January is often considered the month for deep reflection. We look back at the year behind us, bemoaning our regrets and celebrating our successes. And then, we look forward to the future year. We make well-meaning resolutions and hope for the best.
So, in this way, we’re all a little bit like Janus, the Roman god for which January is named. Janus is usually depicted with having two heads. that face in opposite directions. One looks back to the year departed, and one looks forward to the new and uncertain year ahead.
(The poetic term John Keats coined that describes living your life while accepting that it is filled with uncertainty seems appropos to this transitional time. Learn the term and its exact meaning, here.)
The god Saturn bestowed upon Janus this ability to see into the future and past.
Janus also represented transition, such as the time between youth and adulthood.
If you find it odd that a deity with two heads is the namesake for one of our prominent months, consider the story of the obscure, one-armed Norse god that Tuesday is named after. His name, and history, can be found here.
I actually knew all of this because I did a project in 7th grade about Janus. Glad to see I got all my facts correct!
WoW really strange …… never think of it earlier.
Wow! Really strange… never thought of it. Interesting.
Janus, the god of doors. Janitor, a doorman. Makes sense.
I knew that!!!!!!
[...] January — another year contrary — we eat too much of dairy, — being pulled both to and fro. — The method of derision is not an ultimate decision — no matter which way the gods are looking, — we know it’s little that we know. — However, when the door is open, — We take a step on through. — Of course it’s a Trap. — We’re out of our minds — but we do it all for you. — At Burger King or McDonald’s, — it’s all about the same. — Although the Golden Arches and Coca-Cola play the big Inter-Galactic game. — Hooray for the Red, White and Yellow! — But don’t count out Colonel Buddha. — What else is there to do? — Of course it’s a Trap and we know we’re a Sap and a Happy New Year to you. — Which one of us do you mean? – Yah, sure, You Betcha. –>>Rupert L.T.Rhyme [...]
Very interesting information. However, you have lacked some necessary punctuation, such as the right parentheses to end the small section about the poetic term John Keats coined. Despite this, this is a pretty good effort. Good job, Hot Word. Keep it up!
Guessed it! But I could’ve sworn Janus was Greek…?
@Cyberquill: you are right. Just like the prefix “dec” for December, decade, decathlon etc, the prefix “jan” is used the same way for words associated with it.
i dont believe in any of the roman gods; i believe that they’re just myths and if they are realy real, i’d love some proof
If transitional with uncertainity, then after which state, anything productive as a god is who.
ha..i guessed the name..i just finished reading mythology…a book of a general concept and stories…and now..The Odyssey…im not a big fan of mythology..but the stories are quite interesting
Janus is two-faced, not two-headed.I already knew this- but look at the picture.
And yet it’s hard to find a door that works both ways.
THIS AWSOME INFO THANKS SO MUCH. WHERE COULD ONE GET INFO ON ALL THE MONTHS?
Wow, thanks for the info. This is interesting info.Never thought about it either.For sometime , i was thinking where the in the earth , how did the months has been named.Very much appreciated for the info.
I thought that the first month of the year in the ancient world was March, so September (“septem”) was the seventh month, October (“octo”) was the eighth month, and December (“decem”) was the tenth month. January would be the eleventh month, so it wouldn’t call for anything regarding old/new year. Someone clarify for me?
Shiela–You can google “origins of names of months” and get several websites with the info.
Wow! this is really great! I want to read some more.
“Which two-headed god is January named after”
It should be two-faced not two-headed.
[...] Roman God Is January Named After? Which two-headed god is January named after, and what does the month symbolize? | The Hot Word Being the dork I am I knew who Janus was Now for $64 thousand dollars, what movie uses the term [...]
