Why does the New Year begin in January?

By Herbert Vego

WHY has January become the first month of the year?

I wondered about it until I learned why September and October are “illogically” placed on the 9th and 10th places of the calendar, respectively.

Since septem is the Latin word for seven and octo for eight, shouldn’t September represent the seventh month, instead of ninth; and October the eighth, instead of tenth? Let’s research.

History records the first scientific calendar as the Egyptian calendar, where each year comprised 12 months, and each month had exactly 30 days. The months were further divided into three weeks, with each week lasting 10 days.

Then came the Babylonian calendar with 12 lunar months, each beginning with the appearance of a new crescent moon.

The first Roman calendar — conceptualized by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the eighth century B.C. — had 10 months in a year, with each month lasting 30 or 31 days. March was the first month of the year. Therefore, September and October fell on their right etymological places – 7th and 8th, respectively.

In 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar, after consulting with astronomers and mathematicians of his time, introduced the 12-month Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that the world uses today. Thus, the original seventh and eighth months slid to ninth and tenth.

Caesar named the first month January in honor of Janus, the Roman god with two faces that enabled him to look back into the past and forward into the future; and the second month, February, as the season to celebrate the ancient Roman festival of purification called Februa.

The Romans celebrated the New Year by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches and attending raucous parties.

The practice of making resolutions for the New Year started among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot.

In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily experimented with other dates to begin the year with. During the Middle Ages, European countries replaced them with days that carried greater significance, such as December 25 (the traditional anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation).

Pope Gregory XIII re-established January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582. By then, the Julian calendar implemented by Julius Caesar had fallen out of sync with the seasons. This concerned Gregory because it meant that Easter, traditionally observed within March, fell further away from the spring equinox – that day in March when the day and the night are of equal length across the celestial equator.

Some European countries did not immediately adopt the Gregorian calendar because of the anti-Pope Protestant Reformation that was taking place at that time.  Today, it is the calendar of the world.

Even China officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1911. The native Chinese, however, do not celebrate New Year on January 1. The first day of the Chinese New Year synchronizes with the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20.

The Chinese New Year in 2023 (Year of the Rabbit) will fall on January 22.

Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.  The rabbit representing the year symbolizes mercy, elegance and beauty. People in the Year of the Rabbit in China are expected to grow calm and peaceful.

Most of us Filipinos do not celebrate Chinese New Year. But due to the growing clusters of Chinese residents and traders, it is no longer unusual for us to participate in parades and dragon dances in Chinatowns and commercial centers.



The Customer Services Office (CSO) of MORE Power at Hotel del Rio, Iloilo City, will be closed starting today (30 December 2022) until Monday (02 January 2023).

The CSO operations will resume on Tuesday.

However, the company’s “helpline associates” will still be reachable through the MORE Power Iloilo Facebook page, and though the following 24/7 hotline numbers: Landline: 330-6673; Smart: 0919-072-0626; Globe: 0917-637-5214; or online via bank partners BDO, LANDBANK, METROBANK, PNB, ROBINSONS, SECURITY BANK, UNIONBANK, QUEENBANK; and non-bank partners GCash and Dragonpay.