The New Year

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Did you know?

January is a time of change and new beginnings. People often look forward to January as a chance to wipe the slate clean, often resolving to make changes to improve their quality of life in the months ahead. Such traditions may date back to the ancient god for which the month of January was named.

January is named after the ancient Roman god Janus, who was the god of beginnings and transitions as well as the god of gates, doorways, and passages of time. Janus also was believed to preside over the beginning and ending of conflicts. Janus is usually depicted as having two faces that point in opposite directions. Because of these dual faces, Janus was seen as duplicitous and being in charge of opposites. According to Roman mythology, Janus was able to see into the past and the future. He also was depicted as guardian of the new year and keeper of the calendar. There was no counterpart to Janus in Greek mythology.

When examining the many attributes of Janus, it is easy to see why the month of January would be named after this multifaceted ancient Roman god.