The Month of January 2019: Holidays, Fun Facts, Folklore

All About the Month of January

December 26, 2018
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!

Calendar Notes for January 2019

January was originally the eleventh month, not the first, until at least 153 B.C. The month was 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 is National Hot Tea Month and National Clean Up Your Computer Month.
  • 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 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? 
  • January 21 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.

Astronomy: Total Lunar Eclipse!

  • On January 3, Earth will be at perihelion. (In other words, the Earth will be at the point in its orbit where it is closest to the Sun). The planet will be 91,403,554 miles from the Sun!
  • January 20, 2019 brings the Great American Total Lunar Eclipse! This eclipse is visible from North America. The Moon will enter the penumbra at 9:35 P.M. EST on January 20 (6:25 P.M. PST on January 20) and leave the penumbra at 2:50 A.M. EST on January 21 (11:50 P.M. PST on January 20).
  • The dark January skies are great for stargazing. Get more highlights in our January Sky Watch.

Credit: NASA. Total Lunar Eclipse (from 2015)

Moon Phases for January 2019

  • New Moon: January 5, at 8:28 P.M. EST
  • First Quarter: January 14, at 1:46 A.M. EST
  • Full Wolf Moon: January 21, at 12:16 A.M. ESTRead more about January’s full Moon.
  • Last Quarter: January 27, at 4:10 P.M. EST

See your custom local Moon Phase Calendar!

Gardening: Start Planning!

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! Now offering a free 7-day trial!


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!

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:

Potato and Kale Soup. Photo by Gaus Alex/Shutterstock.
Potato and Kale Soup. Photo by Gaus Alex/Shutterstock.

It’s also a great time to break out the pancake recipes for a warm, hearty breakfast. Here’s a collection of our favorite pancake recipes!

Everyday Advice

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!

Snowdrop 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. 

Have a lovely January!


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.

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

The Editors's picture

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.