Ho Ho Ho – it’s Solstice Pagan festival time. As usual, we are doing a special end of year episode to round off another trip around the sun.
This time, we thought we would look back at the year, month by month, and try to work out how our year came to be, and the religious or mythological reasons behind our calendar. Hopefully, we can also find out why, during each said month, Emma totally loses her shit and becomes a psychotic, bawling mess of physical and emotional pain. Wish us luck with that one.
We’re going to be focussing on the Gregorian/Western Calendar, but will mention some other vastly inferior calendars if they offer us amusing tid bits of trivia that we can look down upon.
So, let’s start at the very beginning: January. The month of Joe’s birth.
January is named after the ancient Roman God Janus (pronounced /janʊs/).
He is the God of knitting (lol).
Srsly, he is the god of beginnings and transitions, and therefore of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings.
Passages and endings – lol
It is said that he did indeed preside over all kinds of transitions – real, abstract, divine and profane. Because of his relationship to transitions, Janus was worshipped at the beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as at marriages and deaths. He also represented the middle ground between many concepts such as barbarism and civilization, and youth and adulthood.
Janus is usually depicted as having two faces (two faced bitch), because he looks to both the past and the future. Thus, he has a dual nature.
Because of his relation to transitions, he is also associated with war and peace, birth, journeys, exchange and trading. Janus can either be considered in relation to these specific functions (e.g. a god related to bridges or gateways), or just as a general celestial god representing the cosmological principles of change, movement and time.
Janus is at the origin of time as the guardian of the gates of Heaven. He presides over the concepts and events related to the beginning of the world, such as religion, initiation of human life, and the gods themselves. He holds access to Heaven and its gods, so he must be invoked first before praying to other gods. Indeed, he is thought to be the most important God in the ancient Roman pantheon.
As we all know, February is the second month of our year, and the only month with less than 30 days. #inferioritycomplex #notlongenough
The origins of February are somewhat different to those of January.
The month of February (the Roman month of Febrarius) is named after a pagan ritual of purification (a "spring cleaning" of the soul, if you will), associated with the thawing of winter snows. This ritual was known as "Februa", and was held on the 15th Feb (full moon) in the lunar Roman calendar.
Februa, was later subsumed by Lupercalia. The prefix "Luper" refers to "wolf" (as soon as I saw that prefix I howled with joy, just a little). How awesome is this?
Lupercalia was a possibly pre-Roman festival, that was observed to avert evil spirits and purify the city.
The Lupercalia festival was partly in honor of "Lupa", the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. In Roman mythology, Lupercus was the god of shepherds, and sometimes identified with the Greek god Pan. During his or her festival, priests
wore goatskins. In fact, one historian mentions an image of "the Lycaean god, whom the Greeks call Pan and the Romans Lupercus, nude save for the girdle of goatskin, which stood in the cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. There, on the Ides of February (in February the ides is the 13th), a goat and a dog were sacrificed, and salt mealcakes prepared by the Vestal Virgins were burnt."
The festival began with the sacrifice by the Luperci (or the high priests of Jupiter) of two male goats and a dog. Quoth Wikipedia: "Next, two young Luperci were led to the altar, to be anointed on their foreheads with the sacrificial blood, which was wiped off the bloody knife with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and laugh."
The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs (that would be whips, not G-strings) from the skins of the animals, dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificed goats. They ran round the walls of the city, striking people who gathered to watch. Girls and young women would line up to receive lashes from these whips. This was supposed to ensure fertility and ease the pains of childbirth.
I guess that's as good an excuse as any.
I think February is now my favourite month.
It's interesting to note that January and February were the last two months added to the Roman calendar (around 700 BC), because the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period (as opposed to a periodless month, which would cause many a woman to cry for one reason or another). February was actually the final month of the calendar year until around 450 BC, when it was changed to the 2nd month to help align the calendar with the seasons.
The length and position of February in the calendar has been dicked around with quite a bit throughout history in order to try to align nature's seasons with man's months. At one stage, a shorter month was added after February in an attempt to get everything in order. But the Julian calendar, did away with such shenanigans. From then on, leap years occurred every fourth year to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that everything was hunky dory. After this, February always remained the second month of the calendar year. This was even the case during the Middle Ages, when the numbered Anno Domini (i.e. after Jeebus) year began on March 25 or December 25. The second month was always February whenever all twelve months were displayed in order.
