"They say that the year is old and gray,
That his eyes are dim with sorrow;
But what care we, though he pass away?
For the New Year comes tomorrow.
No sighs have we for the roses fled,
No tears for the vanished summer;
Fresh flowers will spring where the old are dead,
To welcome the glad newcomer.
Then sing, young hearts that are full of cheer,
With never a thought of sorrow;
The old goes out, but the glad young year
Comes merrily in tomorrow." ... Emily H. Miller
The Romans called this month "Januarius," after the god, Janus. Janus had two faces, one on each side of his head. The face in back looked backward to the past; the face in front looked forward to the year yet-to-be.
Originally, the Roman Year began with March and had 10 months. Numa Pompilius added January and February to the calendar year. And by 251 B.C., January had been accepted as the first month of the year.
Most of Europe did not accept the calendar-change. People here continued to call this month "wulfmonath," or Wolf Month. The full moon in January is called the Wolf Moon. March 25th marked the beginning of the ancient Jewish year. Both Jews and Christians observed March 25th, the beginning of the New year, as a legal holiday.
January is notable for its variety of special days, enough to put one in a daze!
NEW YEAR'S DAY -- January 1st. Another year! A new day! We resolve to be a new and better person! We have a second chance, by God's grace, to change for the good. Time to turn over a "new leaf," to write only positive and productive things on each page of the new year.
TWELFTH NIGHT EVE -- January 5th. The Twelve Days of Christmas are over. Hopefully, the "Christmas Spirit" will continue to be present in us!
EPIPHANY -- January 6th. The Season of the Christian Year that runs from January 6 until Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Epiphany celebrates the opening of God's Kingdom to the Gentiles (anyone who is not Jewish).
ST. DISTAFF'S DAY -- January 7th. Sorry to say, there is no "Saint Distaff." A "distaff" is a staff or pole used in spinning. January 7 was jokingly called St. Distaff's Day because now that the Twelve Days of Christmas were passed, the women must go back to work, go back to their spinning, back to their "distaffs."
PLOW MONDAY -- First Monday in Epiphany; marks the end of the Christmas holidays, time for all to get back to work, to the plowing.
ST. HILARY'S DAY -- January 14th. Traditionally this is the coldest day of the year.
ST. PAUL'S DAY -- January 25th. Celebrates the conversion of Paul, the great Christian leader and missionary.
JANUARY is a time to celebrate the variety of days, a time to appreciate both the serious and the not-so-serious in life. January offers us the opportunity, by God's grace and power, to live life fully as God meant it to be lived! Fill the days with life; don't go around in a daze!
Don Kuehle is a retired United Methodist minister who lives in Jackson. Opinions are those of the author.Religion on 01/04/2018
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