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You are at the section Calendar History

Definition of Days on the Calendars

Romulus Calendar, Republican Calendars, Julian Calendars through the Medieval Era

  1. Dates on the Calendar.
    1. During the era of the Roman and Julian calendars through the Middle Ages, the days of the month were not published in the counting-up fashion you see on the Gregorian calendars, that is, the days of the month were not seen as 1, 2, 3, 4, ... 28, 29, 30 and 31 depending on the length of the month.
    2. Rather, the months were divided into three parts, each with their own countdowns to 1, or Roman numeral I.
  2. Points and Countdowns on the Romulus and Republican Calendar Months
    1. Kalends Days: (I Kal)
      1. Day I was the first of the month
      2. Kalendae (or Calends) was on the first of every month.
      3. Day I was also the VII day before Nonaes on the months of Martius (March), Maius (May), Quintills (July) and October, but the V day before Nonaes on all other months.
    2. Countdown to the Nonaes Days:
      1. VI to II (2nd to 6th) counted down to Nonaes Day on the months of Martius (March), Maius (May), Quintills (July) and October.
      2. Days IV to II (2nd to 4th) counted down to Nonaes Day on all other months.
      3. "II Nonaes" was actually called "the day before Nonae" rather than the "2nd day before Nonae" since to the Romans, they referred to the same date. It was also called "pridie Nonaes". For illustrative purposes, you'll see II Nonaes to refer to all of the meanings.
    3. Nonaes Days:
      1. The Nones were on the 7th on the months of Martius (March), Maius (May), Quintills (July) and October.
      2. The other months including the intercalary class months (beteeen Feb and Mar, and Nov and Dec) had the Nones on the 5th.
      3. Day I was also the IX day before the Ides on all months.
    4. Countdown to the Ides Days:
      1. Nonaes Days were always positioned seven days (or eight for Romans counting inclusively) to Ides Days
      2. Days VIII to I, counted down to Ides Days.
      3. "II Ides" was actually called "the day before Ides" rather than the "2nd day before Ides" since to the Romans, they referred to the same date. It was also called "pridie Ides". For illustrative purposes, you'll see II Ides to refer to all of the meanings.
    5. Ides Days
      1. The Ides were on the 15th on the months of Martius (March), Maius (May), Quintills (July) and October.
      2. The other months including the intercalary class months (beteeen Feb and Mar, and Nov and Dec) had the Nones on the 13th.
    6. Countdown to the Kalends Days:
      1. Depending on the remaining length of the calendar, and again Romans counted down inclusively to one, just like what Casey Kasem did on his radio shows, the equlivalent day it begins is either the 16th (for the months of Martius (March), Maius (May), Quintills (July) and October), or the 14th for all the other months.
      2. For the original 31-day months of Martius (March), Maius (May), Quintills (July) and October (except during the years of 45 B.C. through 9 B.C.), the countdown began with the Roman number and day XVII Kal with the name of following month
      3. For all other months (including October from year 45 B.C. through 9 B.C. only), as well as all 31-day months except Martius (March), Maius (May), Quintills (July), the countdown began with any number depending on the remaining length of the calendar after the day of Ides (including towards the first of an intercalary month) with XIX (31), XVIII (30), XVII (29), XVI (28), XV (27), XII (24) or XI (23), followed by Kals and the name of the following month. The countdowns ended when you land at numeral I on the following month.
      4. "II Kal" was actually called "the day before Kal" rather than the "2nd day before Kal" since to the Romans, they referred to the same date. It was also called "pridie Kal". For illustrative purposes, you'll see either pridie Kal or II Kal to refer to all of the meanings.
  3. Adding Days to Months.
    1. When calendar lengths were reformed, extra days were added, not at the end of the month as you would expect, but rather, on the day after the Ides of the month.
    2. When some of the months were lengthed to 31 days, the original days of the Nones and Ides did not migrate two days later. They stayed in their original positions. For example, the months with the names of Sextilis, Ianuarius, September, November and December, although they were lengthend to 31 days, the days of the Nones and Ides never drifted. September and November were 31 days during the first decades of the Julian calendar, but later were reverted to 30 day months, and the Ides and Nones days stayed where they were during the entire way.
    3. When a day was added to a 28-day month, following the Ides on what would be the 13th in Gregorian calendars, day XVII Kal. [name of following month] was seen.
    4. When a day was added to a 29-day month, following the Ides on what would be the 13th in Gregorian calendars, day XVIII Kal. [name of following month] was seen.
    5. When a day was added to a 30-day month, following the Ides on what would be the 13th in Gregorian calendars, day XIX Kal. [name of following month] was seen. It does not change the dates of the Nones or Ides on any month.
    6. There are no known websites documenting months that were lengthened to 32 days. The days of the Nones or Ides would have never changed dates anyway.
  4. Subtracting Days from Months.
    1. When calendar lengths were reformed, extra days were dropped, not at the end of the month as you would expect, but rather, on the day after the Ides of the month.
