What’s Doors Got to Do With It?

January is a killer of a month. It’s one we all love to hate, especially now as although nearing the end, we still feel like we have years to go. It’s dark, cold and full of New Year’s Resolutions that we all struggle to keep. But have you ever wondered why January is called January? Well look no further!

January is named after the Roman god Janus. Now Janus isn’t the stereotypical god we associate with Roman deities. He isn’t master of the skies, wielding a powerful thunderbolt, or master of the seas with a mighty trident. Janus is in fact the god of, wait for it…(drumroll please) doors.

Yep, doors.

Janus is the Roman god of passageways, doors and gates. Now this isn’t as boring as it may seem. Ever heard the phrase ‘as one door closes, another opens?’ The opening and closing of doors symbolises the passage of time, a transitional phase from one period of life into another; and this is exactly what Janus represents. Janus is thus the god of duality, transitions and time. He symbolises both endings and beginnings, combining the possibilities of the future with the memories of the past. Janus was therefore worshipped at times of transition, like harvest, birth and death. As such he is represented in sculpture as having two faces, with one looking into the past and one into the future; he really takes the phrase ‘two faced’ to a whole new level!

Sculpture of Janus in the Vatican Museums; taken from Wikipedia

In this context, it makes sense that in today’s world, January is the month of change and new resolutions. That being said, it doesn’t make the month any better! Now if you feel like January is dragging on, and your resolutions are getting impossible, you can blame Janus.

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