This is amazing
i liked it…
I learned this knowledge about 10 years ago, when I began to study the origin of calendars. Since then, I have learned that in the ancient world, right from the beginning of time; that the month we know of as February was in fact the first month of the year. In other words, the time of February was marked as the beginning of spring and the first month of the year….NOT March or April, as some profess today. The twelve months of the year, initially were called by their numerical numbers (1st month,2nd, 3rd etc…) and latter were given Hebrew and many other National names. Knowing that the time of February (also named after a Roman god) was the true beginning of the year, makes the meaning of Janus or January much more interesting. Even by the Romans, the month February was a time of Spring cleaning! The true Original Calendar or Almenach was originated by The Holy One of Israel, whose name is JAH; IN THE BEGINNING of time. It began at the beginning of Creation on the FIRST DAY……”…and the evening and the morning were the first day.” That first day, marked the First Day of the first 7 day week, the First Day of the first month, the First Day of the first year and so on….We are truly in the year 6210 from the beginning. That’s six thousand, two hundred and ten years from the beginning…….NOT 6 million/billion or so years! There is much more to be said on this subject, but this will suffice for now.
Boo Boo likes it! Good stuff.
Very interesting and informative. Succintly written, easy to go through and thought provoking.
Salams and best wishes for 2011.
wov… thats interesting and never thought of it earlier!!!
that god’s name is so close 2 my name
Yea that figure is not two headed but actually two faced which means somebody published a n error knowingly or unaware-whether it was named after Greek or Roman gods is questionable because both of these nations are ultimatly babies compared to world history and the creation of the calender.
thanks 4 ds
@ JahfroJahvid / Shalom
Then how do you explain that December is the 11th month of the year in the ancient calendar, while the prefix dec- stands for tens? (Sorry if I got my facts wrong, basing purely off the info mentioned in this thread here.)
i love words
Informative as always! I <3 Hot Word!
my name is thomas
very interesting and it is very help to a person whose native language is Chinese to learn those facts.
How could I possibly leave a comment following the one immediately preceding???
I blogged about Janus on January 1 and included my photo of what is now known as the ‘Arch of Janus’ in Rome (however the attribution appears to have changed from the later day “Arch of Constantine” to the more timeless ‘Janus’ sometime during the Renaissance). It is a “quadrifrons triumphal arch”- something that I had to look up at dictionary.com! (Thank you) Read more here: http://wp.me/pvdQG-di
He is the same in Greek mythology. A two-faced minor god whose domain resides in choices, past and future, changes, doors, and options.
This is one of my favorite things to study. I love the random topics that are chosen for the hot word of the day.
This’ll be the perfect report for school!! I’m impressed!! @ JahfroJahvid / Shalom, you are totally correct! My teacher will love the report ( I know because she LOVES this website). Another reason is because I’m her favorite student (I’m serious)!! My birthday is this month too! I’ll be 20 years old!! Its on the 9th (my birthday is)!! There’s soooo much to do, I’d better get busy!! Just kidding!! I LOVE YOU http://www.dictionary.com!!! Later, everyone!!
@Richard Hn (January 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm)
You thought correctly that decem means ten. One should pronounce it as “dekem” when using the classical method of pronunciation, of which the rules are simpler than the ecclesiastical method. By the latter method, one would say “dechem”, with ch as in cherry, given that c precedes e.
I suspect that the trick to understanding the Romans’ calendar is that they had two concepts of year. There is one that is secular, for business, legal, and other worldly affairs, and another for religious purposes. (Pls bear in mind again that I am speculating.) At any rate, in the 12th month, “Februarius”, there is a holiday called “febrorum”, “the Roman festival of purification and expiation, celebrated on February 15th”. The noun, “februum”, means “purgation, purification”.
“Janus also represented transition”, as it reads at http://www.dictionary.com, and his month is for looking forward and looking back, for reflecting upon what was right and what was not. Then, in the middle of the next month, one uses the results of this reflection to motivate purgation of bad ideas and habits.
Then comes March, another new year and a time for new beginning. From March 19th through the 23rd is the “Quinquatrus” (aka “Quinquatria”), a festival celebrated in honor of Minerva, “goddess of wisdom and of the arts and sciences, identified with Pallas Athene”.
Figuratively “minerva” indicates “skill, genius” as well as “spinning and weaving”. I suppose the idea is to begin in March to make use of the fruits of the past two months’ reflection and purification and to get to work on new projects that came to mind as a result of the exercises during those months.
Source: The New College Latin & English Dictionary, c. 1966, 17th printing-1981, by John C. Trauptman, Ph. D.
