Italian language: Names of months in Italian - part 2

Jul 24, 2022 905

Hello everyone! Summer has finally come, July has begun, and we are ready to continue learning about the months in Italian. Last we left off, we ended with giugno, so it is now time to learn the remaining six months. 

Let’s start with July, luglio. During Roman time, luglio was originally called quintilis, but it was changed to Iūlius to honor Julius Caesar who was born in this month. It seems like before becoming its modern form, which comes from Tuscan (which, as you well remember, is the father of the modern Italian language), there was a time when this month was called giuglio ­– again reinforcing the reference to Julius Caesar, which in Italian is Giulio Cesare. It was, therefore, a month clearly dedicated to him, to honor his birth, and his deeds. 

Another month that was dedicated to a Roman Leader is August, Agosto. This month was named after Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor, who was not born in August – like Julius Caesar who was born in the month named after him – but he died in August, more precisely on August 19th. However the main reason this month was named after Octavian Caesar Augustus is that he received his first mandate as a consul in August. As we mentioned before, the calendar organization changed in history, in fact August was at first named sextilis in the Roman calendar, since it was the sixth month, but then it became the eight month, just like now, when the calendar proposed by Julius Caesar was adopted. It became Augustus much later, around 8 B.C.E. 

Why do I keep on mentioning the position of the month in the year? Well, it’s not only important for its previous name, but also because that is still true for modern months as well. Settembre – September – for example, comes from septĕmber -bris, which derives from semptem, which means sette – seven. It was, in fact, the seventh month on the Roman calendar. The same goes with the remaining months: ottobre – October – comes from octōber -bris, which comes from the Latin number octo, otto – eight – because it was the eighth month of the Roman calendar, and only in the Julian and Gregorian calendar it took its tenth place; novembre ­– November – november -bris, which comes from novem, nove – nine – since it was the ninth month of the Roman calendar, the month dedicated to the goddess Diana; and lastly, dicembre – December – comes from the Latin decĕmber -bris, which derives from decem, dieci – ten – since it was the tenth month of the year. 

To conclude I’d like to tell you a fun little rhyme most Italians use to remember how many days each month has: trenta giorni ha novembre, con aprile, giungo e settembre, di ventotto ce n’è uno, tutti gli altri ne han trentuno – Thirty days has November, April, June, and September, only one has twenty-eight, all the rest have thirty one. Does it remind you of something?

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