Janus was the ancient Roman god of beginnings and endings.

The Romans worshipped him at the beginning of the year. Early Christians worshipped underground at that time, which explains why January 1 has had special religious significance for over two millennia.

Janus was depicted with two faces, as illustrated in Wikipedia.

The month of January is named after him: closing the door on one year and opening the door to a new one.

In linguistics there are Janus words: those which carry contradictory meanings. Susie Dent, an English lexicographer and etymologist as well as the queen of Dictionary Corner on the brainy game show Countdown, explained in last week’s Radio Times (31 December 2016 – 6 January 2017):

Such words are usually known as contranyms: in other words, they have meanings that directly contradict each other, depending on the context. To “sanction” something, for example, can mean to authorise its use, but it can also mean to penalise it. To “screen a film is to show it, but to screen something from view is to hide it. You can be in a fix, but you might also be able to fix the same problem.

Mental Floss, among other websites, has more examples of Janus words.

Going back to January, this is the start of many endings and many beginnings which will take place around the world, starting in the United States on Friday, January 20. What timing. It will be a long weekend for a number of Americans who plan to take the day off and celebrate the inauguration of Donald Trump, even if they do it from the comfort of their own home.

Washington DC will be a madhouse that day:

Newsweek has the full three-day schedule of events, which begins with a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery on Thursday, January 19 and ends with the interfaith National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral (Episcopalian) on Saturday, January 21.

Inauguration 2017 has more detailed information.

The parade following the swearing-in ceremony will be shortened this year. Trump is eager to get to work — and probably has a low boredom threshold — so it will only be an hour long. Similarly, there will only be three official inaugural balls that evening. The incoming president and first lady will appear at all three.

As is customary, past US presidents and their wives will be in attendance to witness the transfer of power. Although George HW Bush will not be present because of health problems, his son George W Bush and wife Laura will be there. Jimmy Carter is going. Bill and Hillary Clinton will also attend.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr will conduct the swearing-in ceremony at noon (Eastern time).

We are about to begin an exciting time which will reverberate throughout the world.

France, Germany and the Netherlands have elections this year, so it will be interesting to see what the Trump Effect will be.

Foreign policy will also change dramatically. We can look forward to a time of peace in that respect, as Trump prefers negotiation to conflict.

Furthermore, as I said two weeks ago, it will also be a time of great revelations with regard to the Democrat/Republican combine.

Stay tuned!  A new chapter of history is about to be written and we’ll be alive to witness it.

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