Happy New Year 2016! The old has passed, and a new year has begun. It is January 1, and that brings us to a closer reflection on the Roman god after whom January is named: Janus. While we embrace the new year and its atmosphere of change, revival, and renewal, let’s take a moment for a historical look at the Roman god to whom this month was dedicated.
It might not be surprising that the month January is associated with new beginnings, changes, and transitions, as this is what Janus stood for. As January is the first month of the new year, it is a time for a change in seasons as well as reflection on both the new and the old. The Roman god Janus is depicted as having two faces. These faces are symbolic of the New Year and may even be represented by other symbols commonly found with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day: Father Time and Baby New Year. Janus has two faces – one that looks to the past and the other looks towards the future. These themes permeate New Year’s celebrations and traditions and are key to those who want a happy New Year’s in 2016.
— British Museum (@britishmuseum) January 1, 2016
For New Year, a curious 13-14thC seal matrix w/ Janus figure, poss meant as nobleman+fool? https://t.co/Xkw3nuPq0K pic.twitter.com/ot1LFoQDKs
— Dr Caitlin Green (@caitlinrgreen) January 1, 2016
While it might appear that Janus is a god of ancient times, he is not only worshipped by some, but many Christians challenge his deity to the point they feel January is contaminated or the traditions are in violation of Judeo-Christian principles. According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, the Romans worshipped Janus at important times.
“Janus is the Roman god of gates and doors (ianua), beginnings and endings, and hence represented with a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions. He was worshipped at the beginning of the harvest time, planting, marriage, birth, and other types of beginnings, especially the beginnings of important events in a person’s life. Janus also represents the transition between primitive life and civilization, between the countryside and the city, peace and war, and the growing-up of young people”
In the first video below, you will find historical teachings on Janus, followed by a prayer to the Roman god. The second video is a teaching done by a Christian evangelist who warns against the dangers of Janus or taking part in New Year’s traditions that have their root in Janus worship.
This teaching expressly states that enjoying New Year’s festivities is idolatry to God.
“When you honor New Years you’re honoring the god, Janus. That’s idolatry!” – Deacon Eythan???????????????? https://t.co/NSvN8zlR4Y
— Jake’s son (@JeshurunLives) January 1, 2016
— Sophie Hay (@pompei79) December 31, 2015
It is clear that while many participate in New Year’s Eve and its traditions while looking on the past as a time of self-reflection and towards the future in hope of change, there are others who view New Year’s through a religious lens. Some embracing the pagan roots of January and the New Year’s traditions while others readily reject them as idolatry and blasphemy towards the Christian/Judeo god.
One Christian, Jesse Birkey, who describes himself as prophetic gave a prophecy for 2016 describing what he called “Janus Christians” or two-faced Christians.
— Jesse Birkey (@JesseBirkey) December 22, 2015
It’s important to note that Janus was probably the most important god in ancient Rome. This is determined by the fact his temple was located on an important street that connected or led people to the Roman Forum. His face was on many coins, and according to Livius, the name Janus is often listed first in Roman lists of gods.
“The temple of Janus in Rome was situated in a street named Argiletum, an important road that connected the Roman Forum and the residential areas in the northeast. It was a small, wooden temple, and the building material suggests that the cult of Janus was of a venerable old age. This is confirmed by several facts. The oldest lists of gods usually began with his name; he was surnamed divom deus, a very ancient form of Latin meaning “the god’s god”; and his portrait can be found on the oldest Roman coins. Janus was, therefore, a very old and important Roman god. Before every sacrifice, he was invoked and received a libation.”
What are your views? Do you believe New Year’s is a time for fun, or should people be wary that they are inadvertently offering worship to Janus? What are your thoughts on how to have a Happy New Year in 2016?
[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]