Many cultures and religions still celebrate the beginning of the New Year in March, I guess because of the vernal (or Spring) equinox that happens in the Northern Hemisphere around the 19th-21st of March.
Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere we are dreading what is to come. Well I am, anyway......
In March, we return to a month named after a Roman God (again). March is named after Mars, the Roman god of war who was also seen as a guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare.
Ems: I guess maybe there was more warfare at that time because you could raid crops?
The month of March has various names in different cultures. Most of them refer to the snow going away and the earth becoming arable (e.g. In Slovene, the traditional name is sušec, meaning the month when the earth becomes dry enough so that it is possible to
Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares (the Greek God of War), whose myths were "reinterpreted" in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars (aside: the zodiac sign of Aries begins on March 21st).
Not sure how that worked... I guess they were both Gods of war so same same.......but anyway.....
Apparently the Greeks thought Ares was a testosterone fuelled violent arsehole douchebag.
His sons Fear (Phobos) and Terror (Deimos) and his lover, or sister (Eben style), Discord (Enyo)
accompanied him on his war chariot.
That is so cool. Now I know why the two moons of Mars are called Phobos and Deimos.
As for Enyo, well.......she has a very successful environmentally friendly household pyramid selling cleaning system named after her. Yay.
Daughter: CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN BENCH WITHOUT POTENTIALLY HARMING BABY DOLPHINS.......SIGN UP AND YOU'LL GET A FREE SCOURER!
The Romans gave this month the Latin name Aprilis but no one is really sure of the origin of this name. The traditional etymology is from the verb aperire, "to open", referring to trees and flowers beginning to "open" during Spring. April was
sacred to the goddess Venus, and it has been suggested that Aprilis was originally called Aphrilis, from her equivalent Greek goddess name Aphrodite, or from the Etruscan name Apru.
April was the second month of the earliest Roman calendar, before January and February were added by King Numa Pompilius in about 700 BC. It became the fourth month of the calendar
year around 450 BC.
The Anglo-Saxons called April Oster-monath or Eostur-monath. The Venerable Bede says in The Reckoning of Time that this month Eostur is the root of the word Easter. He further states that the month was named after a goddess Eostre whose feast was
in that month.
St Mark's Eve falls on the twenty-fourth of April. This was a kick-arse night during which the custom in the villages of England, from the 17th century to the late 19th century, was to sit in the church porch. During this time, you had to keep silent between the bell tolling at 11.00 p.m. until the bell struck 1.00 a.m. In Yorkshire you needed to do this for three successive nights. On the third night, it was said that the ghosts of those that were going to die during the year would be seen
entering the church. This practice took place throughout England, but was most prevalent in northern and western counties. Other variations of the superstition say that headless or rotting corpses, or coffins would be seen.
April is also known for “April Fool’s Day”, whose origins are also unclear. Some think the tradition of playing pranks on others on this day originated in The Cantebury Tales, others think it is related to some other events such as he anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. There is also a theory that in the Middle Ages, New Year's Day was celebrated on March 25 in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year's was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. Some suggest that April Fools originated because those who celebrated on the January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates.
No other month begins or ends on the same day of the week as May in any year. May is also Zombie awareness month. The equivalent Southern Hemisphere month is November.
May was named after the Greek goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman era goddess of fertility and chastity (wtf?), Bona Dea, whose festival was held in May.
The Roman poet Ovid provides a second etymology, in which he says that the month of May is named for the maiores, Latin for "elders".
Maia is the eldest of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes. She is also the daughter of Atlas. Maia embodied the concept of growth, as her name was thought to be related to the adjective maius, maior, "larger, greater." '
The Latin name for June is Junius.
There are multiple possible etymologies for the name. June may be named after the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of Jupiter; the second is that the name comes from the Latin word iuniores, meaning
"younger ones", as opposed to maiores ("elders") for which the preceding month May may be named.
Juno was Queen of The Gods, and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Her name is linked to her husby Jupiter. She is said to represent the spirit of youthfulness, liveliness and strength, so she is connected to a wide range of people including fertile women and soldiers.
