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What’s in a word – January

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What’s in a word – January

We have entered the new year and we are currently in the month of January. It is the first month of the year, as per the Gregorian calendar.

The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. Before this, the Julian calendar was used (in the western world).

The Gregorian calendar itself is a slightly changed version of the Julian calendar (invented by the ancient Romans). So, the names of our months come from the Roman gods, leaders, festivals, and numbers.

‘January’, the word comes from the Latin word Ianuarius (mensis) meaning “(the month) of Janus”.

Who is Janus?

Janus is the Roman god of gates and doorways as well as endings and beginnings. He is usually shown as having two faces which are looking at opposite ways – one towards the past and the other towards the future.


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English is one of the most commonly used languages today. However, many words in the English language come from different languages, especially, Greek and Latin. They usually have some interesting history behind them and it is fun to find out about them. So, in this “What’s in a word” series, come along with us at Curious Times as we try to find out the origin of common English words. Prepare to be awed, impressed or even shocked sometimes.

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