The first month of the year has several historical fun facts. For example, did you know that January was named after Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings? If you’re looking for ways to start this year right, here are some fun traditions, amazing holidays, and historical fun facts for the month of January 2022.
The Roman god Janus
As explained, the month of January was named after the Roman god Janus. This god is depicted with having two faces, one face is looking into the past while the other face has the ability to look into the future. Truly, this is a fitting symbol for entering the first month of the New Year. Oftentimes, the Romans would exchange good wishes and make promises to Janus.
History of January
Another historical fun fact about January (and February) is that these months were not originally part of the calendar that the Romans used since the winter months are considered dormant, both in the aspect of making war and in terms of agriculture. The Romans believed that this was a time of peace. In fact, until 450 BCE, the calendar that the Romans use was only 10 months long, which begins in March as a result of the March Equinox (Martius). The month of March was named after the god of War who was also the guardian of agriculture.
Now that you’re aware of some of the historical facts about January from the perspective of the Romans, let’s look at some important dates in the month of January.
- The first of January is New Year’s Day. There are tons of traditions that people from around the world would practice during New Year’s Day.
- The fifth of January brings the Twelfth Night. This is a custom practice from the English folk that marked the end of the 12-day winter solstice celebration and the end of Christmas merrymaking. On this day, it was tradition for companies to toast each other from the wassail bowl.
- The sixth of January is Epiphany. On a more religious note, the New Testament’s Gospels state that on this day, the Magi (or the three wise men or kings) brought gifts to the infant Jesus. Some people would bake an epiphany tart, which is also known as a king cake.
- The seventh of January is also known as Distaff Day. This day, which is the day after Epiphany, marked the day women went back to spinning after their 12-day Christmas merrymaking. It is called Distaff Day as a distaff is a wooden rod or staff that holds wool or flax. In olden times, they realized that it was much harder to go back to work after the holidays, which is why the women’s husbands would try to set fire to the flax of their wives’ wooden staffs. As a way to retaliate, the women would douse their husbands with buckets of water.
- The seventeenth of January is the birthday of the world-renowned inventor, scientist, and statesman, Benjamin Franklin. This day is also the observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which honors the civil rights leader and his principles dedicated to non-violence.
- Some other important dates to keep in mind include January 20 as National Penguin Day, January 22 as National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, and January 29 as National Puzzle Day.
- The entire month of January is also regarded as National Hot Tea Month and National Clean Up Your Computer Month.
The importance of new beginnings, which is represented by the month of January, is also evident in astronomy. In the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll see that the days are starting to get longer again as people naturally look forward to the re-emergence of light.