Ancient Roman calendars went through a number of improvements which eventually led to our modern Calendar. The earlier versions of Roman calendar were based on the lunar cycle and contained ten months. The later calendar was based on the solar cycle. It was reformed under Julius Caesar, hence its name “Julian Calendar”. It was extremely similar to our own and required only a “small“ degree of readjustment during the renaissance under orders of Pope Gregory to take account of leap years and to realign spring with Christian Easter.
The modern calendar is therefore known as the Gregorian calendar but as may be seen in this collection of monthly calendar images it differs little from the ancient roman calendar. As a final anecdote: it took anglo-saxon countries a few hundred years to accept the Gregorian modification, quite likely due to the Protestant antipathy for Papism and Catholicism.
The image is taken from an 18th century collection of historical dates, numbers, inscriptions and astronomical events. Printed in Paris, France in 1763: “Tablettes Chronologiques de l’Histoire Universelle, Sacree et Prophane, Ecclesiastique et Civile, Depuis la Creation du Monde justqu’a l’an 1762.” by Abbot Lenglet Dufresnoy. Book 1 – Ancient History.
The name of each day of the month is written next to the day’s number. The first was called “Calendis”. Note how on the 6th of the month it actually starts counting backwards towards the ides of the month (the ides of January were on the 13th). After that it is essentially a countdown towards the Calends of the following month; hence the 14th of Januarius (January, month of the god Janus) was known as “the ninenteenth day before the Calends of Februarius”.
The name Februarius came from the word meaning “to purify” – Februa – due to purifying whips/festivities (the Lupercalia) in the name of the god Pan. It is believed that Februus was originally an Etruscan divinity, possibly associated with Pluto.
| January and February | March and April | May and June | July and August | September and October | November and December |