December 31 – Calendar

Is it the end, or is it the beginning? New Year’s Eve is such a perfect day! I hope you are counting your blessings and preparing for another year of goodness in your classrooms, homeschools and family life.

Calendars hanging on the wall may not be as popular as they once were now that we have electronic calendars. I have more than 10 different Google calendars to keep track of things!

When did we begin to use calendars? I’d say since the beginning of time! A calendar is simply a way of timekeeping, of keeping track of days. Days are the space between sunrise and sunset.

Archaeologists have discovered things they “think” are ancient calendars such as the holes in Warren Field in Scotland or Stonehenge. But since we can’t ask the ancient peoples who created these, we are guessing. It’s cool to think about!

Watching the stars, and the behavior of the moon has also acted as a natural calendar for centuries. Eventually as technology got better and better it was discovered the length of a year is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be precise. This causes some crazy things to happen over time. Hello Leap Year!

I bet you knew that January 1 wasn’t always the “First Day” of the new year. Ancient Romans began their year in what we call March. The Romans also gave us the names for some of the months of the year. (The Romans took their calendar from the Greeks and the Greeks based their calendar on ….we can go back to prehistoric times, so for the purpose of this blog post I chose to begin with the Roman calendar, progress to the Julian Calendar and end with the current, Gregorian calendar.)

The Roman year began in March – possibly because of the vernal equinox.

March is named for MARS, the Roman god of war

There is no clear answer regarding the origin of Aprils’ name, only several theories. It could come from the latin word for second, because at the time April was the second month of the year. Perhaps April got its name from the goddess Aphrodite. Still a third theory proposes the name came from yet another latin word: “aperire” . This word means open. April is a spring month in which many flowers and plants are “opening”. What do you think is the reason April was named? You can leave your answer in the comments or you can email me using the CONTACT ME form.

May is said to be named after the goddess of growing plants: Maia

The Roman god and patroness of marriage and weddings is named Juno. That’s how June got its name. Do you know anyone who has an anniversary or is planning to get married in June? You can leave your answer in the comments or you can email me using the CONTACT ME form.

The Romans called the 5th month Quintilis, that’s latin for 5th. It was later renamed July in 44B.C. after Julius Caesar.

Another Caesar,this time Augustus Caesar, is responsible for the name August. Previously, the Romans called it Sextillia, which is Latin for 6th.

Now we enter the “ber” months. September is derived from septem, Latin for Seven. October is from octo, latin for eight. November, takes it name from novem which is latin for Nine. Finally we have December which is named from the Larin word for ten, decem. (This is leading me to lean toward a particular theory for April, how about you?)

The Roman Calendar ended after 10 months initially. February and January were added about 700 BCE (Before Common Era)

February was named after the festival Februa. And January was named after Janus the god of beginnings and endings.

The Romans simply ignored 61 days in the winter. Imagine that. This went on for quite some time. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar proposed a reform of the Roman calendar. This reform was designed with the help of some pretty skilled Greek astronomers of the time. It took effect on January 1, 45 BC (remember when we calculate BC years we are counting down to 0 which is said to be the year Jesus was born, so 45 BC is indeed AFTER 46 BC when the calendar was proposed.)

The Julian calendar introduced Leap Years, however they were calculated incorrectly and eventually things were out of whack. Important religious holidays we not in line with equinoxes and solstices.

In 1582 Pope Gregory created what we now know as the “Gregorian calendar” in which most (but not all) western nations began celebrating the start of the year on the 1st of January. It recalculates the year accurately, including leap years, and our 7 day week.

When the calendar was first introduced, not all countries adopted it, It was not until 1752 that the British and their colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar for use. When they converted they had to drop 11 days from September to make it work! In September 1752, September 2, 1752 was followed by September 14, 1752. How Crazy is that??? I wonder when they celebrated their birthdays that year…

Here is a FREE PRINTABLE for you to help you remember how many days are in each month. It also has a page you can trace the poem to help it “stick”.

I also have a GREAT Calendar resource for you called THE PASSAGE OF TIME!

Check out my TeachersPayTeachers store for the Complete notebook!

This Calendar notebook is a fantastic resource for your learners to record memories of the day, look at the months of the year, see how their writing develops over time and more. This is a GREAT item to put in a TIME CAPSULE.

Here is your free sample:

I hope to see you next time for another fun Homeschool Holiday to explore- because there is always something to learn!

With Love,

“Mrs. Crabtree”

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A few books you may find inspirational relating to this topic:


The History of the Calendar

13 Months in Malesso: 13 Months in Malesso’ captures a distinctly CHamoru sense of time and place, and beautifully illustrates the many ways in which the island of Guam nourishes and sustains its people.

The Romans and their many Gods:

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