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The Roman Calendar

Introduction to the Roman calendar

Roman calendarThe calendar used by the Romans went through many changes before the final Julian calendar was established by Julius Caesar in 46BC. But even his version of the calendar was copied from one that had been developed in 279BC. Despite so much upheaval, with subsequent emperors altering the calendar for their own ends, much of our calendar information, the names of the days, the number of days in a month, the months in a year,all emanate from Roman times.

The format may be familiar to the one we use today, with 365 days and 12 months to a year with an extra day every four years. But the way in which the Romans read their calendar, and how they counted days of the month, are vastly different to the current method.

As can be imagined, the Romans did not have 'hang on the wall' calendars. Their's were carved from marble or stone, or painted directly onto a wall. As the calendar would only be chaged once a year, wall painted calendars were a practical idea.

Layout of the Roman calendar

Roman calendar
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How to read the calendar

Calendar text

Despite the similarity between the modern calendar and the Roman calendar, the latter is harder to understand due to the manner in which the days are designated.

Whereas we number our months from from 1 to 28, 29 30 or 31, the Romans gave days letters and counted the days in an upward fashion to the middle of the month, then down towards the end.

Calendar detailThe days of each month were identified by certain letters and names that designated the purpose of the day, or it's position in the month.

Kalend Kalends The first day fo the month
A Nundinae Counters of days of the week. 'A' meant that was a market day.
Nones Nones Usually the 5th - 7th.
Ides Ides The middle of the month, Usually the 13th - 15th day.
F Dies fasti Any legal procedings or voting took place on this day.
N Dies nefasti No legal proceedings or voting allowed on these days.
FERA Feriae Designating a festival day.
EN - Endotercisus - also Intercisus Days when the mornings aan afterniins had different designations.

FP & NP - Designated religious festivals of which no record survives

The remaing letters signify holidays or events schedlued

*Note: For more info on the Roman calendar, visit this page our friends at Romae Vitam's page: Ancient Roman Calendar

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