Until 46 BC the ‘Roman calendar’, with just ten months, was used. Julius Caesar proposed that radical reforms be made and on 1 January 45 BC a revised calendar was adopted with two months added to the beginning of the year. However, by 1582 this calendar was eleven days out of sync with reality due to the exact length of a year not being understood. In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII decreed that a correction be made and this new calendar became known as the ‘Gregorian’ and is the one predominantly recognised today.
January became the first month of the year in both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars. Prior to this the first month was March and it is generally accepted that 1 January was chosen as the first day of the ‘New Year’ as this was when newly elected consuls took office.
January is named after the Roman god Janus and there was no equivalent in other ancient civilisations. He was worshipped as the god of beginnings and endings; of journeys and trading and shipping; of doorways and passages; of time and contrasts; of birth and transitions; of war and peace.
His images usually have two faces, looking to the future and the past. With all that responsibility I wonder if he wasn’t forever searching for where the next problem was coming from!
There has been a suggestion that January was named for Juno, queen of the Roman gods: against this idea is that she was already the goddess for June; for the idea is that she was the protector and special counsellor of the state of Rome.
January, like Janus, has us looking forward with expectation while casting a backward glance at the events of the previous twelve months.
For many it is a time of making resolutions when we resolve to do things differently. Always better, as if we’ve looked back and found ourselves wanting. Many of these personal promises will be major changes, ones that may well be fundamental to our being. Changing attitudes, life styles, commitments, careers.
We reject our past and confront the new year in full battle cry.
January’s birthstone is garnet, a deep red semi-precious gemstone that is thought to aid higher thinking and self-empowerment. It also denotes constancy.
Even for those who find this notion fanciful it does deserve a second thought. At the beginning of a new year, indeed at any time, we would all do better to celebrate our positives. What we’ve got right, not what we’ve got wrong.
So looking at self-empowerment and being constant in what we believe seems to be a much healthier way to view future opportunities. Or, to use those wonderfully wise words:
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”
Embrace what you have achieved, the person you have become, and build on that.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the facts and the thoughts about the first month of the year. Do you celebrate a different New Year? Do you make resolutions? Do you break resolutions?
Please share your ideas and comments in the Reply box below.
Thank you for reading my blog. Have a great 2020.