Monday, April 18, 2005

Month Names in Germany, France & Switzerland

Etienne Herrbach has kindly given me permission to quote his post to the

In German-written records, many forms can be found beside the standard German names resembling the English and French forms. The following table lists the various forms that can be seen more or less frequently in Alsace, but also in Germany and in Switzerland:

Legend: English / French / German; Alsatian (various forms)

January / Janvier / Januar; Jänner (Jenner), Wintermonat, Hartmonat, Hartung, Eismond

February / Février / Februar; Hornung, Taumond, Narrenmond

March / Mars / März; Lenzmond, Lenzmonat, Lenzing, Frühlingsmonat

April / Avril / April; Ostermonat, Ostermond

May / Mai / Mai; Wonnemonat, Weidemonat

June / Juin / Juni; Brachmond, Brachmonat, Rosenmonat

July / Juillet / Juli; Heumonat, Heumond

August / Août / August; Erntemonat, Ernting, Sichelmond, Bisemond

September / Septembre / September; 7ber, Herbstmonat, Herbstmond, Scheiding

October / Octobre / Oktober; 8ber, Weinmonat, Dachsmond

November / Novembre / November; 9ber, Windmonat, Nebelung

December / Décembre / Dezember; Xber, Christmonat, Heiligenmonat, Dustermond

(Note the roots "monat(h)" = month and "mond" = moon -- obvious relationship!)

The short forms (7bre, etc.) were often used in Latin records, too.

As to the French Revolutionary calendar, needless to say that the months did not correspond at all to traditional months; e.g. 1st Vendémiaire = 22 or 23 or 24 September, depending on the year. There are plenty of websites explaining that, and softwares converting dates between the two systems.

Let me just add that in Alsace the revolutionary months were sometimes translated into German-Alsatian names (Brumaire => Nebelmonat, Frimaire => Frostmonat, Nivose => Schneemonat, etc.). Therefore, one must be careful since some translated forms re-used the traditional forms above, e.g. Windmonat = Ventose, but also = November, Erntemonat = Messidor but also August. However, the translated forms of revolutionary months were not used very widely in Alsace; instead, the French names were spelled according to the "Alsatian accent": e.g. Termittor or Dermidor for Thermidor, Brairial for Prairial, etc.

- Wolff C., 1975. Guide des recherches généalogiques en Alsace. Editions Oberlin, Strasbourg. [out of print]
- Roll C.R., 1991. Manuel illustré pour la généalogie et l'histoire familiale en Alsace. Le Verger, éditeur, Illkirch. [in process of revision]


We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing. - Mother Teresa

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