Why is November the 11th, not 9th month?

November, the eleventh month of the year, actually takes its name from the Latin word for the number nine, and it isn’t unique in this regard. September, October and December are named after the Roman numbers seven, eight and 10 respectively. July and August used to be named Quintilis and Sextilis, meaning fifth and sixth month, before they were renamed after Julius Caesar and his heir, Augustus. So why are these names all off kilter by two months?

There are two theories. The first would have you believe that there used to be just 10 months in the Roman calendar. At some point, when they supposedly changed it to 12, the Romans added January and February at the front of the year, which pushed the other 10 months and their names off course. The second would have you believe that there were always 12 months, but New Year’s Day used to be March 1 and the last month of the year was February. But over many decades and centuries, through a series of bureaucratic and political changes, the New Year holiday simply drifted back in the calendar until it landed on Jan. 1. 

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