    2. When some of the months were shortened from 31 days (as in October), the original days of the Nones and Ides did not migrate two days earlier. They stayed in their original positions, with the Nones and Ides still on the 7th and 15th for October, but on the 5th and 13th for all other months.
    3. When a day was subtracted from a 29-day month, following the Ides on what would be the 13th in Gregorian calendars, day XVII Kal. [name of following month] was no longer seen.
    4. When a day was subtracted from a 30-day month, following the Ides on what would be the 13th in Gregorian calendars, day XVIII Kal. [name of following month] was no longer seen.
    5. When a day was subtracted from a 31-day month other than October, following the Ides on what would be the 13th in Gregorian calendars, day XIX Kal. [name of following month] was no longer seen.
    6. When a day was subtracted from October (a 31-day month), following the Ides on what would be the 15th in Gregorian calendars, day VII Kal. [name of following month] was no longer seen from 45 B.C. to 9 B.C.; when October's length was restored to 31 days in 8 B.C., the day VII Kal. [name of following month] returned.
    7. on years when Februarius was shortened to 23 or 24 days, the countdown to the intercalaris month began with XI (for 23 day Februaries) or XII (for 24 day Februaries).
  5. Counting Down the Days Method
    1. The Romulus and Republican Calendars used the Kalends Days counting down method of counting down the days to the first of the following month. The first day of each of the months was always I Kal.
    2. The days of the month were in reverse. They counted down towards Nones, Ides, and Kals, the start of the next month
    3. The first day of the month was called I Kal, the last day of the previous month was named pridie Kal, the next to the last day of the previous month III Kal, and so on.
    4. The days from the day after I to the Nones counted down inclusively to I from either VI or IV depending on the original length of the Roman month, then counted down inclusively to I from VII in all months to the 13th or 15th in modern Julian month dating practices, the countdown to Kal I from whatever number to pridie Kal at the end of the month.
  6. The Romans counted down to the Nonaes, Ides and Kals using an inclusive method, that is, they did not count to zero when counting down, they started with a number, and when they counted down to one, they were there. For example:
    1. Ianuarius IV Kals (January 27) 4th day before Kalendae of Februarius
    2. Ianuarius III Kals (January 28) 3rd day before Kalendae of Februarius
    3. Ianuarius pridie Kals 29 (January 29) the day before Kalendae of Februarius (there is no 2nd day before)
    4. Februarius I Kal (February 1) the day of Kalendae of Februarius
  7. When using Kalends method without the Nones or Ides, also suffix it with the name of the following month except if it's the I day in which case it's the current month.
    1. on shortened months of February during the years when an intercalary month was used, 23-Kal or 24-Kal may have been used with the intercalary month using either 27-Kal or 28-Kal
    2. also note that when there was a calendar reform for 45 B.C., the intercalary months were replaced with intercalary days labeled bissextile, inserting after the VII day, effectively doubling the VI day and abbreviated as "bis. VI Kal. (following month)"
    3. The table below would look different for 45 B.C. and again in 8 B.C. with the 24-kal and 23-kal columns no longer needed
    4.       Day 31-Kal 30-Kal 29-Kal 28-Kal 27-Kal 24-Kal 23-Kal
            --- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
            31  II     -      -      -      -      -      -
            30  III    II     -      -      -      -      -
            29  IV     III    II     -      -      -      -
            28  V      IV     III    II     -      -      -
            27  VI     V      IV     III    II     -      -
            26  VII    VI     V      IV     III    -      -
            25  VIII   VII    VI     V      IV     -      -
            24  IX     VIII   VII    VI     V      II     -
            23  X      IX     VIII   VII    VI     III    II
            22  XI     X      IX     VIII   VII    IV     III
            21  XII    XI     X      IX     VIII   V      IV
            20  XIII   XII    XI     X      IX     VI     V
            19  XIV    XIII   XII    XI     X      VII    VI
            18  XV     XIV    XIII   XII    XI     VIII   VII
            17  XVI    XV     XIV    XIII   XII    IX     VIII
            16  XVII   XVI    XV     XIV    XIII   X      IX
            15  XVIII  XVII   XVI    XV     XIV    XI     X
            14  XIX    XVIII  XVII   XVI    XV     XII    XI
            13  XX     XIX    XVIII  XVII   XVI    XIII   XII
            12  XXI    XX     XIX    XVIII  XVII   XIV    XIII
            11  XXII   XXI    XX     XIX    XVIII  XV     XIV
            10  XXIII  XXII   XXI    XX     XIX    XVI    XV
             9  XXIV   XXIII  XXII   XXI    XX     XVII   XVI
             8  XXV    XXIV   XXIII  XXII   XXI    XVIII  XVII
             7  XXVI   XXV    XXIV   XXIII  XXII   XIX    XVIII
             6  XXVII  XXVI   XXV    XXIV   XXIII  XX     XIX
             5  XXVIII XXVII  XXVI   XXV    XXIV   XXI    XX
             4  XXIX   XXVIII XXVII  XXVI   XXV    XXII   XXI
             3  XXX    XXIX   XXVIII XXVII  XXVI   XXIII  XXII
             2  XXXI   XXX    XXIX   XXVIII XXVII  XIX    XXIII
             1  I      I      I      I      I      I      I
            
