The Month of January 2018: Holidays, Fun Facts, Folklore

All About the Month of January

Winter Country Scene

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 Calendar

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.
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:

Snowdrop flowers


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!


Everyday Advice

Full Moon in 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!

Read more about January’s full Moons.

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).

The dark January skies are great for stargazing. Get the highlights in our January Sky Watch.


January Birthstone

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!

The Zodiac

January’s Zodiac signs are: 

  • Capricorn: December 22–January 19
  • Aquarius: January 20–February 18

Get your Zodiac Profile!

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. 

Want to learn more? Read about the Month of December or the Month of February!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

I'd like to know what to look

I'd like to know what to look under to see what days of each month thats good to cut hair so it will grow.

See our Best Days timetable

See our Best Days timetable for best days to cut hair to encourage growth here:

How do I find the sign, like

How do I find the sign, like when it is in head, feet, etc?

Kathy, See our Man of the

Kathy, See our Man of the Signs here:
Find more information in the annual printed edition of The Old Farmer's Almanac.

If inanimate objects are

If inanimate objects are immune to wind chill, then why do bridges freeze over easier than the pavement that is over earth

The bridge freezes before the

The bridge freezes before the road because of what is called thermal inertia. The ground under the road constitutes a large mass that does not cool as fast as the air surrounding the bridge.

Ok - here is what I was told

Ok - here is what I was told when I asked my geology prof in college that same question. Because while in the summer pavement is a source of radiant heat, in the winter when you get below the frost line the ground is still above freezing. It holds heat better than asphalt or concrete because it is thicker. That is also why the ground around culverts freezes quicker. (:

Actually, bridges are not

Actually, bridges are not inanimate. They are build to give, move when they bare weight. They are also usually either over a pocket of air, or body of water and that would also add to their ability to freeze. Also, Water freezes on any surface it lands on.