The Invention Of January

Happy January, the traditional first month of the year! January is named for Janus, the Roman god of the doorway or the gatekeeper, which is appropriate as January is the doorway of the year.

But how did January get to be the first month of the year?

January 1 became the first day of the New Year in 45 B.C.E. when Julius Caesar reorganized the current calendar, making it solar rather than lunar.

Until that point, March 25 — the spring equinox — was generally considered the logical start of the New Year.

Caesar’s Julian Calendar was the predominant calendar in the Roman world, most of Europe, and in European settlements in the Americas and elsewhere, until it was replaced by the Gregorian calendar, disseminated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

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