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January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a 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.

Ancient Roman observances during this month include Cervula and Juvenalia, celebrated January 1, as well as one of three Agonalia, celebrated January 9, and Carmentalia, celebrated January 11. These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar


January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology.[1]

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[citation needed] 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 prosinec. The name, associated with millet bread and the act of asking for something, was first written in 1466 in the Škofja Loka manuscript.[2]

According to Theodor Mommsen,[3] 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[]

Snow in the Northern Hemisphere in the month of January

January observances[]

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

Month-long observances[]

January, painting by Leandro Bassano

Food months in the United States[]

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

Non-Gregorian observances, 2020 dates[]

All Baha'i, Islamic, and Jewish observances begin at sundown prior to the date listed, and end at sundown on the date in question.

Moveable observances, 2020 dates[]

This list does not necessarily imply either official status or general observance.

January 2 unless that day is a Sunday, in which case January 3: January 2

First Friday: January 4

Second Saturday: January 11

Second Monday: January 13

Friday before third Monday: January 17

Third Friday: January 17

Sunday closest to January 22: January 19

Third full week of January: January 19–25

Last full week of January: January 19–25

Third Monday: January 20

Wednesday of the third full week of January: January 22

Friday between January 19–25: January 24

Last Saturday: January 25

Last Sunday: January 26

January 30 or the nearest Sunday: January 26

Last Monday in January: January 27

Fourth Monday: January 27

Monday Closest to January 29:

Fixed observances[]


  1. ^ "Why does the year start on January 1". Britannica. Archived from the original on 6 September 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
  2. ^ Stabej, Jože (1966). "Ob petstoletnici škofjeloškega zapisa slovenskih imen za mesece" [On the 500th Anniversary of the Škofja Loka Recording of Slovene Month Names]. Loški razgledi (in Slovenian). Muzejsko društvo Škofja Loka [Museum Society of Škofja Loka]. 13. ISSN 0459-8210. Archived from the original on 2014-01-08.
  3. ^ The History of Rome, volume 4, The Revolution, ISBN 1-4353-4597-5, page 4
  4. ^ "January Birth Flower : Flower Meaning". birthflowersguide.com. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06.
  5. ^ "January National Codependency Awareness Month". Diane Jellen. Archived from the original on 2015-01-05.
  6. ^ "January is National Healthy Weight Awareness Month : Importance of Physical Fitness". usphs.gov. Archived from the original on 2015-02-15.
  7. ^ "Presidential Proclamation—Stalking Awareness Month". whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on 2015-02-24.
  8. ^ a b Chase's Calendar of Events 2013. The McGraw-Hill Companies. 2013. ISBN 9780071813334. Archived from the original on 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  9. ^ "JANUARY 2009, AS "CALIFORNIA DRIED PLUM DIGESTIVE HEALTH MONTH"". Office of the Governor, State of California. November 20, 2008. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  10. ^ Hirsch, J. M. (August 18, 2004). "Food turns eating into stream of holidays". Associated Press via Kentucky New Era.
  11. ^ Rem, Kathryn (March 9, 2010). "Yesterday was National Crabmeat Day and you missed it". The State Journal-Register. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013.
  12. ^ Gavilan, Jessica (February 7, 2006). "Mark your calendar". The Gainesville Sun. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016.
  13. ^ "The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared unconstitutional the day of RS". b92.net. Archived from the original on 31 December 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2016.