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Se­m­ana and Sep­tem­ber

Se­m­ana (Span­ish for “week”) comes from the Latin sep­ti­mana for the same. Sep­ti­mana it­self comes from the Latin root septem mean­ing… sev­en. There are, af­ter all, sev­en days in the week–by de­f­i­n­i­tion!

From the same root, we get the Eng­lish Sep­tem­ber. But some­thing is­n’t right. Is­n’t Sep­tem­ber the ninth month, not the sev­enth month? Huh?

The fas­ci­nat­ing ex­pla­na­tion is that the an­cient cal­en­dar had ten months, the first of which is… March. So, the num­ber­ing is all two be­hind. This ex­plains not on­ly why Sep­tem­ber is two off, but so is Oc­to­ber (from the root oct- mean­ing “eight”, not “ten”) as well as No­vem­ber (nov- for “nine”, not “eleven”) and De­cem­ber (dec- for “ten”, not “twelve.”)

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