Happy new year.
Gratias to http://www.dictionary.com for “the hot word”.
My birthday is in January and so is my dad’s. Thank you for sharing such awesome information Mr. Dictionary. You will always be my friend. LOL
It’s very good information
This is a very useful and new info. to me. Any idea about the other months?
Wouldn’t Janus be greek? I know that he’s in both Romand and Greek mythology, but didn’t the greeks come first?
Anyways, good article. I liked it. AND HEY, I KNEW THAT!!!! Haha, sorry.
And I’m also glad that there aren’t really any comments on religion, it annoys me when people post about God on here yelling about how terrible these articals are. I’m a Christian too, but I see no issue with learning about the origins of words, even if they do come from the names of other gods. Just because it’s named after a god, doesn’t mean that we’re worshiping said god by learning about it, guys. Chill.
Is appropos misspelled? “apropos” right?
I’ve always pronounced it Jan-yoo-er-ee, but I always hear people pronounce it as Jan-yoo-air-ee (emphasis on the air). Is that just a southern thing? What’s the consensus?
Janus is actually a greek god……
I thought Janus was two-faced not two-headed? As in, he had one head and two faces. Anyone else think this as well?
wowww i wonder how did the other months got their names
Its Janus/Ixion Right????? I did a report on him! A “New Door” Correctomundo?
In the Bible, April is the first month. To bad that’s where they put April Fools Day…
nice, this one is really good. actually every one does it, looking back of the past and think of the mistakes and successes and things what we may learn from it to be ready for the future and what will it offer. my 2010 is not a really good year, the worst of all the years i had in my 24 years of existence and i am really looking forward for 2011 to be something better, not good, but at least better…we may all have a good outlook and enjoy life….
I am from the midwest, and put the emphasis on the “air”.
i wud just like to say that this article is very interesting and that u adults shouldnt use punctuation and capitals… thats just weird =P just a suggestion =D
I knew this answer and I am 12! Well, i do take latin and have a very large interest in Greek and Roman Mythology. I didn’t even read this article and I know this God is Roman Janus, God of door ways, entrances, etc. Also beginnings with is why January comes from it because it is the beginning of a new year!
The Roman’s origin calendar had Only 10 months so March was considered the first month, but during the reign of Numa Pompilio January and February were add, so January became to be the first month instead.
This article was a great distraction from homework.I wish they made more schools for those with short attention spans.Intersting article,and I agree with you Maia. princessperfect it’s not weird to use punctuation and capitals,it’s a sign of lower education and poor comunacation skills to not use proper gramer.
i thought january and june were named after julius ceaser
Janus is Roman, not Greek, and the word “janitor” does derive from the god Janus. This was also a Final Jeopardy question that only one person got right, and subsequently went from last to first place.
However, January was NOT the first month in the Roman calendar: March was the first month. This is why to us all the last months’ names seem incorrect: in Roman times September was not the 9th month, it was the seventh; December was not the 10th month, it was the twelfth, etc. July and August, our 7th and 8th months, were originally called Quintilis and Sextilis (5th and 6th months) until Julius Caesar and Augustus named them after themselves (and each took a day from the last month of the year [February] so their months would be among the largest).
Write now, in 6th grade I am studying Greek Mythology and I guessed it was Janus since its the only Greek God I learned about witch has two heads. Glad to know I am right.
Write now, in 6th grade I am studying Greek Mythology and I guessed it was Janus since its the only Greek God I learned about witch has two heads. Glad to know I am right. I love studying knew things.
my birthday is on the 9th of this month, too Sandy LOVES Mike!!!
[...] more prepared, this year. In fact, January is named for the Roman god Janus, who is usually depicted having two heads that face in opposite directions. One looks back to the year departed, and one looks forward to the [...]
@clover: Julius Augustus added two months to the year, July and August. October was originally the eighth month (hence the “octo”, meaning eight) and December was the tenth month; then it was “booted” forward to the twelfth and October to the tenth. Julius must have been quite self-centered to add two months and then name them after himself! LOL
My 5th grade teacher taught us this. Janus sounds more Greek than Roman.
