Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Roman Calendar: The Fabric of Our Time

Pierce Taylor
Santa Rosa District Schools


We look at a calendar every day, but most of us do not appreciate the origins of our calendar. Students will learn about the Roman origins and the evolution of our calendar.


The student identifies and discusses various aspects of the target culture (e.g., social and political institutions and laws).

The student knows elements of the target language that signify time, and the similarities and differences between comparable linguistic markers in the target language and in his or her own language.

The student recognizes the contributions of other parallel cultures (e.g., Native American, African, and European) to the target culture.


Johnson, Van L. THE ROMAN ORIGINS OF OUR CALENDAR. Miami, OH: American Classical League, 1974.
-Copies of -Calendar Vocabulary- (See Associated File)
-Copies of a standard calendar with all twelve months on the same page or student planners are excellent.
-Copies of “Latin Classroom Calendar” (See Associated File)
-A History of the Calendar (See Associated File)
-Copies of “Latin Classroom Calendar” worksheet (See Associated File)


1. Download the Associated File and make copies of appropriate items for each student.
2. Carefully review “A History of the Calendar.” You may refer to the resources listed in “Materials” for clarification or further information.
3. You may want to look at a reproduction of an actual Roman calendar. See Weblinks.


1. Hand out copies or ensure that each student has a copy of the modern calendar. Ask students what they know about the calendar. Point out that the modern calendar is called the Gregorian calendar, which evolved from the Roman calendar. Identify the objective of understanding the evolution of the calendar and its Roman origins.

2. Hand out copies of the “Latin Classroom Calendar.” Ask students to compare this calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Ensure that students recognize the Latin spelling of the months and the original names for July and August. Refer
to -Calendar Vocabulary-

3. Lecture from material in “A History of the Calendar.” Discuss the agrarian roots of the Romans and the impact of agrarian concerns on the formation of the calendar. Discuss the differences between a lunar year and solar year. Discuss the calendar reforms of Julius Caesar (Julian calendar). Discuss the minor reforms of Pope Gregory XIII and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in the West.

4. Referring to “A History of the Calendar,” discuss the adoption of a seven-day week and the planetary origins of the days of the week. Ensure that students understand the connection between the distance of the seven “planets” from the earth and the order of the days of the week.

5. Discuss the division of a Roman month and the naming of individual days. Students should be able to identify the Kalends, Nonnes, and Ides of each month, to name the days of the week in Latin, and to identify the Germanic gods from whom we derive the names of certain days, associated with the Roman gods for whom the planets are named.

6. The teacher will assess the lesson. Refer to the rubric in the Associated File. Also , there is a blank -Latin Classroom Calendar- and a worksheet in the Associated File which may be used for practice and/or assessment.


The following criteria are assessed with the attached rubric (see Associated File):
-Student names the months in Latin and identifies their origins.
-Student identifies the three main days dividing a Roman month.
-Student names the days of the week in Latin and identifies the Germanic god/goddess associated with the Roman god/goddess.


Level II Latin students or Social Studies students may research the political, economic, and social implications of Caesar's reforms.

Web Links

Web supplement for The Roman Calendar: The Fabric of Our Time
A Roman calendar

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