Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where does the word "January" come from?

Soon the year 2013 will be ending and 2014 will be beginning.  Of course, the first month of the year is called January - and there's a good reason for that.

The word January comes from the name of the Roman god Janus.  Janus could see behind and in front of himself at the same time.  He was the god of doorways and new beginnings.  When the Romans developed the type of calendar that we, basically, still use today, they decided to call their first month "January" because it is the month in which you look back on the previous year and look forward to the next year.

Here's an article about the god Janus that I found online:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to undertake something - to begin something

frankincense - this is a type of liquid that smells very nice

the prow of a ship - the front portion of a ship

a chariot - 

to set forth - to go forward

gilded - covered with gold

to allay - to come to a rest (this is a very old poem, so basically the poet is saying here: when the golden chariot stopped, Apollo headed east....)

reckless - not careful

plunged - in this case it means the horses ran wildly forward, out of control.  To plunge usually means to fall.

bore - bear, bore, born - carried, took

scorched - burned

enraged - very angry

daring - brave; if someone is daring, he is a risk taker

a thunderbolt -

headlong - with his head going down first

to be fond of - to like

quoits -

distressed - upset

he took no heed of her - he did not notice her

to be mortal - basically everyone is mortal, we are all going to die

immortal - non-dying

shrill - a loud, high-pitched sound

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