With Christmas and New Year over, January can seem like quite a dull and dreary month. It’s getting colder, exams are piling up and there’s not always too much excitement. However, if we take a look at other countries’ traditions, we might find a little inspiration with how to make January a little better, and even adopt a few new traditions when trying to combat those January blues.
Galette des Rois – 6th January – just over the Channel, in France, we can find the joys of beautifully scrumptious almond, buttery cakes. These almond cakes are called “galette des rois” (cake of the kings) because they celebrate the 3 wise men visiting Bethlehem. Hidden inside the cake though, is a little porcelain figure (known as ”a fève”). The cake is cut up into slices and whoever gets the fève in their slice becomes “the king” and is honoured with a paper crown. Although it’s typical done on the 6th, it usually carries on throughout January. So plenty of time to indulge!
Russian Christmas – 7th January – Russia celebrate Christmas a bit later than us. Christmas is usually a very religious occasion in Russia. They honour it with a wonderful 12 course meal on Christmas day! This mainly consists of variations of pork accompanied by a porridge type dish. Then of course followed by dessert which is cakes, berries and biscuits. So Christmas really can come around twice a year, and it’s nice to see how other cultures differ in their Christmas traditions.
Robert Burns Night – 25th January – Robert Burns was a very well-renowned Scottish playwright and poet, who is still greatly revered in Scotland today. This is done with a delicious feast accompanied by highland festivities. The meal usually consists of haggis and neeps and tatties (a mashed swede and potato medley). However you can make variations to the feast, as I did by preparing a highland beef pie for my flat for this celebration last year. Throw in a few attempts of Highland dancing, bagpipe music and readings of Burns’ poetry and it should prove to be a lovely evening. It shows you don’t have to go too far to find new traditions either.
St-Dwynwen’s Day – 25th January – Another relatively local tradition. St. Dwynwen is the patron saint of love in Wales. St Dwynwen was unlucky in love, as she was not able to marry her true love. So she became a nun and has prayed for the luck of future lovers ever since. The Welsh tend to celebrate this very similarly to the traditional Valentine’s Day. However finding another reason to share the love in the bleakness of January, is hardly a bad thing.
Chinese New Year – 28th January – we’ve all undoubtedly heard of Chinese New Year. However I doubt many actually know its numerous ins and outs (I certainly didn’t). Chinese New Year is typically celebrated to wish good fortune for the upcoming year (previously for farming purposes but now for business). The days leading up to it include cleaning the house and buying decorations to adorn your abode for New Year’s Day. On New Year’s Eve (27th of January), they put up the decorations and have a family reunion dinner, which, depending on which region people are from, could consist of dumplings or a type of sticky rice cake. On New Year’s Day they put on new clothes and fireworks light up the sky to scare away bad spirits. Huge parades are also held, including a huge one in London that may be more convenient. Either way you won’t be short of options to bring in the Chinese new year if you want to get involved.