March was the first month of the year

By Herbert Vego


EXACTLY one week from now, we will be transitioning from the month of February to the month of March, which used to be the first month of the year.  True or false?

Like me, you must have wondered: Why do the months of September and October occupy the 9th and 10th positions in the calendar when their Latin word roots – septem  and octo – mean 7th and 8th, respectively? And so, I did research on the evolution of what is now the international calendar.

One of the first scientific calendars was the Egyptian calendar comprising of 12 months, and each month had exactly 30 days. The months were further divided into three weeks, with each week lasting 10 days.

Then is the Babylonian calendar with 12 lunar months, each beginning with the appearance of a new crescent moon.

The first Roman calendar – conceptualized by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the eighth century B.C. – had 10 months in a year, with each month lasting for 30 or 31 days. In that calendar, March represented the first month of the year.

March (Martius in Latin) was named after Mars, the Roman god of war. It was the beginning of the season for “marching to war”.

In 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar, after consulting with astronomers and mathematicians of his time, introduced the 12-month Julian calendar, which closely resembles the modern Gregorian calendar that the world uses today. Thus, the original seventh and eighth months slid to ninth and tenth.

Caesar named the first month January in honor of Janus, the Roman god with two faces that enabled him to look back into the past and forward into the future; February after the Latin word februa, which was the spring festival of washing and purification.

The Romans celebrated the new beginning of the year by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches and holding noisy parties.

In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily experimented with other dates to begin the year with. During the Middle Ages, European countries replaced them with dates that carried greater significance, such as December 25 (the traditional anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation).

Pope Gregory XIII reestablished Jan. 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582. By then, the Julian calendar implemented by Julius Caesar had fallen out of sync with the seasons. This concerned Gregory because it meant that Easter, traditionally observed within March, fell further away from the spring equinox – that day in March when the day and the night are of equal length across the celestial equator.

Some European countries did not immediately adopt the Gregorian calendar because of the anti-Pope Protestant Reformation that was taking place at that time.  Today, it is the calendar of the world.

Even China officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1911. The Chinese around the world, however, never celebrate New Year on Jan. 1. The first day of the Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20.  But its origin has been obscured by the length of time.

Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.  The present year is the year of the Ox, which is said to bring stability and calmness.

Now that you know, let us…


“Bisekleta Ko, Ka-Date Ko” is a cycling event meant to celebrate two February anniversaries being celebrated by MORE Electric and Power Corp. – February 14, the second anniversary of the law RA 11212 granting it the new 25-year franchise as power-distribution utility in Iloilo City; and the first anniversary of the date (Feb. 28, 2020) when it replaced the previous franchisee, Panay Electric Co. (PECO).

Any bicycle rider may join this charity fundraiser on Sunday, February 28, and in so doing make a difference in supporting a great cause.

Proceeds from this cycling event will go to Mayor Jerry P. Treñas’ ongoing beautification project at the bike lanes.

Each biking participant is therefore also a “facelifter” of the metro’s bike lanes. What’s more, he gets a chance to win a brand-new bike.

For pre-registration, please check the online link

Successful pre-registrants may directly proceed to the registration area on site, sign, pay the P100 registration fee, and claim your freebies.

Katodo Jonathan Cabrera, if you are joining, isama mo ako.