New Year, New You
Although this fact is roughly 2,700 years old — not so new.
Hi! I’m Joey, the creator of Fun Fact Friday, the newsletter for curious people. This issue is a-door-able.
Today’s fact: January is translated from the Latin word for “door,” symbolizing the breaking through into a new year.
Most writings assert January is named for the Roman god Janus, who kept the gate of Heaven.
But Janus’s name derives from the Latin word “ianua,” meaning “door.” And January stems from that root on the Roman calendar, written as “Ianaurius.”
It’s why Janus has two faces — one looking back to the previous year and one looking forward to the year ahead. Similarly, a door can let you in or out, pivoting from one direction to the other.
Depending on which historical writings you believe, January either got its start around 713 BC, courtesy of King Numa Pompilius, or in 153 BC, when Roman consuls first began entering office on January 1, instead of the previously used March 15.
Julius Caesar also added some changes through the Julian calendar, though it kept January 1 as the start date of the year.
Despite their presence at the start of the year, January and February were the final additions to the Roman calendar. Previously, people just called those months “winter.”
Considering how bleak January and February weather can be, blending them all into one 59 or 60-day wintry cocktail (hello, Leap Year!) seems fitting.
But we’re in a new year, and that means new beginnings. Here’s hoping you break down all kinds of doors in 2024.
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