  8. When using Nones or Ides methods
  9.       Day 30/31-Kal                       23/24/28/29-Kal
          --- ---------                       ---------
          16  Kals varies (see chart above)   Kals varies (see chart above)
          15  Idus (current month)            Kals varies (see chart above)
              or I Idus (current month)
          14  pridie Idus (current month)     Kals varies (see chart above)
              or II Idus (current month)
          13  III Idus (current month)        Idus (current month)
                                              or I Idus (current month)
          12  IV Idus (current month)         pridie Idus (current month)
                                              or II Idus (current month)
          11  V Idus (current month)          III Idus (current month)
          10  VI Idus (current month)         IV Idus (current month)
           9  VII Idus (current month)        V Idus (current month)
           8  VIII Idus (current month)       VI Idus (current month)
           7  Nonae (current month)           VII Idus (current month)
              or I Nonae 
           6  pridie Nonae (current month)    VIII Idus (current month)
              or II Nonae
           5  III Nonae (current month)       Nonae (current month)
                                              or I Nonae
           4  IV Nonae (current month)        pridie Nonae (current month)  
                                              or II Nonae
           3  V Nonae (current month)         III Nonae (current month) 
           2  VI Nonae (current month)        IV Nonae (current month) 
           1  Kalandae (current month)        Kalandae (current month)
           *  pridie Kalendae (following month)
           * = last day of the previous month (day 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30 or 31)
          