My name is Thomas and i feel left out
The fact that you cannot differentiate between a face and a head almost invalidates any information you wish to disseminate. Janus is 2 faced NOT 2 headed. As stated on January 1st in post on Janus the psychologist Carl Jung considered the god to be an perfect symbol of the human psyche.
@Dragon and @Maia:
Janus, in fact, has no Greek counterpart, which is quite rare.
I pronounce it the way you do, and my dictionary agrees.
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
After google imagesearching, i have come to the conclusion that “two headed” could be considered accurate. Most people probably assume that also mean Two-necked, but no.
Alot of statues and commemorative coins show him with a conjoined back of the skull, giving him two different tops to two distincly head-shaped formations
So while he may be HISTORICALLY known for being two-faced. Dictionary.com is correct for saying he is DEPICTED as two-headed.
Burn on all you doubters.
janus is an investment firm, too. they look at market trends – old and new – to pick the best investments for their clients.
would it be okay if i named my future daughter janus, a variant of janice? even though janus was a god and not a goddess?
i just read that from percy jackson and the olympians!! heheheh funny~
nice research work on the etymology
If January is a month of reflection according to this article, what about December? Afterall, some people look at the passing year and reflect on what was good or bad. They also plan for the coming year. What have you got to say about that?
Oh come, Tyr is not obscure. At least not to anyone who’s reasonably well read.
I should point out, as a Follower of the Greek Gods, that Janus represented Choices in the life of Humanity.
He was symbolized by Two Doors, and did not reflect the transition of Child and Adult. This is a fact that I utterly see as false.
And yes, Janus was GREEK not Roman.
Super information indeed. Friend on mine has been searching for this content
[...] we end January, learn the name of the unusual Roman god who is the month’s namesake, and the meaning behind his two faces, [...]
I ‘m need 5 facts about janus soooo……. this wAS VERRY HELPFUL! THANKYOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
Janus is really king of doors and gates
The letter J does not appear in the Hebrew language JahfroJahvid. For J please substitute Y. So the name of the father is Yah
@ Roy Mustang: Myth is from that what existed b4. See the difinition of myth: 1.”a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event…” Dictionary.com
@Richard Comish: What about the French doors! that works both ways! do they not!!!
Thanks as always
I thought dece = deci?!
yeah, so i thought that janus had two FACES, not two heads… and that’s what the pictures shows, too. so, its two faces, not heads.
Jan is tooooo long i feel for that deep reflection really now….Hate the mnth of jan
[...] Which two-headed god is January named after, and what does the …Jan 2, 2011 … So, in this way, we’re all a little bit like Janus, the Roman god for which January is named. Janus is usually depicted with having two heads. that … [...]
I am actually doing something right now and I need to know why Janus is so unusual!
Janus is TWO-FACED not TWO-HEADED!
Thank you,thank you needed the information
and a happy new year
He’s TWO-FACED not TWO-HEADED
@ Kevin Faulkner:
The fact that someone did not differentiate between a face and a head is not a reliable indicator of their capability to do so. For some of us, the argument over whether Janus was two-headed or two-faced is quite silly, given that he is entirely a mythological entity. (Sorry to the remnant Janusite community.)
Even IF it had been an error to describe Janus as two-headed, the assertion that any information “disseminated” by someone becomes invalidated by the commission of such an error is absurdly pompous. Actually, the fact that you cannot differentiate between a single specific statement (the wrongly alleged error) and any others (the rest of Hot Word’s disseminated information) rather severely invalidates any criticism you have made.
This is especially true because your own post contains multiple errors that are more fundamental. The fact that your sentence beginning “As stated on January 1st…” lacks an instance of the definite article (“in post on Janus”), includes a misuse of the indefinite article (“to be an perfect”), and disregards the need for punctuation (commas) shows that you could have paid more attention during your early schooling.
Please bear in mind that to contribute information in a shared space is to exercise a privilege that is often made complex by intersecting grammatical and factual requirements. Your contribution—for seemingly a well-educated person—is in this case disappointing!
