Originally, the Roman calendar designated March 1 as the New Year. The Roman Calendar only had ten months with March as the first month.
- March: named after Mars, the god of war
- April: from aperire, Latin for “to open” (buds)
- May: named after Maia, the goddess of growth of plants
- June: from junius, Latin for the goddess Juno
- July: named after Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.
- August: named after Augustus Caesar in 8 B.C.
- September: from septem, Latin for “seven”
- October: from octo, Latin for “eight”
- November: from novem, Latin for “nine”
- December: from decem, Latin for “ten”
- January: named after Janus, the god of doors and gates
- February: named after Februalia, a time period when sacrifices were made to atone for sins
Julian Calendar: January 1st Officially Instituted as the New YearIn 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a solar-based calendar that improved the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar- based which had become extremely inaccurate over the years. Julius Caesar’s calendar known as the Julian calendar decreed that the New Year would occurred on January 1st for the entire Roman world.
For the Romans, the month of January carried a special significance. Its name was derived from the two-faced deity Janus, the god of change and beginnings. Janus was seen to be looking back at the old and ahead to the new, and this idea became tied to the concept of transition from one year to the next.
Romans would celebrate January 1 by giving offerings to Janus in the hope of gaining good fortune for the new year. This day was seen as setting the stage for the next twelve months. According to Ovid, most Romans also chose to work for at least part of New Year’s Day, as idleness was seen as a bad omen for the rest of the year.
So start your year the right way with retrospection and introspection! Be safe and have fun!