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