We’re now well into the seventh month of the year, so it’s high time we examined the history of the name July. The Roman Senate named the month in 44 B.C.E. to honor the assassinated Roman general and dictator Julius Caesar, who was born in July.
Well, to be precise, Julius Caesar was born in Quintilis, at one time the fifth month of the ancient calendar, which began in March. If March is the first month of the year, then Quintilis/July is indeed the fifth month. (Think quintet and quintuplet.) The year proceeded through ten months, ending with December, in which you can see words related to ten, such as decade and decimal.
Weirdly, between December and March passed sixty or so unnamed days. I always imagine the Romans hunkered down in their villas and insulae (apartments), tapping their fingers, huddling by the fire, waiting for the winter days to pass until they could once again reach an actual month (Yay! It’s March!).
According to legend, King Numa, who ruled from 715–672 BCE, gave those orphaned days their names, January and February, but originally, they remained at the end of the year, after December. In about 450 BCE (opinions differ) January was promoted to the first month of the year.
Which moved July down to number seven. It’s the quintessential summer month, usually the warmest month of the year, though it’s the coldest in the Southern hemisphere. I imagine the children’s writer Roald Dahl was thinking of the Northern hemisphere when he wrote, “”If I had my way, I’d remove January from the calendar altogether and have an extra July instead.”
How about it? Would you want an extra July?