January was not always the first month of the year. The Ancient Romans used a different calendar system that resulted in March as the beginning of the year. Their calendar had ten months; which also ended like ours does now, with December. The name of December originates from the Latin word “decem” which translates to ten. The time of winter did not have a name in the Roman calendar; it was an unorganized time that lasted from 50 to 60 days. They considered winter to be the harshest time of the year and most of their way of life came to halt during this time. This time was just known as winter, until the first signs of spring would show.
The name March comes from Martius, the name of the first month of the Roman calendar. The month was named after the Roman god of war, Mars, who was first known as the guardian of agriculture and fertility. Martius (or March) was the beginning of the season for agriculture and war since the weather would become warm again. Since all of these activities came to an end during wintertime and would resume with the warmth, Martius was known as the overseer of new growth. This new growth included fertility and the procreation of humans, plants, and animals.