Jewels of January Events 2023
Fascinating events occurring this January
Welcome to January 2023!
It's a new year—already. After New Year's Day on January 1, the Martin Luther King holiday on January 16 is a big deal in the United States. The International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 3-7 and the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia from December 31 to January 15 will keep international journalists busy. In China, The Year of the Water Rabbit begins on January 22. Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 6 or 7, depending on the nation, and the World Economic Forum will be held in Switzerland from January 16-20.
The royal declaration of Australia in 1788 sets the scene for Australia Day on January 26. Morroco (January 11, 1944), Haiti (January 1, 1804), Sudan (January 1, 1956), and Myanmar (January 4, 1948) each celebrate their national holiday, Independence Day. Cuba (January 1, 1899/1959), Poland (January 17, 1945), and Togo (January 13, 1967) celebrate Liberation Day; Naru (January 31, 1968) observes National Day, and Nepal (January 11, 1723) marks National Unity Day. Happy anniversary to all!
Let's kick off this month's featured events with a funny joke that turned into a favorite fundraiser, National Fruitcake Toss Day.
NATIONAL FRUITCAKE TOSS DAY
Date: January 3, 2023
Location: United States
Champion: Unofficial Event. No Sponsor.
The National Fruitcake Toss was originally a joke but has become a key fundraising opportunity for charities. It's always newsworthy, and the dense consistency of fruitcakes makes them highly mobile when thrown.
Fruitcakes are a dessert popular during Christmas made with dried fruits, nuts, flour, and butter. In some ancient cultures, it was a custom to bury one's loved ones with fruitcakes; today, it is more customary to re-gift fruitcakes. Many of us are guilty of this, or at least 38% of Americans report doing so.
Those that re-gift have likely never tasted a good fruitcake—and there really are EXCELLENT buttery, nutty, apricot—cranberry—raisin—apple—cherry, and coconut fruit cakes. Many are marinated in brandy (before serving) and make quite a delicious addition to afternoon tea (or breakfast coffee, if you dare).
PS: Of the thousands of images I've created or photographed for LEEP Calendar, "Frenzy the Flying Fruitcake" is one of my favorites!
Date: January 23, 2023
Location: Russia, Bulgaria
Champion: Bulgarian Tradition
Babinden is a traditional Bulgarian observance celebrated in Russia and known as the Day of the Midwives.
At dawn, women and children under three rise and head to the local well, where they draw water and infuse it with basil or geranium. Drinking the infusion, they make their way to the midwife's house, where she is bathed by the mothers and presented with a bouquet of geraniums tied in red and white ribbon. The ribbons symbolize a healthy child with rosy cheeks.
The midwife removes the ribbons to secure a silver coin. Each coined ribbon then embellishes each child born with the midwife's help. The children also receive a gift of new socks and shirts. Next, another pitcher of water is drawn, infused with basil or geraniums, and taken to the local church, where it is blessed. Mothers will use the blessed water a little bit each day to bathe for the next forty.
At noon, the party returns to the midwife's house, where the mothers and their female relatives prepare a feast exclusively for women. Upon its conclusion, the town's men join the festivities, usually dressed as oxen and pulling a cart. Their job is to parade the midwife through the village. Should the men encounter any women, a fee to pass is paid.
Babinden's elaborate customs celebrate motherhood and the essential services of midwifery. It's a celebration of life and an assurance that the midwife blesses each child during its first three years to ensure a long, healthy life.
Date: January 24 - February 21, 2023
Champion: Bolivian Tradition
Making a little deal out of big dreams, Alasitas is a unique festival found only in Bolivia.
The pre-Columbian (<1492) Aymara people of Bolivia ushered in the fall harvest season with a pagan festival celebrating the goddess of abundance, Ekeko. Prayers with offerings of miniaturized objects to the goddess informed the ritual, with hopes of being blessed with abundance in the coming year.
With the arrival of Christianity, the festival folded into the pre-Lent celebrations. Later, the anniversary of the January 24, 1781 battle between the Bolivians and imperial Spain marked its beginning, making it a civic holiday.
Today, Alasitas begins on the battle's anniversary in La Paz and continues for a month, usually until the first day of Lent. Priests and shamans perform blessings. Everything in the town goes small, from fun-size food to tiny bicycles, dolls, and plants. Even money and houses are miniaturized for those wishing for either in the upcoming year.
These little dreams and indulgences are part of the celebration. Bolivians purchase and collect miniature dolls, furniture, plants, and other collectibles to represent their hopes and wishes for the coming year and eat mini meals of itty bitty foods. Globally, Alasitas is often referred to as The Festival of Miniatures, bringing the festival and traditions full circle to their cultural origins.
BURNS NIGHT SUPPER
Date: January 25, 2023
Location: Scotland & Worldwide
Champion: Historical Anniversary
Burns Night Supper is celebrated every year on January 25 in Scotland and among poetry lovers worldwide.
On this night, people honor the life, art, and satire of Robert Burns, considered one of the greatest poets and bards ever produced in Scotland. Burns was born on January 25, 1759, and died on July 21, 1796, at age 37.
His closest friends organized the first Burns Night Supper six years after his death in 1802. They gathered, read his poems, sang songs, ate haggis, and drank to his memory. Lovers of Burns' poetry have been doing the same every year.
Burns's most famous works include the following:
Auld Lang Syne (The New Year's Song)
To a Mouse (Which inspired Steinbeck's title "Of Mice and Men")
And the collection "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect."
Oh, and if you ever take the citizenship test for the United Kingdom, you will do well to know who Robert Burns is. Yes, you will be tested!
BIG WIG DAY
Date: January 27, 2023
Location: United States
Champion: Sharkey Films LLC
The term 'big wig' originated in 1730s Europe. The wealthier you were, the larger the wig you wore. Large or big wigs were an outward sign of a rich, important person. Centuries later, the term would designate the boss, a VIP, or someone in authority.
