January National Days
Now the excitement of Christmas is over, plan some small gatherings & celebrate one of the events in January.
1 New Year’s Day
The first day of the year on the Gregorian calendar. A day for starting anew & making resolutions (which invariably get broken before spring).
4 World Braille Day
Celebrated annually on January 4th, the birthday of Louis Braille. Louis invented a code for blind people to read & write where each character is made up of between 1 & 6 raised dots in a rectangular cell. Although a reading system had been in place before his birth in 1809, it was frustrating & difficult to learn.
5 Twelfth Night
The night before Epiphany, when the 3 Wise Men visited the baby Jesus & the twelfth day of Christmas. In Spain, children leave their shoes out on balconies or windowsills to be filled by the 3 Kings. In the UK it is considered bad luck to leave your Christmas decorations up passed this date. Feast days normally start at sundown & finish at sundown the next day which is why there is confusion as to whether Twelfth Night is the 5th or 6th – it’s both!
An ancient Christian feast day originally celebrating 4 different events; the nativity, the visit by the 3 Magi,the baptism of Christ & his first miracle. The birth of Christ became separated in the West into Christmas whilst the arrival of the 3 Wise Men on 6th January marked the end of the 12 days of Christmastide. It is also the date of the old Christmas Day under the Julian calendar.
6 National Shortbread Day
A traditional Scottish biscuit made with butter, flour & (thanks to Mary Queen of Scots) sugar & with a crumbly (short) texture. Shortbread Day is celebrated annually on 6th January.
8 English Toffee Day
A sweet made by caramelising sugar & butter, both chewy or hard versions are available. Lovely but mind your fillings!
9 Apricot Day
One of the best school dinner dishes I remember was apricot crumble! Whether you fancy a snack of the dried variety, a Moroccan tagine or a dessert (it’ll have to be tinned at this time of year), celebrate the gorgeous apricot.
9 Plough Monday
Celebrated on the first Monday after Epiphany/Twelfth Night & traditionally the start of the agricultural year when farm workers would go back to work after Christmas. As work was scarce in winter, the farm labourers would push a decorated plough around the village, calling at the wealthier houses & asking for money.
9-15 National Obesity Awareness Week
A health survey in 2011 concluded that ‘obesity is a major UK public health problem with 1 in 4 adults considered obese & current trends suggest this could exceed 50% by 2050’. Not good! With so many hidden ingredients in convenience foods, take an honest look at your diet & see how much cooking from scratch you can do this week.
10 Bitter Sweet Chocolate Day (USA)
Yet another chocolate day! This one celebrates a sweetened form of dark chocolate that contains no milk solids & is usually used for baking. It should contain no less than 35% cocoa solids. Try mixing into a plain cake batter or cookie dough before baking.
11 Hot Toddy Day
Curl up on the sofa & relax with a hot toddy. Toddies are generally a slug of spirit such as whisky or brandy, mixed with hot water, honey, lemon juice & spices. They are thought to help relieve cold symptoms with the lemon juice providing vitamin C, the honey to soothe the throat, and the cloves, cinnamon, alcohol & hot water to warm the body.
14 STIQ/STI Awareness Day
Held two weeks after New Year to encourage people to question their sexual health. Two weeks is the time after which common STIs such as Chlamydia can be tested for.
14 National Dress Up Your Pet Day (USA)
Do you like your pooch to match your outfit or your guinea-pig to sport a dapper bowtie? Celebrate your pet on this day & support the pet fashion community.
15 World Religion Day
Held on the third Sunday in January to promote inter-faith understanding & harmony.
16 Blue Monday
Hyped up by the press, this is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year; Christmas is well & truly forgotten (apart from the hole in your bank account), any New Year resolutions have failed, the weather isn’t great & there’s nothing in the calendar to look forward to. Well actually, there’s plenty happening so check out our website & plan an evening with friends & family!
18 Winnie The Pooh Day
Celebrated on the birthday of author AA Milne, the books were based on the author’s son & his toys. Visit Pooh Corner in Hartfield, East Sussex where the books were written & play Poohsticks on the original bridge. The cuddly yellow bear we think of today is thanks to Disney & the films he starred in with his friends.
19 National Popcorn Day (USA)
A type of corn that puffs up when heated, air-popped popcorn makes a good snack as it is low in calories & fat & high in fibre. Unfortunately, once you start adding toppings such as sugar, salt, butter or toffee, it goes to the other end of the scale. Fine occasionally but don’t have too many movie nights! What’s your favourite; sweet or salted?
20 Penguin Awareness Day
Penguins get celebrated around the world twice a year; on Penguin Awareness Day & on April 25th World Penguin Day. Raise awareness by finding out more about them, either online (www.nothingbutpenguins.com should help you) or at a library. You could even send your friends a penguin ecard!