You know, in Greek Mythology, Janus is actually a two-headed god of Doorways. They try to cause confusion. One leads to the beholder’s destiny, while the other leads to certain death. I think this is where we get High Road/Low Road. You know, two choices with different outcomes? Most people are (in myths) rumored to run into Janus in the Labyrinth, because the maze was designed to bring up your darkest fears that you threw into the deepest corners of your mind and bring them to life in front of you. Why do you think Daedalus went crazy?
I really like this fact and it’s really interesting. Greek mythology has many secrets and many are yet to be revealed.
I actually new this and I’m 10! But I do read a lot of books. I read one about roman/Greek mythology, and it mentioned Janus as the god of doors, but it was like two years ago. I’m surprised that I remembered it!
I knew this one from Sherlock. In Series 1 Episode 3 “The Great Game” there is a car rental company called Janus Cars but it isn’t all that it seems.
I did not know that until now interesting. Very Interesting.(V.I)
it was really interesting to know about
the story behind the month , january…. which is actually two headed side, representing door.
I knew this already! Only Janus is two-faced, not two-headed. You learn a lot from Percy Jackson and the Olympians, my favorite series ever!
a little dumb but ok
i didn’t suprise on origin janus if you go back and review founder of cristiany like paul to now
Janus doesn’t have ‘two heads’ he has two faces on the same head, on looking forward and one facing back.
REALLY NICEE FACTS!
btw (by the way) my BIRTHDAY IS ON JAN 01 2001.
A WONDERFUL PATTERN!
@ a lot of people’s comments, I see that you say that Janus is a Greek god. True, but he’s Roman because the Romans used the same gods and goddesses as the Greeks, but they just put Roman names in the Greek names’ place.
COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I never knew that
Janus is actually my given name. i’ve known this scoop about january & janus since i was a kid. i appreciate such a succinct and well articulated explanation. it is cool info and it is an interesting given name to bear (especially as a woman)
p.s. i think the more accurate description is that janus was two-faced. either way, i enjoyed the blog.
very interesting we learn something new every day
Loved It!! I Knew I was born January for a Reason; this is Exactly what I do on birthday Every Year Look & Look forward with Excitment!! Wow Thanks for the info…Good Read & must Share!! BB
are there any god of dogs or cats or something like that??
janus is greek this doof just got mixed up
just saying, this things clock is wrong, it is 3:15 where i am
Very Interesting, but I do think Janus is a Greek god or they just share the same name. I remember that he appeared once of twice in the Percy Jackson series.
very interesting way to learn about history
Janus is Roman. He appeared in Percy Jackson in the Battle of the Labriynth. He is said to appear before a person when he or she has to make a decision between 2 or more (but usually 2) options. When this happens, his two heads are supposed to be arguing with each other to confuse the person. He is usually portrayed as annoying and irritating but some accounts state him as horrible and terrifying. Janus is a minor god but also said to be the god of decisions and ways.
this is interesting! thanks!
Now! I know that January originally from the word Janus,,,,,,,,,i really love to read it again……
Janus the two headed person………..Does it exist today????????maybe but January is the first month of the year………
Does anyone else think of Janus cars from Sherlock?
Maybe it’s just me…
I also find this fascinating due to my interest in mythology.
he is a greeak
it is impossible that God wouldn’t be touched in this issue. ever since the world begun, God is there.
hey isnt another month named after Juno (hera if you perfer) it is june isnt it if it isnt correct me than thnx
COOL IM IN JANUARY :0
“Appropos” is misspelled. The correct spelling is “apropos.”
Way to drop the ball guys.
+1 to shayne
I knew this from the percy jackson series
i know this too
The Battle of the Labyrinth (book 4 in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series) has the god Janus in it. I did some research and it turns out Janus is a Roman god, not Greek. The Greek version of Janus is Ianus.
Quote from Janus in Percy Jackson: “I’m your best friend, I’m your worst enemy, I’m Janus, God of Doorways. Beginnings. Endings. Choices. “
Technically, Janus is the first Roman god mentioned in the Percy Jackson series.
I knew it! Thank you Rick Riordan for writing the Battle of the Labryinth!
JANUS FACED: INDIVIDULAL NOT TO BE TRUSTED