  10. Sometimes two letter abbreviations for points and months are used:
    1. Id. = Idus = Ides
    2. Non. = Nonae = Nones
    3. Kal. = Kals = Kalendae
    4. Prid. = pridie
    5. Mart. = Martius
  11. Dates were written as a.d. NN, an abbreviation for ante diem, NN, meaning "on the Nth (Numerus) day before the named reference day (Nomen)". e.g., a.d. III Kal. Nov. = on the third day before the November Kalends = 30 October. The value two was not used to denote a day before the fixed point, because second was the same as pridie. Further examples of date equivalence are: a.d. IV Non. Jan. = 2 January; a.d. VI Non. Mai. = 2 May; a.d. VIII Id. Apr. = 6 April; a.d. VIII Id. Oct. = 8 October; a.d. XVII Kal. Nov. = 16 October.
  12. Division of Months
    1. In long months (31 days - March, May, July (Quintilis), and October), the days were divided into:
      1. 1st day of the month: 1 day for the Kalends of the month
      2. 2nd to 6th days of the month: 5 days before the Nones
      3. 7th day of the month: 1 day for the Nones
      4. 8th to 14th days of the month: 7 days before the Ides
      5. 15th day of the month: 1 day for the Ides
      6. 16th to 31st days of the month: 16 days before the Kalends of the next month
    2. In short months (29 days - January, April, June, August (Sextilis), September, November and December), the days were divided into:
      1. 1st day of the month: 1 day for the Kalends of the month
      2. 2nd to 4th days of the month: 3 days before the Nones
      3. 5th day of the month: 1 day for the Nones
      4. 6th to 12th days of the month: 7 days before the Ides
      5. 13th day of the month: 1 day for the Ides
      6. 14th to 29th days of the month: 16 days before the Kalends of the next month
    3. In ordinary years, the days in February (28 days) were divided into:
      1. 1st day of the month: 1 day for the Kalends of February
      2. 2nd to 4th days of the month: 3 days before the Nones
      3. 5th day of the month: 1 day for the Nones
      4. 6th to 12th days of the month: 7 days before the Ides
      5. 13th day of the month: 1 day for the Ides
      6. 14th to 28th days of the month: 15 days before the Kalends of March
    4. In intercalary years, the days in February (23 days) (some sources say 24 but unlikely) were divided into:
      1. 1st day of the month: 1 day for the Kalends of February
      2. 2nd to 4th days of the month: 3 days before the Nones
      3. 5th day of the month: 1 day for the Nones
      4. 6th to 12th days of the month: 7 days before the Ides
      5. 13th day of the month: 1 day for the Ides
      6. 14th day onwards: counting down to a festival (see below) or to the Kalends of the intercalary month
    5. The days of the intercalary month inserted in intercalary years (27 days if 377 days, sometimes 28 if 378 days) were divided into:
      1. 1st day of the intercalary month: 1 day for the Kalends of the intercalary month
      2. 2nd to 4th days of the intercalary month: 3 days before the Nones
      3. 5th day of the intercalary month: 1 day for the Nones
      4. 6th to 12th days of the intercalary month: 7 days before the Ides
      5. 13th day of the intercalary month: 1 day for the Ides
      6. 14th day onwards: counting down to the Kalends of March

Limitations of the Alphabet during this era through the 17th century.

  1. The letter "J" was not invented until about 1611 (according to the year the 1611 Bible was published), which is why Julius was spelled Ivlivs.
  2. There was no letter "U" in their alphabet until 1629.
  3. The original spellings of the months were: Ianvarivs, Febrvarivs, Martivs, Aprilis, Maivs, Ivnivs, Ivlivs, Avgvstvs, September, October, November, December.

Julian Calendars from the 15th Century Forward, Gregorian Calendars

  1. Dates on the Calendar.
    1. Sometime during the Medieval Era, the way the Romans numbered the months were replaced with the method of simply giving each day a number, counting up from the first day of the month, which is a "1", and counting up until the end of the month is reached.
    2. The Day Numbering scheme changed from the Kalends method (counting down inclusively to the first of the following month), to the Counting Up method (days since the last day of the previous month) sometime during the Medieval Era.
    3. There were no more divisions of months (Kalends, Nonaes, Ides); instead, the months were treated as a whole.
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