Mythic Russia

Heroic roleplaying in a mythical medieval Russia

The Month of Greening Birches, and other old slav lyricism — February 12, 2012

The Month of Greening Birches, and other old slav lyricism

Thanks to Transparent Language’s Russian Blog, I’ve been reminded of the wonderfully lyrical old slavic names for the months. Check out the postings covering the first half of the year here, and the second half here, but just to pick on a few personal favorites:

  • January used to be called, among other things, prosinets, ‘shining month,’ as the days were getting longer;
  • February was sechen‘, ‘chopping,’ because it was a time for cutting down trees for firewood, as well as v’yugovei, ‘blizzard-blower;’
  • April was the month of greening birches, beryozozol, and snegogon, ‘who drives away the snow;’
  • August was zarev, ‘blazing month,’ both for its sunsets and its forest fires;
  • October was listopad, ‘leaf fall’ and svadebnik, ‘wedding month,’ given that now the hard work in the fields was over it was time for family unions;
  • December, unsurprisingly, was studyonyi, ‘the month of bitter chill,’ or vetrozim, ‘the month of winter wind.’

(By the way, although these are just historical artifacts in Russia, the Czech language still uses such colorful descriptions — and interestingly enough, Listopad is the Czech November compared with the Russian October: autumn comes rather sooner to the Rus’)