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How January Got Its Name

Ruler of new beginnings, and gates and doors, the Roman god Janus gave January its name. He was pictured with two faces, one looking into the past, and the other into the future. Janus presided over the temple of peace, where the doors were opened only during wartime. It was a place of safety, where new beginnings and new resolutions could be forged.

See more about the origin of month names.

See seasonal advice for January.

January 6 — Epiphany

The Feast of the Epiphany, or Twelfth Day, marks the end of Yule festivities. The word is not specific to Christianity, however, as Zeus’s alias, “Epiphanes,” can attest. It comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation" or "appearance."

In the church, Epiphany commemorates the manifestation of Jesus’ divine nature to the Magi, the three wise men or kings. In many countries, Three Kings Day is a time of gift giving. Traditional fare is a spice King Cake with a lucky bean baked in it.

Tradition advises the removal of Christmas greens by Epiphany to avoid bad luck.

See suggestions on what to do with your tree.

Love Calendar Lore?

Find calendar lore, weather forecasts, astronomical predictions, gardening tables, and more in the pages of The 2009 Old Farmer’s Almanac. Order your 2009 Almanac now!

Click here for a free preview!



Janus am I;
oldest of potentates!
Forward I look and backward.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–82)


A Special Offer from The Old Farmer’s Almanac


The World’s Worst Weather?

Visit the Mt. Washington Weather Observatory, site of the reputed worst weather in the world. Click here to see video, courtesy of


Great Almanac Giveaway! 

Check out this month’s prize from:


January 6, 1878
Carol Sandburg born (poet)

January 6, 1942
First around-the-world commercial flight completed by Pan American Airways

January 7, 1989

Japanese emperor Hirohito died after the longest reign of any Japanese monarch (62 years)

For more significant events in history,  sign up for our “Today in History” RSS feed.

You may also be interested in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Radio Report.


Think “Blizzard” and heavy snowfall comes to mind. Officially, however, the deadly winter storm is defined by these factors:

§                 wind gusts over 35 mph

§                 visibility of less than a quarter-mile (though if you’ve ever been caught in a blizzard, you’ll probably swear it’s closer to a few inches);

§                 duration of at least 3 hours

§                 temperature below 20°F (–7°C)

Learn more about predicting blizzards.

See a list of winter weather terms.  Whether it’s "snow flurries" or "snow showers" in the forecast, know your snow!


Keep these time-tested weather proverbs in mind this month:

Always expect a thaw in January.

Fog in January brings a wet spring.

He who drops a coat on a winter day,
Will gladly put it on in May.

Wondering what the weather will be? Visit the Almanac Weather Center  for your short- and long-range weather forecasts.


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