National Big Wig Day doesn't aspire to such august ambitions. It started as silliness in 2016 and as a way to brighten up a lackluster mid-winter day. It became a fundraiser for people struggling with cancer and enduring chemotherapy, as hair loss is a symptom.
The best way to celebrate, sport your favorite wig today and go to the website for the event and choose a charity to donate to. Each year more charities join. Check the site for the most updated list.
THOMAS CRAPPER DAY
Date: January 27, 2023
Champion: Historical Anniversary
Thomas Crapper Day honors Thomas Crapper, an English plumber born in Yorkshire in 1837, who died on January 27, 1910.
Crapper is errantly credited with inventing the modern flushing toilet; he did not—but he is the key reason outhouses fell out of favor and homes have WCs.
The first flush toilet was created in 1596 by Sir John Harington, the godson of Queen Elizabeth I, for the palace. The first patent for a version that contained the water went to Alexander Cumming of England in 1775. In the 1880s, Crapper expanded on Cumming's "S-shaped" plumbing patent with the ballcock, the float inside the tank that allows water to regulate its level. Once Prince Albert took him on as royal plumber, he began mass-producing the commode under his company "Thomas Crapper & Co."
His invention remained largely a European convenience until American soldiers returned via England in 1918 after WWI experienced it. Referred to as the "porcelain throne," models often bore the brand name "Crapper," thus Thomas' association with the privy.
Crapper spent his life advocating for sanitation and increasing accessibility to it for the general public. He is the first to support toilets in the homes of every man, not just the aristocracy. Over his life, he received nine patents, with three related to the humble toilet.
Unless you've traveled through rural Asia or Africa, where the western toilet is often non-existent (or replaced with in-the-floor squat pots—as a woman, do not get me started), you've probably never appreciated it. Or what a messy and uncomfortable process doing one's business once was and can still be in some parts of the world.
JANUARY SPORTS HIGHLIGHTS
The Winter Special Olympics in Russia, which was to take place in January, was canceled.
However, the Summer Special Olympics will continue in Berlin this June. Here are the topline sporting events in January.
African Nations Championship (Football/Soccer) January 8-31; Algeria
Australian Open (Tennis), January 16-29; Australia
Biathlon World Cup (Men & Women), January 16-22; Italy
Dakar Rally (Auto racing), December 31 - January 15; Saudi Arabia
Formula E World Championship (Auto racing), January 14; Mexico
Hamilton Sevens (Rugby), January 22; New Zealand
Men's Field Hockey World Cup, January 13-29—; India
Men's World Championships (Handball), January 12–29; Poland & Sweden
NFC & AFC Championship Games (American Football), January 29; United States
NHL Winter Classic (Ice Hockey), January 2; United States
Winter World University Games (Multiple Sports), January 12-22; United States
Winter X Games (Multiple Sports), January 27-29; United States
World Grand Prix (Snooker), January 16-22; Wales, United Kingdom
THE SPRING FESTIVAL
January 21 - February 3, 2023;
Official National Holiday: January 21-27, 2023;
Chinese New Year (Year of the Rabbit): January 22, 2023
Champion: Chinese Tradition
The Spring Festival, a major holiday, is the name for the 15 days between Chinese New Year's Eve and the Festival of Lanterns. It is revered like Christmas in the west or the Eid holidays in the Islamic world. Nationally, it is a whole week's celebration.
During the Spring Festival, gifts and red packets of money in even number denominations are exchanged. Families travel to be together; holiday foods are prepared on Chinese New Year's Eve. That night's feast is the "reunion dinner" and the most important holiday meal. Retailers go crazy with specials leading up to and during the festivities. Activities culminate on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival, marking the end of the annual Chinese New Year celebration.
For organizations with business interests in China, block out the week leading up to and the first seven days of the Spring Festival. Getting anyone to pay much attention will be challenging, and celebration is the theme.
Each day of the Spring Festival has a different activity.
Day one is the welcoming of the deities with firecrackers, dragon dancing, and a vegetarian diet.
On day two, married daughters visit their parents.
Day three is Red Mouth Day, and paper is burned, symbolizing the destruction of wrath. It is considered very unlucky to visit or have guests on this day.
Day four features dinners hosted by employers. Businesses go back to work.
Day five features birthday celebrations for the god of wealth. Firecrackers light the sky, ensuring his favor, good fortune, and prosperity in the year ahead.
Day six is a day of rest.
Day seven is the universal birthday, where everyone becomes one year older, regardless of their actual birthday. Buddhists will avoid meeting people, and non-Buddhists will eat a raw fish salad to promote wealth and prosperity in the year ahead.
Day eight focuses on family dinners, with companies hosting lunch or dinner to celebrate the birth of the Jade Emperor. In the hours leading up to midnight, burning incense and food offerings make their way to the shrines of the emperor. Should a family fail to make offerings, the kitchen god reports their lack of adherence to the Jade Emperor. Uh-oh! Now they’re in trouble!
Day nine is a day for prayers and offerings to the Jade Emperor.
Days ten through twelve host parties for the Jade Emperor.
Day 13 is vegetarian, a day designed to cleanse the stomach. Prayers, offerings, and tributes to the Chinese god of war, General Guan Yu of the Han Dynasty, take center stage.
Day 14 is open.
The final day features the Shangyuan Festival of Lanterns. People eat traditional Chinese foods like rice dumplings, rice ball soup, and candies. Families stroll the town carrying colorful lanterns.
That's it for this issue. A happy and prosperous year to all. The next issue will cover events in February. Thank you for subscribing and sharing this with friends and colleagues. I really appreciate it. Until then, Tchau!