January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and one of seven 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 (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.


January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after the Latin word for door (ianua) since January is the door to the year. The month is conventionally thought of as being named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology, but according to ancient Roman farmers' almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month.

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 May 1 or March 15 until 153 BC, from when they entered 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 január. The name, associated with millet bread and the act of asking for something, was first written in 1466 in the Škofja Loka manuscript.[3]

According to Theodor Mommsen, 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

  • January's birthstone is the garnet which represents constancy.
  • Its birth flower is the cottage pink Dianthus caryophyllus or galanthus.[4]
  • The Chinese floral emblem of January is the Prunus mume.
  • The Japanese floral emblem of January is the camellia (Camellia sinensis).
  • 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 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 20) and Aquarius (January 21 onwards).

Month-long observances

  • In Catholic tradition, January is the Month of the Holy Name of Jesus.
  • Dry January (United Kingdom)
  • National Codependency Awareness Month[5] (United States)
  • National Mentoring Month (United States)
  • National Healthy Weight Awareness Month [6] (United States)
  • Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month[7] (United States)
  • Stalking Awareness Month[8] (United States)

Food Months in the United States

This list does not necessarily imply either official status nor general observance.

Non-Gregorian observances, 2016

This list does not necessarily imply either official status nor general observance.

Movable observances, 2016 dates

This list does not necessarily imply either official status nor general observance.

First Friday - January 1

First Monday - January 4

Second Saturday - January 9

Second Monday - January 11

Third Friday - January 15

Friday before third Monday - January 15

Third full week of January - January 17–23

Third Sunday - January 17

Third Monday - January 18

Friday between January 19–25 - January 22

Last week of January - 24-30

Fourth Monday - January 25

'Last Saturday - January 30

Last Sunday - January 31

January 30 or the nearest Sunday - January 31

Movable Western Christian Observances, 2016

This list does not necessarily imply either official status nor general observance.

Movable Eastern Christian Observances, 2016

Fixed observances

This list does not necessarily imply either official status nor general observance.