How Did June Get Its Name?

The name of June, like most of the months, dates back to ancient Rome. Today, we follow the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, as History notes. However, the Gregorian calendar was based on the Roman calendar, according to Almanac. The original Roman calendar was borrowed in part from the ancient Greeks (per WebExhibits). At first, it only had 10 formally named months — what we now know as March through December. The first two months of winter were considered "dead" because the military and the government were in recess. The ancient Roman king, Numa Pompilius, is credited with having introduced January and February, bringing the total number of months up to the familiar 12 (per Britannica).

June, or Junius, is one of the original 10 months and was named after the Roman goddess Juno, as noted by the British Museum. Juno was the wife of Jupiter, the king of the gods. She was also the goddess of marriage and childbirth. June also comes from the Latin "juvenis," meaning "young people," according to Almanac.

June and Juno

June's connection to its Roman origins persists in more than its name. Because Juno was the Roman goddess of marriage and childbirth, June has traditionally been considered an auspicious month for weddings, according to Almanac. The popularity of the June wedding also has its origins in the Celtic culture. Traditionally, young couples would start to court on May 1, or the Cross-Quarter Day of Beltane. They were then supposed to spend three months getting to know each other and get married on August 1, the next Cross-Quarter Day. But many young lovebirds decided they couldn't wait that long, so the wedding date was moved up to mid-June.

Despite Juno's association with both June and marriage, however, there is one notable Roman exception to the idea that the month was lucky for weddings. When Roman poet Ovid asked the high priestess of Jupiter when his daughter should be married, the priestess told him that a marriage between May 15 and June 15 would be unlucky, writer Bill Petro noted. The second half of June was still fair game, though.