What Were the Names of the Months in Ancient Greece?

What Were the Names of the Months in Ancient Greece?

The ancient Greeks had a unique way of naming their months. Unlike our modern calendar system, which is based on the Roman calendar, the ancient Greeks used lunar months to keep track of time.

Each month was associated with a specific deity or event and held significant cultural and religious importance. Let’s dive into the names of the months in ancient Greece and explore their meanings.

1. Hekatombaion

The first month of the ancient Greek calendar was called Hekatombaion. It derived its name from “hekaton,” meaning one hundred, and “bous,” meaning cow.

This month got its name because it was believed that one hundred cows were sacrificed to Zeus during this time.

2. Metageitnion

Metageitnion was the second month of the ancient Greek calendar. The name “Metageitnion” translates to “the month when people move” in English.

It signified a period when people would relocate or transfer their residences.

3. Boedromion

Boedromion was the third month in the ancient Greek calendar and derived its name from “boedromios,” meaning helper or savior. This month was associated with Apollo, who was considered a helper or savior during times of war.

4. Pyanepsion

Pyanepsion, meaning “bean-harvesting month,” marked the fourth month in ancient Greece. It got its name from pyanos, which means bean, as it was believed that beans were harvested during this time.

5. Maimakterion

The fifth month in the ancient Greek calendar was known as Maimakterion. This name has an interesting origin, as it comes from the word “maima,” meaning “madness.”

It was believed that during this month, people were more prone to madness and irrational behavior.

6. Poseideon

Poseideon was the sixth month of the ancient Greek calendar and took its name from Poseidon, the god of the sea. This month was associated with maritime activities and marked an important time for sailors and fishermen.

7. Gamelion

Gamelion, meaning “marriage month,” was the seventh month in ancient Greece. It was considered an auspicious time for marriages and other sacred unions, hence the name.

8. Anthesterion

Anthesterion marked the eighth month in the ancient Greek calendar. The name comes from “anthest─ôrion,” which means “flowering” or “blossoming.”

It symbolized a time when flowers would bloom and nature would come alive.

9. Elaphebolion

Elaphebolion, derived from “elaphos” meaning deer or stag, was the ninth month in ancient Greece. This name reflected the hunting season when deer were abundant.

10. Munychion

Munychion was the tenth month of the ancient Greek calendar and got its name from “mounykhios,” meaning rainy or cloudy weather. This month typically experienced heavy rainfall.

11. Thargelion

Thargelion marked the eleventh month in ancient Greece and was associated with the festival of Thargelia. This festival celebrated the birth of Apollo and Artemis and included purification rituals and offerings to the gods.

12. Skirophorion

The twelfth and final month of the ancient Greek calendar was Skirophorion. It derived its name from “skiron,” meaning dried figs, as this fruit was harvested during this time.

In conclusion, the ancient Greeks had a unique way of naming their months, each with its own significance and cultural context. From Hekatombaion to Skirophorion, these names provide us with a glimpse into the rich mythology and traditions of ancient Greece.