The Carnation is the traditional flower of january

January 2023 Cultural Diversity Review

Cultural Diversity

January is ushered in with New Year’s Day, which is celebrated with a public holiday for 90% of the world’s population, making it the most widely observed holiday of the year. January is notable for the lack of national days; clearly January wasn’t a good time to ask your colonial powers for your independence. Indeed the major national day, Australia Day somewhat controversially celebrates the colonial arrival in Australia.

Month info: January is named after Janus, the god of the doorway; the name has its beginnings in Roman mythology, coming from the Latin word for door (ianua) since January is the door to the year. The Saxon word for January was Wulfmonath: the month when starving wolves were bold enough to enter villages.

Featured Holiday in January 2022

 January 1: New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day is January 1st, the first day of the year, in the Gregorian calendar, and falls exactly one week after the Christmas Day of the previous year.

New Year’s Day is a public holiday in all countries that observe the Gregorian calendar, with the exception of Israel. This makes it the most widely observed public holiday in the year.

It is traditionally celebrated with firework displays across the globe at 00:00 in the local time zones.

Did you know?
The first recorded New Year’s celebration dates back 4,000 years to Babylon, when the first moon after the spring equinox marked a new year.

The early Roman calendar began with March, and when January and February were added during one of the many attempts to clean up the calendar, they were actually added to the end of the year. The start of the year was first fixed at 1st January in 153 BCE, to mark the two Roman consuls who ruled the republic taking office.

This tinkering by the Romans had little effect on when different parts of Europe celebrated New Year. For some, it might begin on Christmas Day, for others it could still be March 1st or even March 25th. For some, it was even determined by Easter, which meant a different New Year’s Day date every year.

It wasn’t until the Gregorian calendar was adopted that things finally settled down with January 1st becoming the accepted New Year’s Day across the world.

Did you know?
Robert Burns never wrote ‘For the sake of Auld Lang Syne’ as the last line of his chorus. ‘Auld lang syne’ already means ‘old times’ sake’. Sing ‘For-or oh-old la-ang syne’ instead.

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Jan 6: Epiphany

It is always celebrated on January 6th and commemorates the presentation of the infant Jesus to the Magi, or three wise men. In some countries, it may be known as ‘Three Kings Day‘.

Interestingly, the bible doesn’t mention how many wise men there were – just that three gifts were given and that they came from the east.

The common consensus is that there were between two and twenty wise men. They were likely to have been Zoroastrian Priests. It wasn’t until about 500AD that three was accepted to be the standard number of wise men – the reasoning simply due to the number of gifts. To further complicate matters, the wise men may not even have been men or wise. In 2004, a report by the general synod of the church of England concluded that ‘magi’ gives no indication as to number, or gender, or even to the level of wisdom.

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Jan 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Each year on the third Monday of January, America honors the birth, life and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is a time to remember the injustices that Dr. King fought. A time to remember his fight for the freedom, equality, and dignity of all races and peoples through non violence.

Dr. King was an American clergyman and civil-rights leader. He led the black boycott of segregated city bus lines in 1956 and gained a major victory as a civil-rights leader when Montgomery buses began to operate on a desegregated basis.

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Jan 21: Lunar New Year

Known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year has a great history. In other traditions, by this time in the year, most resolutions have been forgotten or put back to the following year. However, all hope is not lost, as there’s a second chance to get it right with the celebration of Lunar New Year.

The origin of the Chinese New Year is itself ancient and obscured by the amount of time. It is popularly recognized as the Spring Festival and celebrations last 15 days. The public holidays last about a week and stores and places of business usually reopen on the fifth day of the first lunar month.

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Jan 26: Australia Day

Australia Day a public holiday on January 26th and is Australia’s national day.

It marks the arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales on that date in 1788, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain by Captain Arthur Phillip.

It was not until 1994 that all the states and territories endorsed the celebration of Australia Day on the actual day, instead of the nearest Monday. United Australia Day celebrations have been held on January 26th ever since.

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National Days in January

Only six countries have their national days in January. How many people in the company do you know from each country? Remember to wish them a happy national day!

Jan 1CubaLiberation Day: Marks the 1959 Revolution led by Fidel Castro
Jan 1HaitiIndependence Day: Marks independence from France in 1804
Jan 1SudanIndependence Day: Independence from Egypt and Britain in 1956
Jan 8Northern Mariana IslandsCommonwealth Day: The constitutional government takes office in 1978
Jan 26AustraliaAustralia Day: Date of the founding of Sydney, the first European settlement in Australia, 1788
Jan 31NauruIndependence Day: Independence from the Australia, NZ, and UK administered UN trusteeship in 1968

There is a Day for That!

Throughout the month, there are days set aside to observe all sorts of events, some serious and some not so serious. These days can provide interesting ways to engage employees in diversity issues. The table below shows a selection of these days with some ideas how you could use them within your organization.

1stNew Year’s ResolutionsDiscussion: What would be your three resolutions? One for you in your personal life, one for you in your work life and one for your company.
4thNational Trivia DayDiscussion: What’s the best bit of trivia you know, that nobody else knows?
11thNational Clean Off Your Desk DayAction: It’s a bit early for a spring clean, but now all the festivities are over, take this time to clean up your desk.
12thNo Longer New Year’s DayYour office needs you! Promote this holiday to break the endless Happy New Year cycle!
24thNational Compliment DayAction: How many compliments can you give your co-workers before they realize something’s up? Hint: if it’s one – cheer up, grumpy!
28thNational Have Fun At Work DayPoll: You already have fun at work, right?
29thNational Puzzle DayActivity: How about running a short quiz on the intranet to brighten up the long winter days?

View all global observances in January 2023