As of 01 January Anno Societatus LII, being 2018 by the Gregorian reckoning.

anuary is the first month of the Gregorian calendar, having 31 days, except in leap years, when nit has 31 days.  Likely named for the Roman god Janus, you know, the two-faced one?  The ngod of beginnings and transitions?  Thus modern January is uniquely positioned to review the npreceding year, as well as looking ahead to the new.

January and February were added to the ancient Roman calendar in 713 BC by King Numa Pompilius. Prior to that, the first month on the calendar had been March.  European countries under Christian rule placed the beginning of the New Year on the Feast of Annunciation, March 25th, and did not begin observing the New Year on January 1st until the Papal Chancery adopted the practice in 1622.

In the Middle Ages, January was a time when peasant farmers repaired fences and made tools and implements to aid them in farming, as well as generally hoping for rain. By most accounts everybody hung around indoors as much as possible, munching on stored meats and grains, and caring for livestock.  In some areas onions, shallots and garlic had been sown in the fall, and some care was given to those crops to keep them free of weeds and vermin.

In contrast, January for the nobility was mostly taken up by feasting.  Every time you turn around, another feast.  By February, you'd be relieved that the feasting fell off a little, because you'd mostly be sick of the eating and frivolity all the time.  Music and dancing and stuffing your face, why, it was nearly enough to make aristocrats wish for a little honest toil to break up the monotony.

Hah!  Psych... No true noble ever sought a life beset by effort and perspiration, that's only in the movies.  That's why most medievalists take up the persona of high-born nobs, and avoid the clothing and manners of peasants and serfs. except when they are falling-down drunk.  

In Medieval times, most of Christendom observed Twelfth Night as the last of the twelve days of Christmas, falling on either 05 or 06 January, depending on whether one counted December 25 as the first day of Christmas, or if one felt that the count properly began on the next day, December 26.  This is just the sort of quibbling that leads to schisms and such-like. 

A belief has arisen in many English-speaking countries that it is unlucky to leave Christmas decorations up after Twelfth Night, a feeling echoed by many neighborhood associations and other neo-fascist organizations.

The Old Norse/Icelandic calendar month of Mörsugr began on Wednesday, 20 December, while Þorri, or "snow month" will begin on Friday, 19 January.  Þorri (thor-ri) is the name of the personification of frost or winter in Norse mythology, likely derived from Þor (thor), the Norse god of thunder.

The moon will be full on Monday, 01 January, and again on Tuesday, 30 January.  These will both be considered supermoons, as the moon is at perigee (closest to Earth), and appears as much as 15% larger than usual.  The full moon on the 30th is called, by tradition, a blue moon, as well as being super.

The new moon, called a micro-moon, will occur on 16 January 2018, thus beginning, at sunset, the Jewish month of Sh'vat in the Jewish year 5778.  The Islamic, or Hijri calendar month of Jumada Al-Awwal begins on or about 19 January, in the Islamic year of 1439.

Events of note in January, historically, include:

1) The birth, 06 January 1367, of Richard of Bordeaux, a son of Edward, The Black Prince.  Born 4th in line to the throne of England, the three men who stood in his way perished one after the other.  His brother expired when he was three, his father when he was nine, and old grand-dad obligingly croaked when he was but ten years of age, leaving him to be Richard II of England.  in addition to the throne, he inherited a war with France, border troubles with Scotland, and a nation being ravaged by the Black Death. 

It didn't help matters that he might've had borderline personality disorder, but he made a good show of things during the Peasant's Revolt (1381), and wrestled government control away from a group of aristocrats known as the Lords Appellant (1387-9), who had challenged his authority.  Ten years later, he served cold revenge, having some of them exiled, and others executed.

Not until 1399 had he pissed off enough of the right people to make a difference, and an army led by Henry of Bolingbroke met little resistance.  Richard was deposed, imprisoned, and died (allegedly of starvation) before his 34th year.

2) The death of Ali ibn Abi Talib on 27 January 661.  One of several sons-in-law to Muhammad, he was considered by the Shia sect of Islam to be the First Imam, next in line for the top job upon the passing of  the prophet.  The Sunni sect, on the other hand, had different ideas, and ranked him no higher than fourth. In hindsight, a playoff between the two back then would have saved no end of sectarian turmoil since, but these are people who apparently like their turmoil, so Shia and Sunni have been killing each other ever since.

3) Ethelred of Wessex had a bad time in January of 871, during what amounted to a division playoff against the invadingVikings.  On 04 January he took a loss at Reading, rallying 4 days later to win at Ashdown, but losing the next two matches, on the 22nd at Basing and Meretun on 22 March.  The next season Wessex was coached by Ethelred's younger brother, Alfred the Great.

This apparently really happened: In 1583, the nation of Holland skipped 10 days, going from January 01 to January 11 in the twinkling of an eye to keep up with the rest of Europe, who were all joining the latest craze, that is, the Gregorian calendar.  Trade unionists rioted in the streets, demanding to be paid for the lost days.  Landlords wanted to be paid in full, while their tenants didn't know enough math to figure out the reduced amount they owed.  The eventual winner?  The attorneys of Amsterdam are a safe bet.

Now ya know: On 01 January 1502, Portuguese explorer Gaspar de Lemos discovered an enormous waterway on the Atlantic coast of Brazil that he named Rio de Janeiro, or "River of January". It is worth noting that the river had been discovered by generations of native folk prior to this, but the name stuck.

Here and now: January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month, in America.  Since 2014, the UK has observed Dry January, during which a few people try to do without alcoholic beverages for some good reason. 10 January is World Laughter Day.  25 January is Saint Dwynwen's Day, the Welsh equivalent of Valentine's Day. 

Corrections: last month, this column incorrectly stated that December was National Poisoning Month in America.  The notice should have read "National Poison Prevention Month".  We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by this error.

Are there medieval events for February that you'd like to see on this page?  Contact the Chronicler through the officer's page, below, or e-mail to