January

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January About this sound (pronunciation) 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 (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.

January starts on the same day of the week as October in common years, and starts on the same day of the week as April and July in leap years. In a common year, January ends on the same day of the week as February and October, and ends on the same day of the week as July in a leap year.

Contents

History

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 BC, 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 BC (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 BC 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 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 eighth day from December 25.

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