The Ultimate Guide to the Spanish Calendar: Dates, Holidays and More
“Time is relative; its only worth depends upon what we do as it is passing.” – Albert Einstein
As with many other things, Einstein was right about time. But although he completely changed the paradigm of modern science by understanding time as relative, he only made it even more important for the rest of us.
Time is everywhere. In the English calendar, the Chinese calendar, and yes, the Spanish calendar, too. And you’d be surprised to know the amount of time we spend talking about time. So there is no way around it, you need to learn about time and all its related terms in Spanish.
In today’s post, we’ll learn:
- the crucial difference between English and Spanish calendars
- how to say the days of the week and months of the year in Spanish
- what AC and DC stand for in the Spanish calendar
- the names of seasons and holidays in Spanish
The Spanish Calendar
Once your Spanish progress reaches a certain level, you need to expand your knowledge base and introduce more aspects of life into it. Time is one of the most useful social constructs ever created, and as such learning how to use it in Spanish is unavoidable.
The Spanish calendar is similar to the English one, only with a crucial difference that we’ll study in detail in a moment. This means that to master the Spanish calendar all you have to do is to learn the right vocabulary and be careful with the Spanish peculiarities such as number and gender.
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Days of the Week
Here at Spanish Homeschool Academy we have dedicated a post to los días de la semana or “the days of the week.” I recommend reading it to get a deeper understanding of the origins of the names of the days of the week in Spanish and see real-life examples of them.
For now, I’m just highlighting the fact that all days of the week in Spanish are masculine, which means that you have to use the definite articles el and los with them.
el lunes – Monday
el martes – Tuesday
el miércoles – Wednesday
el jueves – Thursday
el viernes – Friday
el sábado – Saturday
el domingo – Sunday
Please note that in Spanish the days of the week are not capitalized.
Months of the Year
The origins of the names of the months in the Spanish calendar go back to Roman times. Originally, the Roman calendar only had 10 months, following the Moon cycle. For this reason, the last four months of the year have a numerical origin just as in English:
September – septiembre – séptimo (seventh) month of the year.
October – octubre – octavo (eighth) month of the year.
November – noviembre – noveno (ninth) month of the year.
December – diciembre – décimo (tenth) month of the year.
The Roman calendar used to begin on March 1, as there were 50 days of winter that didn’t belong to any month. January and February were added at a later stage to account for those no-month days. With the advent of spring in March—named after Mars, their god of war—the military campaigns started as the weather allowed for it.
January – enero – named after Janus (Ianuarius, in Latin), their god of two faces and doors.
February – febrero means “to clean oneself,” because in this month the Romans used to celebrate religious rites in honor of Pluto to purify themselves.
March – marzo – named after Mars, their god of war.
April – abril – named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty.
May – mayo – named after Maia, their goddess of Spring.
June – junio – named after Juno, their goddess of marriage.
July – julio – originally called Quintilis for being the fifth month, it was later renamed to honour the Emperor Julius Caesar.
August – agosto – originally called Sextilis for being the sixth month, it was later renamed to honour the Emperor Augustus.
Now in order and only in Spanish, so you can visualize them better:
Just like the days of the week, the months of the year in the Spanish calendar are not capitalized, unless they come after a period or start a sentence or paragraph, as in the list above.
AC & DC
I know the header is a bit misleading, but I’m sure this way you won’t forget about what I’m about to explain and no, it has nothing to do with a mildly successful rock band of the ‘80s, nor with anything about electricity currents.
Just as in the English calendar there is an A.D. (or C.E.) era, and a B.C. (or B.C.E.) era, in the Spanish calendar happens the same but with slightly different terms.
A.C. stands for antes de Cristo or “before Christ.”
D.C. stands for después de Cristo or “after Christ.”
This means that in the Spanish calendar we’re living in the year 2020 D.C. (después de Cristo).
How to Write the Date in Spanish
This topic is the cause of way too much confusion around the world. While in the U.S. you write the date starting with the month followed by the day and then the year, in the Spanish calendar the day comes first, followed by the month and ending with the year.
This means that an important date globally known as 9/11, in the Spanish-speaking world it’s actually the 11/9, 11S or simply known as septiembre 11. Just like with the billion discussion, this issue is something that the international community should agree on and create a global standard to avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
Let’s see a couple examples of dates written in Spanish:
September 12, 2020 (09/12/20) – 12 de septiembre de 2020 (12/09/20)
March 21, 1981 (03/21/81) – 21 de marzo de 1981 (21/03/81)
Seasons in Spanish
The seasons are not exactly part of the calendar, but they are another way to represent the flow of time in a single year. For that reason and without further ado, I’m including them in this post:
la primavera – Spring
el verano – Summer
el otoño – Fall (Autumn)
el invierno – Winter
Just like with the days of the week and the months of the year, seasons are not capitalized in Spanish.
Holidays in Spanish
The holidays are the rare capitalized terms in the Spanish calendar. Here are some of the most commonly used in the Spanish-speaking world:
la Navidad – Christmas
la Nochebuena – Christmas Eve
el Día de Muertos – Day of the Dead
el Día del Amor (Día de los Enamorados) – St. Valentine’s Day
la Pascua – Easter
la Semana Santa – Spring Break
el Día de las Madres – Mother’s Day
el Día del Padre – Father’s Day
el Año Nuevo – New Year’s Eve
el Día de Acción de Gracias – Thanksgiving Day
el Día de la Raza/Día de la Hispanidad – Columbus Day
el Cinco de Mayo – Cinco de Mayo
el Día de San Patricio – St. Patrick’s Day
Other Spanish Calendar Vocabulary
Finally, let’s study some other important terms needed to navigate through the Spanish calendar at ease.
la semana – week
el fin de semana – weekend
entre semana – working days
el mes – month
el año – year
el cumpleaños – birthday
la próxima semana – next week
la quincena – fortnight
el día – day
la noche – night
el calendario – calendar
asueto, día feriado – holiday
¡Hasta la Próxima!
See you next time! In the meantime, try to introduce the new terms of the Spanish calendar that you’ve just learned into real-life conversations to test your mastering of time in Spanish.
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