The Spanish calendar: days, months, and seasons of the year. Where do their names come from?

Learn the origin of the Spanish calendar, including the names of the days, months, and seasons of the year, with iScribo.

What is time? From philosophy, the thinking around time lies in its nature: does time exist or not, and if it exists, can we really measure it?

Today, we will observe time from physics, where it is proposed that time is a magnitude with which the separation, simultaneity or duration of events is measured. This allows us to organise them in their simplest temporal form. That is, past, present, and future. Where events are in each of these sets depends on their relationship.

The best-known system of representing the passage of time is the calendar. The calendar model officially used in almost the entire world is the Gregorian calendar, named in honour of its promoter, Pope Gregory XIII.

The term calendar comes from the Latin calendarium, from calendae (calendas), a name that in ancient Rome was given to the first day of each month, corresponding to the phase of the new moon. Furthermore, the calendarium was the book where the loans that fell due on the calendas were recorded.

In different ancient peoples, the days were grouped into seven concerning the lunar phases. Rome continued with this organization, where each day was linked to a divinity: Luna (Moon), Marte (Mars), Mercurio (Mercury), Jupiter, and Venus. Sábado is a consecration to Saturn and domingo derives from dies dominicus (day of the Lord).

Months and seasons of the year

Initially, the lunar calendar consisted of ten months: Martius (marzo), in honour of Mars. Aprilis (abril), perhaps related to the Etruscan Apru and this to the Greek Aphrô of Aphrodite. Maius (mayo) is linked to Maia, a deity related to flowering. Iunius (Junio) in memory of the goddess Juno. Quintilis (quintile), Sextilis (September) derived from septem (seven), being the seventh month and following the same formula, it was continued with October, November, and December (octubre, noviembre and diciembre). In the 8th and 7th centuries, the months of Ianuarius (enero) and Februarius (febrero) were added in honour of Janus, God of the double face, symbol of the beginning and the end, and Februus to whom the purification rites were dedicated. In 153 BC, Ianuarius became the first month of the year. Quintilis was renamed Iulius (julio) in a clear allusion to Julius Caesar, while Sextilis was replaced by Augustus (agosto) in homage to Octavius Augustus.

The months were grouped into seasons, which since the Romans until now we divided into four: ver, aestas, autumnus and hiems (verano [current primavera], estío, otoño e invierno). Later, the voice prima vera (primera primavera) was incorporated, and the seasons became five: primavera, verano, estío, otoño e invierno. From the 17th century onwards, primavera – the time of the first flowering – displaced verano and merged with estío, definitively forming the four seasons that we know now.

So, we already know that, if time exists, the Spanish calendar tells us that today is spring and summer on one side of the world and autumn and winter on the other. Moreover, it is March [Marzo] (Martius) worldwide in honour of Mars.

Keep learning more curiosities about the Spanish language by visiting and reading the articles we publish weekly on the iScribo blog. And if you are looking to improve your Spanish writing, don’t hesitate to subscribe to our superb grammar checker.

4 replies on “The Spanish calendar: days, months, and seasons of the year. Where do their names come from?”

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