It’s January – don’t worry

January is the month when people are feeling at their lowest. You’ve survived Christmas and New Year. The weather changes so quickly one day you can be rejoicing in glorious sunshine (briefly for those of us in the north) and the next hailstones are battering off your face as you run for cover.

janusJanuary takes its name from the Roman god Janus – he was a 2 faced guy – one to the past, one to the future. But he is also the god of beginnings (oops and endings) and presides over wars – but also over peace. This is a good way to think of January – putting all the old stuff behind you and getting on with the new. That includes any New Year Resolutions you rashly said you would fulfill. Well done if you do but don’t worry if you don’t – January gives you permission to start anew.

Lots of good things happen in January – kids return to school – very popular.

In Scotland it’s a great month for haggis. Personally I like haggis at any time of the year because it’s a very cheap and tasty food. There are more ways to use it in a recipe than just by cooking it as it is,  although that’s still the best.

Haggis Patties

Haggis Patties

Helen’s Home Cooking and Haggis patties for one. You can even make your own Taylor’s Ultimate Haggis.

For me haggis is best served with mashed potatoes and neeps/clapshot. Plain and simply the best.

I’m not a fan of Burns Suppers – too much speechifying – but around the world, at this time of year, thousands of people will be celebrating Scotland’s national bard, Rabbie Burns. They will be served haggis and a few drams no doubt. Although Robert Burns was born on 25th of January 1759 his birthday is celebrated for weeks before and after that.

Rabbie BurnsA blast o’ Janwar wind blew hansel in on Robin announcing the birth of oor Rabbie. A poet famed not only in Scotland but internationally. Indeed the first postage stamps honouring Robert Burns were issued in the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in 1956 to commemorate 160 years after his death. It wasn’t until 1966 that stamps were issued in Britain  – that was for 170 years after his death.

I first started reading the poems of Robert Burns as a child. At school we took part in the Burns Federation Society competitions in singing and recitation (I won the latter twice first time with Scots Wha Hae, second time with A Man’s A Man). The teachers chose what we learned but it was when I would read at night that I would take up dad’s copy of poems and immerse myself in the world of Tam O’ Shanter. This was no easy task as it had to be accomplished by torchlight such were the conditions of siblings sharing rooms. And of course I didn’t understand every word of it. I was a kid. Important note of information – you do not need to know the meanings of every single word – allow yourself to be caught up in the musicality of a world filled with witches, warlocks and humour.

So who else famous was born in January?

Joan of Arc – burned at the stake at age only 19 – a French patriot but betrayed to the English who were fighting a war in part of what we now call France. She was found innocent 26 years later but burning at the stake is strangely enough –  irreversible.

Elvis poster E Keyes

Elvis Presley – The King – he showed men what hips were made for and what they could do.

Martin Luther KingMartin Luther King jnr and Mohammad Ali – great heroes and legends in their own lifetime.

“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” Martin Luther King jnr

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” Mohammed Ali

January 24th is supposed to be the most depressing day of the whole year. Look at it this way – be like Janus and his 2 faces – and look forward to a year that can only improve from that point on.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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2 replies »

  1. Good on you for writing this, Fiona, bringing a bit of light-heartedness to this time of year.
    I spend quit a lot of time, struggling with a state of mind which would be called depression, but I fight it. I even fight having that label!
    Anyhoo, I do notice that it’s harder at this time of year. So – I remind myself that it is January, it is winter. It’s the Winter Blues. And I remind myself, once again, to just keep going – keep on keeping on. And, remind myself to make the most of a sunny day – make the most of seeing the first snowdrops.
    I’m not saying that these things are ‘cures’ for depression, they’re not. But I’ve found it helpful to – try to be aware of what it is that’s happening to me and my state of mind, and recognize it for what it is, and even if I can’t make it go away, remember that the way ahead, is to keep going, and this time will pass.
    I hope my saying this might be of help to someone reading it.
    It is the depths of winter, we, as humans do respond to this , and those of us with….troubled minds, can respond in ways which are hard for us to deal with. Please, remind yourself that it is winter – it will pass.

    The Plants Who Teach Me All I Know

    The plants, who teach me all I know,
    have shown me it is part of life
    to be frozen and formless
    in the dark below.

    Dying, the thing that we most dread,
    each year they readily embrace:
    I bow to them, my friends the plants,
    who shed their forms with such good grace.

    They give themselves to winter’s night,
    and then, when all’s completely lost,
    from dark and cold they rise again
    and strive, strive, strive for the light.

    From ‘Soul Gardening’ by Jeremy Naydler

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