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Facts about January

New Years' Day and snow activities are commonly associated with the month of January.
New Years' Day and snow activities are commonly associated with the month of January.
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

January is the first month of the year. January has 31 days, its birthstone is the red garnet and in North America it is known to be one of the coldest and snowiest winter months. Thus, January is a prime month for winter sports like ice skating, sledding, skiing and snowboarding—as well as doing more “general” snow activities like building snowmen and making snow angels!

Chinese Lunar New Year is often celebrated in January.
Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

The Latin word for “January” is “Ianuarius” and this is interesting because the Latin word for “door” is “ianua.” Hence, “Ianuarius” brings to mind a vision of a door which makes January symbolic as the month that serves as the door to a New Year. Likewise, in Polish the word for January is “Stycznia” which means “joining” such as joining the old year to the new one.

January is well known for “New Year’s Day,” an international holiday that falls on January 1. This day is meant to be one of relaxation and welcoming in of the New Year. Hence, many stores and restaurants (especially small, family-owned ones) do not open on this day. January is also the time for “New Year’s Resolutions” where people attempt to set goals to better something about themselves in the New Year. Generally, New Year’s resolutions involve self-promises to lose weight!

During January in North America and much of Europe, the days are short and the night comes quicker. It can sometimes be dark before 5pm! Thus, it is a time of year when a lot of extra energy is used on artificial lighting and heating systems. January is also the only month when the North Pole is colder than the South Pole.

People who are born between January 1st and 20th fall under the zodiac sign of Capricorn (the Goat) while those born between January 21st to 30th are deemed Aquarius (the Water Bearer). Those who follow zodiac signs might find it interesting to note that both of these signs are ruled by Saturn.

January is also the month (along with February) that the Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year which is the biggest holiday in China.