For my first blog post of 2015, let’s review some mythology surrounding the days and months of the year, and the history of calendars. Initially this theme caught my interest while doing some research for a paranormal story.
The ancient people expressed their reverence for nature and the unseen forces in many ways, and never missed an opportunity to honor their gods and goddesses.
Thor's Fight With The Giants by Marten Eskil Winge
The seven days of the week were named as follows:
Monday - Moon Day
Tuesday - Mars Day
Wednesday - Mercury Day (Woden, Odin, chief god the Norse pantheon)
Thursday - Jupiter Day (the equivalent of Thor, god of thunder in the Norse pantheon)
Friday - Venus Day (equal to Freyja, goddess of creativity and sexuality in the Norse pantheon)
Saturday - Saturn DaySunday - Sun Day
JANUARY – JANUS was a very unique god. He could look backwards and forwards at the same time. Have you ever heard the saying, “eyes in the back of your head”? Janus did one better than that – with an entire face. Which face looks backwards and which one looks forwards? Perhaps he is a reminder of linear time, and that on planet earth, the past, present and future are just one long time line. Janus may be reminding us not to forget what has happened in our past as we prepare in the now for the future.
Head of Janus, Vatican Museum, Rome - Author: Loudon Dodd
The naming of the months of the year in the Julian calendar, which was introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, is explained as follows:
January: Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates, beginnings and endings. It represents the unique energy of closing out the old and bringing in the new. (Januarius). Numa Pompilius added this month and it became the new first month of the year instead of the eleventh.
February: Februa or Februalia. Around 690 BC Numa Pompilius set this period at the end of the year in ancient Rome as a time of festivals and public gatherings for purification and repenting, when sacrifices were offered to atone for sins. The name comes either from there, or from the old Etruscan god of the underworld and purification, Februus. This was his sacred month.
March: Mars, god of war, was the namesake of this, the first month of the Roman year.
April: Aprilis, aperire, the Latin verb meaning “to open” (as in nature’s spring buds).
May: Maia, goddess of plant and vegetation growth, or Maiestra, goddess of reverence and honor. This was the third month of the Roman year. She was the wife of the god Vulcan.
June: junius, the Latin for the goddess Juno, known as queen of the gods.
July: Julius Caesar was born in this month, and it was named after him when he was assassinated in 44 B.C. Originally this month was called Quintilis (fifth month).
August: Named for the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar, in 8 B.C. because many fortunate events happened for him during this month which was previously called Sextilis.
September: septem, Latin for “seven” as the seventh month.
October: from octo, Latin for “eight” as the eighth month.
November: from novem, Latin for “nine” as the ninth month.
December: from decem, Latin for “ten” for the tenth month.
Freyja and Heimdall Who Returns Her Amber Necklace Brisingamen
The main reason given for changing from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar was to change the date of Easter, since the Julian calendar contained an 11 minute per year error.
Pope Gregory of the Catholic Church rearranged the calendar in 1582. His creation became known as the Gregorian calendar. January 1st became the first day of the new year. Most western nations celebrated it, although previously the first day of the new year was in March. Many Protestant and non-Catholic nations were suspicious of his motives, and held out as long as possible. Germany, for example, finally gave in and adopted the new calendar in 1610. Turkey was the last to change over, in the year 1926/27.
Britain and the American colonies did not convert to the Gregorian calendar until 1752. Up to then they celebrated the new year at the spring equinox on March 21st. Eleven days were removed by British Parliament from the old calendar – September 3 through September 13, 1752 ceased to exist – in order to move into alignment with western Europe. Russia resisted adopting the Gregorian calendar until after the Revolution in 1917.
Our Gregorian calendar also has a flaw, if less extreme. There is a discrepancy of 26 seconds per year with the solar year, despite Lilius’ best attempt at synching the new calendar with the seasons. Since Pope Gregory introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582, several hours of time difference has already accumulated. It is said that by the year 4909 our current Gregorian calendar will be off from the solar year by one full day.
The love affairs of the gods and goddesses often seemed more driven by lust and dominance than by romance. One ‘tidbit’ about Janus made my eyes widen, but by now I should be used to the violent self-expression of the gods. It is said that Janus raped Crane Grane or Carna, the nymph of the sacred wood of Helernus, and then elevated her to become goddess of hinges, Cardea.
Might this equate to the old ‘power behind the throne’ theory? After all, as god of gates and doors, where would he be without a hinge?
GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, teen son and a comical dog. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity. You can buy Gemma’s books on Amazon and visit her website http://www.gemmajuliana.com or follow on Twitter @Gemma_Juliana: https://twitter.com/gemma_juliana