Word of the Week: January

January is a noun and defined as the first month of the Gregorian calendar. First used in the 14th century, January is one of the many words in the English language that has its roots in Latin.

The word January derives from Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. Janus is usually depicted with two faces: one face looking into the past and one face looking into the future. Even today, during the month of January, people continue to look into the past to set resolutions and goals for their future. Other historical names for January include the Anglo-Saxon word Wulf-monath and Wintermanoth, which means wolf month and winter month, respectively. 

Today, the most widely used calendar is the Gregorian calendar. Introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, the Gregorian calendar can be traced back to the Roman calendar, which consisted of 10 months and a dead period during winter. The original 10 months were Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December. In the Roman calendar, the dead period between fall and spring was the result of an inactive military and government. At the start of spring, the military resumed activity, festivals began, and the new year was celebrated in March. In 713 BC, the months January and February were added to fill in this unorganized winter period; however, it wasn’t until 450 BC when January replaced March as the first month of the calendar year.

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“January.” Merriam-Webster.com

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