Months of the year

Months of the year. The Ukrainian names of the months reflect a strong consciousness of natural phenomena. January (sichen’) is derived from the verb sikty, meaning to cut to pieces, to slash. In a similar vein, February (liutyi) can be understood to be ‘the angry [or fierce] one.’ The next three months derive their names from spring-like phenomena: March (berezen’) from the sprouting of the birch tree (bereza), April (kviten’) from the emergence of flowers (kvity), and May (traven’) from the greening of the grass (trava). June (cherven’) takes its name from larva (cherviak), which commonly attacks trees and orchards at this time of year; July (lypen’), from the blossoming of the linden tree (lypa); and August (serpen’), from the sickle (serp) used to harvest grain. A type of fern (veres) lent its name to September (veresen’), and the yellowing of trees (zhovtinnia) and the dropping of leaves (lystia), to the names for October (zhovten’) and November (lystopad) respectively. The name for December (hruden’) alludes to the return of winter and frozen lumps of earth (hrudky). Many of these names for the months were already in use by Kyivan Rus’ times, although cherven’ (June) was used for July and hruden’ (December) for November. Different names were also given to January (prosynets’, derived from winter's rousing from sleep, or prosynannia, as the days grew longer), February (snizhen’, or ‘snowy one’), June (izok, after a type of steppe horse), August (zarev, the time for hunting deer), and December (studen’, noting a period of ‘cooling’ off, from studyty ‘to cool).

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