January - Encyclopedia




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JANUARY, the first month in the modern calendar, consisting of thirty-one days. The name (Lat. Januarius) is derived from the two-faced Roman god Janus, to whom the month was dedicated. As doorkeeper of heaven, as looking both into the past and the future, and as being essentially the deity who busied himself with the beginnings of all enterprises, he was appropriately made guardian of the fortunes of the new year. The consecration of the month took place by an offering of meal, salt, frankincense and wine, each of which was new. The Anglo-Saxons called January Wulfmonath, in allusion to the fact that hunger then made the wolves bold enough to come into the villages. The principal festivals of the month are: New Year's Day; Feast of the Circumcision; Epiphany; TwelfthDay; and Conversion of St Paul (see Calendar).

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