The Calends (Latin "Kalendae" "the called", gen. plural -"arum"), correspond to the first days of each month of the Roman calendar. The Romans assigned these calends to the first day of the month, signifying the start of the new moon cycleFact|date=February 2007. On that day, the pontiffs would announce at the Curia Calabra the rest days for the upcoming month, and the debtors had to pay off their debts that were inscribed in the calendaria, a sort of accounts book. The date (in this calendar system) was measured relative to days such as the Calends, Nones or Ides, for example, in modern terms, three days past Calends would be the 4th of the month. This sort of system would be used to date documents, diary entries, etc.

The rules for computation by Calends are included in the following verses:

Prima dies mensis cuiusque est dicta Kalendae:sex Maius Nonas, October, Iulius, et Mars;quattuor at reliqui: dabit Idus quilibet octo.Inde dies reliquos omnes dic esse Kalendas;quas retro numerans dices a mense sequente.1728]

After calculating this number, the pontiff would say something like:

Quinque dies te calo, Iuno nouella.

meaning: I invoke you, new Juno, for five days.

To find the day of the Calends we are in, count how many days remain in the month, and to that number add two. For example, April 22nd is the 10th of the Calends of May, because there are 8 days left in April, to which 2 being added, the sum is 10.

This word forms the basis of a collection of words in the English language, notably "calendar". The term itself is traditionally written with "K" at the beginning, following the ancient custom to do that in few words beginning with the "ka" syllable.

The calends being a feature of the Latin calendar, the Greek calendar had no calends. Accordingly, to postpone something "ad Kalendas Graecas" (to the Greek calends) meant postponing it forever. The phrase survived over the centuries in Greek and in the romance languages (French: "aux calendes grecques"; Portuguese: "às calendas gregas"; Romanian: "la Calendele Grecesti"; etc.).


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  • Calends — Cal ends, n. pl. [OE. kalendes month, calends, AS. calend month, fr. L. calendae; akin to calare to call, proclaim, Gr. ??????. CF. {Claim}.] The first day of each month in the ancient Roman calendar. [Written also {kalends}.] [1913 Webster] {The …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • calends — the first month of the ancient Roman calendar, is spelt with a c not a k …   Modern English usage

  • calends — [kal′əndz] pl.n. [ME calendes < OE calend, beginning of a month < L kalendae, the first of the month < calare, to announce solemnly, call out < IE base * kel > LOW2, CLAMOR] [often with sing. v.] [sometimes C ] the first day of… …   English World dictionary

  • calends — /kaebndz/ Among the Romans the first day of every month, being spoken of by itself, or the very day of the new moon, which usually happen together. And if pridie, the day before, be added to it, then it is the last day of the foregoing month, as… …   Black's law dictionary

  • calends —   n. pl. first day of month in ancient Roman calendar.    ♦ at the Greek calends, never.    ♦ calendal, a …   Dictionary of difficult words

  • calends — or kalends noun plural but singular or plural in construction Etymology: Middle English kalendes, from Latin kalendae, calendae Date: 14th century the first day of the ancient Roman month from which days were counted backward to the ides …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • calends — /kal euhndz/, n. (usually used with a pl. v.) the first day of the month in the ancient Roman calendar, from which the days of the preceding month were counted backward to the ides. Also, kalends. [1325 75; ME kalendes, alter. (with native pl.… …   Universalium

  • calends — noun the first day of the Roman month …   Wiktionary

  • CALENDS —    the first day of the Roman month, so called as the day on which the feast days and unlucky days of the month were announced …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • calends — cal·ends || kælɪndz n. first day of the month (according to the ancient Roman calendar) …   English contemporary dictionary

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