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Did you ever wonder why you can make New Year's resolutions on January 1st - only to break them on January 4th?

Thank Janus, the two-faced Roman God of Doors, Gateways and beginnings from whom the month of January gets its name. When one door opens, another closes; with new beginnings, there is always an end. As we celebrate the New Year, we mourn the death of the old year and say goodbye, with a toast and not a few sad sentiments for the year that was. No wonder we get confused and break our resolutions. With the two-faced Janus holding court, January is no time for resolutions.

Janus was one of a pantheon of Roman Gods but he held a special place in the daily life of the Romans.

WinterJanus was the God of Beginnings, which also ensured good endings; for this reason he is always depicted with two faces gazing in opposite directions. And don't we all do that when we are starting something new? We look forward with anticipation towards the future yet at the same time we look backwards to the past which has led us so far and at last brought us to this new beginning. Just think of the last few weeks as we awaited the close of the old year

Old God Janus's principal temple in the Roman Forum had two doorways; one facing East and the other facing West for the beginmning and the end of the day; and between them stood Janus with his two faces gazing in opposite directions as though to say "Give full face to the future but do not forget your past!" An old Roamn version of the more modern saying "Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it!" In every home in Roman days, the morning prayer was addressed to him, and in every domestic undertaking his assistance was sought.

As the god of beginnings, Janus was publicly invoked on the first day of January, the month that was named for him because it began the new year. He was also invoked at the beginning of wars, during which the doors to his temple in the forum always stood open; when Rome was at peace the doors were closed. There was no counterpart to Janus in Greek Mythology....and we would have to look hard to find one in today's world.
by Adrien Blanchette



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All contents © 1995 - 2017 Highway7.com unless otherwise attributed
Highway7 E-zine, a publication of Hatch Media, is an electronic journal with a focus on commercial, historical, cultural and ecological issues concerning the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia in Canada. Topics include a growing resource of currently more than 300 articles. More articles and image galleries are added frequently as new material is brought to our attention. With Highway7.com, our primary aim is to serve, inform and reflect the rural communities on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, as well as to acquaint new residents, visitors, tourists, and investors with the special beauty and enormous potential of our region.
Last Change: 01-Feb-2017