The words “September, October, November, and December” contain the latin roots for the numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10. So why do those months hold different positions in the calendar?

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The words “September, October, November, and December” contain the latin roots for the numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10. So why do those months hold different positions in the calendar?

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Because they originaly were 7th, 8th and so on month. Roman calendar had only 10 monts, before January and February were added. That shifted the order of the months by two but the names stick. Thats why September is 9th and not 7th now.

Originally, there were only 10 months in the year. Over time, this caused calendar drift, and so they had to add two more months at the beginning of the year.

It’s a common misconception that two months were added to a ten-month Roman calendar. The Roman calendar actually always had twelve months, but the year started in March, making September the seventh month, etc. The names became misaligned when most European countries moved the start of the year to January 1 in the Renaissance.

The confusion comes from people being taught that July and August were added to the Roman calendar to honor Julius Caesar and Augustus. In fact, they just renamed the months Quintilis and Sextilis (fifth and sixth).

EDIT: I was a little off. The earlier responder was right that January and February were added very early in Roman history and New Year’s Day moved to January 1. It’s true that March was the beginning of the year in medieval Europe but not for the Romans. It seems I was the one getting my calendar changes conflated.

The Romans had a ten month calendar but then they added July and August (named after Julius and Augustus). That’s the Julian calendar that stuck around in the former Roman empire, until Pope Gregory ordered it to be changed for the Gregorian calendar (which added some new rules for leap years to keep everything in sync) that we still use today.

Romulus’ original Roman calendar^[1] had 10 months, 4 with 31 days, for a 304 day calendar.

Numa Pompilius added the months of January at the beginning and February at the end.

The calendar had complex legal effects and so it was frequently modified slightly for political maneuvering.

It wasn’t until about 50 BCE Julius Caesar had enough of the bullshit and instituted solid reforms, fixing things into the well-known Julian Calendar.

[Roman Calendar on Wikipedia ](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_calendar) isn’t my source and I haven’t even bothered to read the article but it’ll probably confirm and have sources.

^[1] there is some debate if this calendar was ever a real thing. Most scholars agree that the 10 month calendar likely existed, but that the ancient Roman records on the details of it are very likely ret-conned to make later Roman’s look better.