Juno is associated with peacocks, because of this story. Juno’s husby Jupiter was a player and had many affairs, including one with Io. Juno was extremely jealous of Io, who was one of her priestesses, and basically went nuts. Jupiter transformed Io into a white cow, in order to defeat the jealous intrigues of Juno. Juno placed Io (now a white cow) under the watchful care of a man called Argus Panoptes, who fastened her to an olive-tree in the grove of Hera. Argus Panoptes had a hundred eyes, of which, when asleep, he never closed more than two at a time so kept continuous guard of Io. Mercury, however, by the command of Jupiter, succeeded in putting all his eyes to sleep with the sound of his magic lyre and killed him. In commemoration of the services which Argus had rendered her, Juno placed his eyes on the tail of a peacock, as a lasting memorial of her gratitude.
In ancient Rome, mid-May to mid-June was considered unfavourable for marriage. However, nowdays it seems it is considered lucky to wed in June.
In Iceland, folklore says that if you bathe naked in the morning dew on the morning of June 24, you are supposed to keep aging at bay for longer.
June is “End Boss Month”, in which gamers make their blog/Reddit avatars their favourite final boss, and spend time discussing the characteristics of their most loved and hated final game bosses.
My least favourite month.
July is named after Julius Caesar, but was originally called Qintilis. Qintilis was the 5th month of the year when the year had 10 months in the ancient Roman calendar. In 45 BC,
Julius Caesar instituted the Julian calendar that corrected astronomical discrepancies in the old calendar (Jan and Feb were added). After his death in 44 BC, the month of Quintilis, the month of his birth, was renamed Julius in his honor.
Apollo was honoured in July through sacrifices and games.
August was originally named Sextilis in Latin, because it was the sixth month in the original ten-month Roman calendar. In 8 BC it was renamed in honor of Augustus, because it was during that month that the most fortunate events of his life had happened. In that month he had first become consul, the most important man in Rome; he had three times entered the city in triumph after his great victories; he had conquered Egypt and had ended the civil wars.
Some people say that days were taken from February and added onto August to make it 31 days, but this is not true.
The Old-English name for August was Hlaf-maesse, that is, Loaf Mass, or Loaf Feast, because a feast of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the corn was held during August - the time when harvesting begins. The first day is sometimes called Lammas Day, lammas being a slightly altered form of the word hlaf-maesse.
August is also national panini month.
Naming months after emperors was part of the Romans worshipping their emperors as divinely sanctioned authorities of the Roman State. This was known as the Imperial cult of Ancient Rome. A deceased emperor could be voted a state divinity by the Senate. As far as we know, in the period from 14 C.E. until 337 C.E., of the 60 emperors, 36 were deified, together with 27 members of their families.
On his death, Julius Caesar was officially recognised as a god, the Divine ('Divus') Julius, by the Roman state. And in 29 BC Caesar's adopted son, the first Roman emperor Augustus, allowed the culturally Greek cities of Asia Minor to set up temples to him. This was really the first manifestation of Roman emperor-worship.
While worship of a living emperor was culturally acceptable in some parts of the empire, in Rome itself and in Italy it was not. There an emperor was usually declared a 'divus' only on his death, and was subsequently worshipped (especially on anniversaries) with sacrifice like any other gods.
September (from Latin septem, "seven") was originally the seventh of ten months on the Roman calendar.
September marks the beginning of the ecclesiastical year in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The equinox named the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere and the vernal or spring equinox in the southern hemisphere occurs on dates varying from 21 to 24 September. In the pagan wheel of the year the spring equinox is the time of Ostara and is celebrated on the first Sunday of September. Ostara inaugurates the new year on the Zodiacal calendar. From this point on, days are longer than the nights. This is regarded as a time of rebirth and great fertility.
The fertility goddess Ostara (the eastern star) is notably associated with the fecund symbols of the hare and egg.
Her name may be etymological ancestor of the words east and Easter.
Guess what? October was the 8th month in the Roman Calendar. Not much else to say about it, except for Halloween, and the fact that it is Italian American Heritage Month.
Halloween starts the three day festival of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful
dead. The traditional focus of All Hallows' Eve is using "humor and ridicule to confront the power of death."
Yep – 9th month in the Roman calendar. The 9th month of the Islamic calendar is Ramadan (I
never knew this was a month).
The word Ramadan comes from an Arabic root meaning scorching heat or dryness. Fasting is compulsory for adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, travelling, pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic or having their period. While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims don’t consume food, drink, smoke, or do sexy
naughty things; in some interpretations, Muslims also refrain from other behaviour that could be perceived as sinful, such as swearing, arguing, speaking ill of others, and procrastination.
I’m not even going to say it.