.
Every month, the official world time is adjusted by a few nanoseconds. Politically, time is a cooperative venture. By making time an international endeavor, the international community benefits from the combined resources of many laboratories.
World time is typically adjusted every year by adding what is called a "leap second." Because the time calculated by the position of the sun differs from the time calculated by the atomic standard, it is occasionally necessary to adjust international time standards to match the position of the Earth.
Just like other things we use nearly every day, we take our calendars for granted, never thinking about how or where they came from. Every now and then it is nice to pause for a few minutes and reflect back on how all of this came about.
For clip art of more calendars, follow this link where you will find an aztec calendar and lots more.
For clip art of a flower of the month calendar just follow this link.