For most of you who read this blog: Happy New Year!
Hopefully, you had a few good days off work with friends and family and are now ready to tackle the challenges 2016 is, without a doubt, going to throw at us. Let’s see where in the world some festive times are still in store for January. Click on any event below to learn more about it.
1 January – New Year’s Day – Worldwide
Tradition has it that the first day of the year sets a pattern for the rest of the year: wear new clothes, don’t spend or loan money, don’t break anything, etc., but make a lot of noise at midnight to scare away evil spirits and don’t forget to kiss someone dear to you. In the US, you can follow the New Year celebration from 4:00 am Central on Thursday in the East (Russia), to 6:00 am on Friday in the West (Alaska).
4 January – World Braille Day – Worldwide
Braille is a tactile alphabet system invented in 1824 by a young blind man, Louis Braille, when he was 15 years old. Although it is the key to literacy for many people, current copyright laws prevent reproduction of books in accessible formats such as braille, thus making them inaccessible to schools in poor countries. Click the above link to see how you can help in the ratification of the treaty aiming at solving this problem.
6 January – Epiphany – Christians Worldwide
Epiphany (“Manifestation”) is the revelation of God the Son to the Magi (Melchior, Gaspar, and Baltazar, a.k.a. the three kings or wise men) as a human being in Jesus Christ. In Mexico, children receive gifts on this day. Marking the end of the Christmas season everywhere, it is a public holiday in some parts of Germany.
15 January – Makar Sankranti – Hindus
Makar Sankranti, a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India, although under different names, commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals celebrated on a fixed date.
18 January – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – United States
In 1983, President Reagan signed a bill to create a federal holiday honoring Dr. King, the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The holiday was first observed in some States in 1986, then in all 50 States in 2000. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15.
21 January – National Hugging Day – United States and various countries around the world
Created by Kevin Zaborney, National Hug Day hopes to encourage everyone to hug family and friends more often, although Zaborney cautions to ask first if one is unsure of the response! Research has shown that hugs increase levels of oxytocin, the love hormone, and reduce blood pressure.
25 January – Tu BiShvat – Israel
According to the Talmud, a fruit that ripened on a tree planted less than three full years before Tu BiShvat or Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot (“New Year of the Trees”) is considered ‘orlah’ meaning it’s forbidden to eat, while fruits ripened on older trees are permitted. In contemporary Israel, the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day when over one million Israelis take part in tree-planting activities.
26 January – Republic Day – India
Although India achieved independence from the British on August 15, 1947, following the Indian independence movement known for peaceful nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi, it did not have a permanent constitution until 1950. Republic Day, a national holiday in India, celebrates the date it came into effect throughout the nation.
26 January – Australia Day – Australia
On this day in 1788, the first fleet of British ships arrived at Port Jackson, New South Wales, but it was not until New Year’s Day in 1901 that the British colonies of Australia formed a Federation, marking the birth of modern Australia. January 26, a public holiday, has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.