Old English Name

 Suggested Meaning of Old English Name

Modern Equivalent

[Æftera]-Geol-monaþ  ‘After-Yule-month’ (second passing / changing month) January
Sol-monaþ  ‘[Returning] Sun-month’; also called ‘ Flat Cakes’ Month’ February
Hreð-monaþ  ‘month of Hreða’ (‘glory-goddess’) March
Eostur-monaþ  ‘month of the Eostre [Easter]’ (goddess of  ‘the radiant dawn’) April
Ðrimilce-monaþ  ‘month of Three milkings’ (cows milked three times a day) May
[Ærra]-Liða-monaþ  ‘First Travelling month’ (‘líðian’, to travel, sail, glide) June
[Æftera]-Liða-monaþ  ‘Second Travelling month’ (some years had three) July
Weod-monaþ  ‘Weed-month’ (still a problem) August
Halig-monaþ  ‘Holy month’ (Harvest Month) September
Winter-fylleð  ‘Winter full moon month’ (hunters’ moon: first full moon of Autumn) October
Blot-monaþ  ‘Blood (sacrifice) month’ (surplus livestock killed off before winter) November
[Ærra]-Geol-monaþ  ‘Before-Yule-month’ (first passing / changing / month)  December
Modra-niht  ‘Mothers’ Night’ (longest night: birth of the new solar year) Christmas

This calendar is largely based on information supplied yet again by dear old Bede.  In his scientific treatise On Chronology, written in the early eighth century, he provides us with the names of the pre-Christian Old English months of the year [ch.15].

© Copyright Dr Sam Newton, Blotmonaþ AD 2000

Further Reading

Kenneth Harrison, The Framework of Anglo-Saxon History to AD900 (Cambridge 1976), especially pp.1-14.
C.W.Jones (ed.), Bedae Opera de Temporibus (Cambridge, Mass. 1943).
A.L.Meaney, “Bede and Anglo-Saxon Paganism”, Parergon ns 3 (1985), pp.1-29, especially pp.2-8.

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