The Romans named the days of the month by counting down to kalends, ides and nones. We use numbers counting up from one for the first day of the month. When did this change take place?

I assume that it was gradual, with people using the modern system when it was the more convenient, but I can find no information about who did it, nor when it happened, except a vague reference to the Roman system being in use until the Renaissance.

  • Welcome! Very interesting question. Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 20:40

2 Answers 2


This is covered by Bonnie Blackburn and LeoFranc Holford-Strevens in their book The Oxford Companion to the Year: An exploration of calendar customs and time-reckoning (1999, reprinted with corrections 2003, p. 671). They call the method we use today the "forward count". The forward count begins to be attested in the fifth century, and makes greater inroads from the eleventh century. But the Roman style is not considered less Christian; Gregory XIII used the Roman date style in his bull ordering the reform of the calendar in 1583.

  • Thank you Gerard Ashton for a very useful answer. I have ordered a copy of the Oxford book, it looks as though it will answer not only the question I posed here, but also a lot more about relevant matters which I have been attempting to discover, by Internet searches, for some time Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 14:14

This article on the Codex-Calendar of 354 may be of help. This and some encyclopedia articles on kalends, nones and ides implies that the Roman form of the calendar was tied to the old pagan religions, and that it competed with the 7 day weekly cycles of the church calendar.

So though the words remain in the language, they drop out of the calendar with the collapse of the pagan aristocracy.

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