Unlike the Russian “январь”, “февраль”, “март”, etc., the names of the months in Ukrainian are nothing like their latin-based equivalents. Having kept their original references to nature and age-old traditions, they might be harder to learn, but so much more fun! Especially, once you know their “origin stories” 👇
Ukrainian word for ‘month’ is “місяць”, which also means “moon”. Makes sense, since a month is the time it takes for the Moon to make a full circle around the Earth.
The name “СІЧЕНЬ” (January) comes from the word “січа”, meaning clearing the ground, preparing it for sowing in spring.
February was named “ЛЮТИЙ” (fierce) after the violent snowstorms and low temperatures that marked winters at the end of the last century .
“БЕРЕЗЕНЬ” comes from the word “березол” – getting birch tree (береза) ash that was used to make glass. At one point this month was called “март” more similarly to the name in English.
The name “КВІТЕНЬ” comes from the word “квітнути” – to flower. Guess why 😉 Other names for this month include “апріль”, “лукавець” and “цвітень”.
“ТРАВЕНЬ” is the last month of spring. “Трава” is Ukrainian for “grass”. It used to be called “май” after the ancient Roman goddess of growth Maia.
The first month of summer is called “ЧЕРВЕНЬ” after an invaluable insect – “червець”, from which people used to extract the pigment for red dye.
“ЛИПЕНЬ” (July) is when linden trees are in bloom and “липовий мед” (linden honey) is harvested for its taste and wondrous healing properties.
“СЕРПЕНЬ” – from the word “серп” – sickle, which people used to harvest crops.
September is the month when heather (верес) blooms. That is why in Polissia (region in the North-West of Ukraine) the month was named after the plant – “ВЕРЕСЕНЬ”.
“ЖОВТЕНЬ” – derives from the word “жовтий” – yellow, the colour of October leaves. The name exists since the times of Kievan Rus’.
The falling of leaves or “leaf-fall” is “листопад” in Ukrainian, which very appropriately became the name for November – “ЛИСТОПАД”.
“ГРУДЕНЬ” is the last month of the year. It is when the ground is frozen and creates humps – “груддя”.
We hope this glimpse into the etymology of Ukrainian month names was interesting and useful. Learn more Ukrainian and Russian as foreign in classes with ALMA School!