The History of the month January

Stephanie Kalinowski ’19, Student Life Editor

Do you ever wonder how or who decided the first month of the year was going to be called January? Probably not because when we think of January, many of us focus on the cold weather or our new year resolutions. However, according to timeanddate.com, “The months of January and February did not feature in earlier versions of the Roman calendar, which divided the year into 10 months and left 61 days unaccounted for in the winter. They were added around 700 BCE. January and February were initially the last months of the calendar year, which began in March (Martius). However, in 450 BCE, the beginning of the year was moved to January 1.”  January originally consisted of thirty days when it was added to the 10-month Roman calendar. Shortly after, a day was added making it 31 days long in 46 BCE by Julius Caesar.

They also said, “January is named after the Roman god of doors, Janus, because this month is the door to the year. Janus represents all beginnings and possesses the ability to see all  things past and future.” This shows where the whole ‘New Year’s resolutions’ idea originated from. For example, in the Medieval era knights would take a “peacock vow” at the end of Christmas season to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry. Now, we make commitments like eating healthier or being more organized. There were many changes to our calendar since then and how we keep track of time which could even mean we are in wrong month right now, we just trust that it is right.   

January allows us to hit this invisible reset button and to start the year in positive spirits. It is crazy to think that January used to be a month at the end of the year, even though the name is translated to “presided over doors and beginnings,” but many changes to the calendar were made since then.
Photo courtesy of Central California

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