Welcome to January! Start the new year by learning about this month’s important holidays, seasonal recipes, gardening tips, Moon dates, folklore, and more!
The new year opens—old is past,
Stern winter comes with its rough blast:
See the farmer shivering with cold,
Driving his flocks and herds to fold.
—The 1793 Old Farmer’s Almanac
January is named for the Roman god Janus, protector of gates and doorways. Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking into the past, the other into the future. Read more about the 12 months’ names.
Janus am I; oldest of potentates;
Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count, as god of avenues and gates,
The years that through my portals come and go.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet (1807–82)
January was originally the eleventh month, not the first, until at least 153 B.C.
- January 1 is New Year’s Day. While you’re still recuperating from last night’s parties, read about some other new year’s traditions you might not know about.
- January 1 is also Handsel Monday. According to Scottish custom, the first Monday of the new year was the time to give children and servants a small gift (“handsel”), intended to bring good luck.
- The eve of January 5 brings Twelfth Night, an English folk custom that marked the end of Christmas merrymaking, and in ancient Celtic tradition, the end of the 12-day winter solstice celebration. On Twelfth Night, it was customary for the assembled company to toast each other from the wassail bowl.
- On January 6 falls Epiphany. According to the New Testament’s Gospels, on this date the Magi—the three wise men or kings—venerated and brought gifts to the infant Jesus. Bake a King Cake with a lucky bean inside!
- January 15 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (observed) this year and honors the principles of this civil rights leader and Nobel Prize Winner dedicated to nonviolence.
- January 17 is Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. He was not only a world-renowned statesman, inventor, and scientist, but was also fascinated by agriculture. Here at the Old Farmer’s Almanac, we consider him the father of almanacs! How much do you know about Ben?
Potato and Kale Soup. Photo by Gaus Alex/Shutterstock.
Recipes for the Season
In the month of January, stay warm and cozy with soups, stews, and chowders!
Here are a few of our personal favorites:
- Kale, White Bean, and Sausage Soup
- Vermont Butternut Squash Soup
- Potato and Kale Soup
- Italian Vegetable Soup
- Bonnie’s Winter Stew
- English Brown Stew
- Seafood Chowder
- Down East Clam Chowder
For much of the country, January is the best time to start planning your garden for the upcoming season.
If you want to learn how to grow the best veggies this year, read our Vegetable Gardening for Beginners Guide.
Then, start dreaming and designing with the Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Planner! Our Garden Planner includes more than 250 fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs, with information on growing and planting each species. Plus, you’ll be able to see other gardeners’ plans to help you get inspired! Try it for free today!
- Relieve your dry skin with some homemade remedies.
- See our tips on how to stay warm this winter.
- Got snow? See our snowflake guide and find out if two snowflakes can be alike!
- Are you a cold-weather angler? Check out our ice fishing tips to make it a safe and enjoyable trip.
- Refresh your knowledge of winter weather terms to help keep you safe this winter.
January 2018 is a very special month, for it has two full Moons!
- The month’s first full Moon, the Full Wolf Moon, rises on January 1 at 9:24 P.M. EST. What a great way to start the year!
- The second full Moon, the Full Old Moon (also a Blue Moon) rises on the 31st at 8:27 A.M. EST, and brings the year’s only eclipse for North America just before dawn. Its total phase can be seen from west of the Mississippi and in western Canada.
- Both of January’s full Moons are Supermoons!
On January 3, Earth will be at perihelion. (In other words, it will be the closest to the Sun as it gets during its orbit).
January’s birthstone, the garnet, is thought to keep the wearer safe during travel. Learn more about January’s birthstone.
January Birth Flower
January’s birth flowers are the carnation and snowdrop. Read more about January’s birth flowers!
January’s Zodiac signs are:
- Capricorn: December 22–January 19
- Aquarius: January 20–February 18
Folklore for the Season
- Fog in January brings a wet spring.
- A favorable January brings us a good year.
- If grass grows in January, it will grow badly the whole year.
- A summerish January,
a winterish spring.