January, the first month of the year, is a time for reflecting on the past and planning for the future. As January begins, we look back over the past year and the good and bad things that happened to us. As we prepare to leave the past behind and begin the first month of the year with new hopes and enthusiasm, we often make plans for the new year. Setting goals is a good way to keep oneself motivated throughout the year. The most common new year resolutions for children are reading more books, limiting video games, playing more outdoor games, keeping the room and table organised, being more kind, getting adequate sleep, watching less TV, eating less junk food and so on.
Did you know that the month of January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings? Janus is often depicted with two, bearded heads that face in opposite directions. This meant that he could see forward to the future and backward to the past, and inside and outside simultaneously without turning around. Janus was a king of Latium (a region of central Italy), who had his palace on the Janiculum hill, on the western bank of the River Tiber. Many Roman gods were derived from Greek mythology but there is no equivalent of Janus in Greek mythology. Greek myth does contain a character similar to Janus: Orthus, a two-faced dog. Similar to Janus, Orthus has one face looking to the past and one to the future. However, he didn’t have the same significance in ancient Greece as Janus did in ancient Rome.
Janus presided over passages, doors, gates and endings, as well as in transitional periods such as from war to peace. According to Roman mythology, Janus was present at the beginning of the world and presided over the creation of religion, life, and even the gods. As the god of gates, Janus guarded the gates of heaven and held access to heaven and other gods. For this reason, Janus was often invoked first in ancient Roman religious ceremonies, and during public sacrifices, offerings were given to Janus before any other deity. The word janitor is also closely related to Janus. It originally referred to a door attendant or porter before evolving to its more current meaning of custodian or caretaker of a building.
Janus was known as the initiator of human life, transformations between stages of life, and shifts from one historical era to another. Ancient Romans believed Janus ruled over life events such as weddings, births, and deaths. He oversaw seasonal events such as planting, harvests, seasonal changes, and the new year. So, what’s your new year resolution this Janus-ary?