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 apropos 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. His name comes from the Latin word ianua, which means “door.” Janus is the god of doors, gates, doorways, bridges, and passageways, all of which symbolize beginnings and ends. 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.