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January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and is also the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year's Day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of winter) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer). In the Southern hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa.

Ancient Roman observances during this month include Cervula and Juvenalia, celebrated January 1, as well as one of three Agonalia, celebrated January 9, and Carmentalia, celebrated January 11. These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.


Adoration of the Magi, Epiphany, January 6

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology.[1]

Traditionally, the original Roman calendar consisted of 10 months totaling 304 days, winter being considered a month-less period. Around 713 BC, the semi-mythical successor of Romulus, King Numa Pompilius, is supposed to have added the months of January and February, so that the calendar covered a standard lunar year (354 days). Although March was originally the first month in the old Roman calendar, January became the first month of the calendar year either under Numa or under the Decemvirs about 450 BC (Roman writers differ). In contrast, each specific calendar year was identified by the names of the two consuls, who entered office on March 15 until 153 BC, at which point they started entering office on January 1.

Various Christian feast dates were used for the New Year in Europe during the Middle Ages, including March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) and December 25. However, medieval calendars were still displayed in the Roman fashion with twelve columns from January to December. Beginning in the 16th century, European countries began officially making January 1 the start of the New Year once again—sometimes called Circumcision Style because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the seventh day after December 25.

Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath (meaning "wolf month") and Charlemagne's designation Wintarmanoth ("winter / cold month"). In Slovene, it is traditionally called prosinec. The name, associated with millet bread and the act of asking for something, was first written in 1466 in the Škofja Loka manuscript.[2]

According to Theodor Mommsen,[3] 1 January became the first day of the year in 600 AUC of the Roman calendar (153 BC), due to disasters in the Lusitanian War. A Lusitanian chief called Punicus invaded the Roman territory, defeated two Roman governors, and killed their troops. The Romans resolved to send a consul to Hispania, and in order to accelerate the dispatch of aid, "they even made the new consuls enter into office two months and a half before the legal time" (March 15).

January symbols[edit]

Snow in the Northern Hemisphere in the month of January
Garnet gemstone
Garnet gemstone
Snowdrop (Galanthus) flower
Snowdrop (Galanthus) flower
  • January's birthstone is the garnet, which represents constancy.[4]
  • Pink dianthus
    Its birth flower is the cottage pink Dianthus caryophyllus or galanthus as well as the traditional carnation.[5][6]
  • The Japanese floral emblem of January is the camellia (Camellia sinensis).[citation needed]
  • In Finnish, the month of tammikuu means the heart of the winter and because the name literally means "oak moon", it can be inferred that the oak tree is the heart of the grand forest with many valuable trees as opposed to the typical Arctic forests, which are typically pine and spruce. The photograph of a large tree covered with ice against a blue sky is a familiar scene during Finland's winter.
  • The zodiac signs for the month of January are Capricorn (until January 19) and Aquarius (January 20 onwards).
  • The name of the full moon occurring in January is the wolf moon.

January observances[edit]

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

Month-long observances[edit]

January, painting by Leandro Bassano

Food months in the United States[edit]

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

Non-Gregorian observances[edit]

All Baha'i, Islamic, and Jewish observances begin at sundown prior to the date listed, and end at sundown on the date in question.

Moveable observances[edit]

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

January 2 unless that day is a Sunday, in which case January 3

First Friday

Second Saturday

Second Monday

Friday before third Monday

Third Friday

Sunday closest to January 22

Third full week of January

Last full week of January

Third Monday

Wednesday of the third full week of January

Friday between January 19–25

Last Saturday

Last Sunday

January 30 or the nearest Sunday

Last Monday in January

Fourth Monday

Monday Closest to January 29

Fixed observances[edit]


  1. ^ "Why does the year start on January 1". Britannica. Archived from the original on 6 September 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  2. ^ Stabej, Jože (1966). "Ob petstoletnici škofjeloškega zapisa slovenskih imen za mesece" [On the 500th Anniversary of the Škofja Loka Recording of Slovene Month Names]. Loški razgledi (in Slovenian). Muzejsko društvo Škofja Loka [Museum Society of Škofja Loka]. 13. ISSN 0459-8210. Archived from the original on 2014-01-08.
  3. ^ The History of Rome, volume 4, The Revolution, ISBN 1-4353-4597-5, page 4
  4. ^ Stevans, C. M.; Daniels, Cora Linn (2003). Encyclopædia of superstitions, folklore, and the occult sciences of the world : a comprehensive library of human belief and practice in the mysteries of life. Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific. p. 744. ISBN 9781410209153. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  5. ^ "January Birth Flower : Flower Meaning". birthflowersguide.com. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06.
  6. ^ "January Birth Flowers".
  7. ^ "January National Codependency Awareness Month". Diane Jellen. Archived from the original on 2015-01-05.
  8. ^ "January is National Healthy Weight Awareness Month : Importance of Physical Fitness". usphs.gov. Archived from the original on 2015-02-15.
  9. ^ "Presidential Proclamation—Stalking Awareness Month". whitehouse.gov. 21 December 2010. Archived from the original on 2017-01-27 – via National Archives.
  10. ^ a b Chase's Calendar of Events 2013. The McGraw-Hill Companies. 2013. ISBN 9780071813334. Archived from the original on 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  11. ^ "JANUARY 2009, AS "CALIFORNIA DRIED PLUM DIGESTIVE HEALTH MONTH"". Office of the Governor, State of California. November 20, 2008. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  12. ^ Hirsch, J. M. (August 18, 2004). "Food turns eating into stream of holidays". Associated Press via Kentucky New Era.
  13. ^ Rem, Kathryn (March 9, 2010). "Yesterday was National Crabmeat Day and you missed it". The State Journal-Register. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013.
  14. ^ Gavilan, Jessica (February 7, 2006). "Mark your calendar". The Gainesville Sun. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016.
  15. ^ "The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared unconstitutional the day of RS". b92.net. Archived from the original on 31 December 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2016.