20 National Cheese Lovers’ Day (USA)
Celebrate the wide variety of cheese on offer with a day of cheese tasting. Try ones you’ve never heard of before & from all over the globe & don’t forget to try goat cheese as well.
21 National Hug Day (USA)
Hugs are good for us, they reassure us & relieve stress & we probably don’t hug our family & friends nearly enough. Take time out to correct that – just warn strangers before you hug them!
22 National Blonde Brownie Day (USA)
As if you need an excuse to eat a brownie! The white version of one of our favourite cakes & also known as a blondie, these use vanilla flavouring & chocolate chips instead of the cocoa & dark chocolate.
22-28 Cervical Cancer Prevention Week
The focus of this week is on all things to do with cervical cancer including information about symptoms and causes of the disease & ways to prevent it. Support Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust by spreading the word about just how important it is for women to attend a screening – 22% of women still do not attend their cervical screening
23 National Pie Day
A savoury or sweet baked dish usually with a pastry lid or pastry top & bottom. There’s nothing more homely & comforting than a pie, especially when the weather’s cold.
24 Global Belly Laugh Day
Created by Elaine Helle in June 2005 to celebrate the great gift of laughter. Laughing’s good for us, it triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, reduces stress & is FREE. It’s also very infectious. Start giggling & see how many people around you start smiling.
24 National Peanut Butter Day
Celebrate the staple of most American households. Made from ground dry roasted peanuts you can use it as a spread on your toast or as an ingredient in cakes & cookies.
25 Burns Night
The annual tribute to the life & works of the poet Robert Burns, celebrated on his birthday. A Burns Supper can take any form but usually involves haggis & neeps, whisky & poetry reading. If possible, the haggis is piped into the room & the poem Address to a Haggis is read before serving.
26 Australia Day
Celebrated on the anniversary of the First Fleet British ships to New South Wales in 1788, this is a national holiday.
27 Holocaust Memorial Day
A time for everyone to pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
27 Chocolate Cake Day
Everyone’s favourite birthday cake! It had to happen; a day devoted to the chocolate cake. Whether it’s an everyday traybake or a celebratory one with ganache & sweets, the chocolate cake holds its own. Whip one up or pop into a bakery & treat colleagues or family – it’s for sharing.
27 Woolly Hat Day
In aid of St Mungo’s, a homelessness charity & housing association. Organise a ‘Wear a woolly hat’ event to help raise money or send in a donation. Visit Woolly Hat Day for more information.
28 Blueberry Pancake Day
Celebrate this American staple of many a breakfast. Similar to drop scones, the recipe is likely to have been brought over by Scottish immigrants in the 1700s. Thicker than an English pancake or French crepe, they benefit from being smothered in fruit & maple syrup.
28 Chinese New Year – year of the rooster
Chinese New Year is a time for families & it is usual for several generations to sit down to enjoy food & time together. The New Year’s Eve dinner is called Reunion Dinner and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Fish is a traditional food for New Year as the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for surplus. Chinese dumplings are served as they look like silver ingot. Eating these foods is believed to bring wealth for the year ahead.
Red is thought to be a lucky colour & every street, building, and house is decorated with it. Firecrackers are set off & there are lion & dragon dances. People exchange gifts during this Spring Festival; the most common are red envelopes with money in. These are given to children and retired people as it is not customary to give red envelopes to working adults.
28-30 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Help the RSPB with their survey & spend an hour over this weekend counting the birds in your garden.
28-4 Feb National Storytelling Week
‘The promotion of the oral tradition of storytelling, the very first way of communicating life experiences and the creative imagination’. Sit down with family for a storytelling session either from books or your own imagination or visit an event near you.
29 World Leprosy Day
Although a cure has been around for leprosy since the 1980’s, such is the stigma of the disease, that sufferers are afraid to seek help until it is too late. Raise awareness of leprosy & help transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest & marginalised people.
30 National Croissant Day
There are several stories as to the origins of the croissant but it appears to have started life in Austria as a kipfel (crescent shaped pastry) before being introduced to French bakers who adapted it into what we know today. Celebrate with a basket of the flaky pastries & a hot chocolate.
30 Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day
Started by a radio station in 2001 with events such as Bubble Wrap Popping Relay, Pop a Mole & fashion design contests. Who can resist popping bubble wrap?
31 Backward Day
Popular with children as you can wear your clothes backwards or start your meal with dessert – but adults can do it too! Let your imagination run wild.
31 National Bug Busting Day
The aim on this day is to find all the head lice and zap them in one fell swoop. This stops them from circulating endlessly. The charity Community Hygiene Concern produces Bug Busting materials for schools and Bug Buster Kits for families.