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January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and one of seven Gregorian months with the 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 and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere.
January is named after Janus (Ianuarius), the god of the doorway; the name has its beginnings in Roman mythology, coming from the Latin word for door (ianua) - January is the door to the year. Traditionally, the original Roman calendar consisted of 10 months, totalling 304 days, winter being considered a monthless period. Around 713 BCE, the semi-mythical successor of Romulus, King Numa Pompilius, is supposed to have added the months of January and February, allowing the calendar to equal a standard lunar year (355 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 BCE (Roman writers differ). In contrast, years in dates were identified by naming two consuls, who entered office on May 1 and March 15 before 153 BCE when they began to enter office on January 1.
Various Christian feast dates were used for the New Year in Europe during the Middle Ages, including March 25 and December 25. However, medieval calendars were still displayed in the Roman fashion of twelve columns from January to December. Beginning in the sixteenth 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 eighth day from December 25.
In Finnish, the month is called tammikuu, meaning month of the oak, but the original meaning was the month of the heart of winter, as tammi has initially meant axis or core. In Czech this month is called leden, meaning ice month In Ukrainian it is січень meaning cutting or slicing perhaps referring to the wind. According to Theodor Mommsen (The History of Rome, volume 4, The Revolution, ISBN 1-4353-4597-5, page 4), the 1st of 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 slew their troops. The Romans resolved to send a consul to Spain and, in order to accelerate the despatch of aid, "they even made the new consuls enter on office two months and a half before the legal time" (15th of March).
Holidays in January
- New Year's Day – January 1
- Independence Day in Haiti - January 1
- Handsel Monday in Scotland and northern England – First Monday
- Three Wise Men Day in Latin America - January 6
- Russian and Ukrainian Christmas Eve, also known as Svyat Vechir - January 6
- Coptic Russian Orthodox Church Christmas – January 7
- Plough Sunday in Scotland and northern England – Sunday after January 6
- National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States – January 11
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States – Third Monday
- Australia Day in Australia – January 26
- Republic Day in India – January 26
- Makara Sankranthi (Festival of Harvest) in India – January 14
- Auckland Anniversary in Auckland, New Zealand – Monday closest to January 29
- Burns night in Scotland - January 25
- The uniting of Moldavia and Wallachia under the same ruler in 1859, Romania - January 24
- January's birthstone is the garnet which represents constancy.
- Its birth flower is the Dianthus caryophyllus or Galanthus.
- The Chinese floral emblem of January is the Prunus mume.
- The Japanese floral emblem of January is the camellia.