Beat the January Blues – starting the year with a Bang!

Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We’ll tale a cop o’ kindness yer

For auld lang syne

Auld Lyne Ayne by Robert Burns.


It has been a few weeks since we sang those words by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, but it is an appropriate reminder for how we want to carry on in the New Year. Christmas and the festive cheer are finally over but its’ excess can make us feel down and a bit underwhelmed in January. The weather is still cold, but like a lot of us – you may want to get going and set some self-imposed resolutions you want to try. Some of these recur every year and personally I always hope to get fitter, read more, eat less, save more, spend less, be kind, more volunteering, etc. I am not sure about you, but I am still trying to stick to these at the end of January! Stacia Pierce @StaciaPierce, a life coach to women entrepreneurs, is one of my Twitter followers and shared this motivational new year goals picture below and blog post on ‘Focus: the key to reaching our goals’. I quite like it as a visual reminder.

Photo: Stacia Pierce’s Blog

However in January, there are still a few celebrations that are great for beating the well-known ‘January Blues’ that I am going to mention on here. Firstly in my neighbourhood, we had our second all-day soul disco party around my corner on new years day! It is a great way to start the new year in a local family friendly environment. I popped in the last two years for a boogie, and it was so nice to see people in the community dancing away the beginning of a new year. This is usually arrange by local deejays and community organisers in the Walthamstow Trades Hall.

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Next, I started celebrating Epiphany after over a decade ago when my French friend, Veronique, introduced us to La Fetes Des Rois with the cake Gallette Des Rois (King’s Cake). It is a national celebration in France and some continental European countries have a public holiday on the 6th January for Epiphany. It is a delicious cake and represents the arrival of the Three Wise Men who brought presents for baby Jesus on the 12th Day of Christmas.  The Gallete Des Rois is a fairly simple cake to make and you can find the recipe easily on the web. The best tradition of the cake is sharing it with close ones over a cup of tea or coffee. We play a fun game of getting the youngest child go under the table to randomly choose who should get the next slice of the cake. This is good fun as (1) it normally holds a token of good luck for the year ahead, and (2) you get to wear a crown for that day. It is a sweet tradition, and I am so grateful for my friend for introducing it to my family and I. It is not dissimilar to ‘Twelfth Day‘ which is another tradition that used to be practiced in the United Kingdom with coins in puddings.

This year, I made my first Gallette Des Rois to celebrate at home with Veronique. It will probably be a tradition I will continue after celebrating it for more than a decade. If you would like to try the Gallette Des Rois – you can order the gallette in advance from the French Patisserie Paul. I also saw this month that there are a few restaurants in London that were celebrating it – so you can give this feast a try next year.

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Another January celebration that I now look forward to is Burns Night, which is held in honour of the Scottish Poet Robert Burns on or around the 25th January. Robert Burns is Scotland’s most revered and famous poet – he is the same poet of ‘Auld Lyne’s Ayne’ as mentioned above. In the year 2001, I had my first experienced of a magnificent Burns Night party at the Waldrof Hotel. The venue was stunning with a live Ceilidh Band for some ‘Highland Fling’ dancing. Some of the men were dressed in Kilts and it will remain a memorable and fun experience for my colleagues and I at the time. Coincidently, on New Years Day this year, we stumbled upon the Winter Festival at the Southbank Centre with the Ceilidh Liberation Front band and dancing en masse in the foyer (see main header photo).

More recently, my Scottish friends invite us over for Burns Night and usually make the national dish – Haggis, mashed swede, mashed potatoes and cranachan with some of their own lovely traditions. Haggis tastes like spicy mince and it deservedly gets all the attention on this auspicious night! Robert Burns wrote many literary greats including his ‘Address to a Haggis’,  whereby the haggis usually is brought into the room by the chief, lead by a piper followed by toasts, poems and song, ending in the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

If you would like to celebrate this next year at home – Delia Smith has some tips on her website, and you can buy haggis from some supermarkets. There were also a few Burns Night celebrations in London, such as at Kerb Street Market. There is no excuse for you to join in the Scottish fun!

Burns Night is also a night when you can get in the spirit to partake of a “wee dram” of Whisky – the great Scottish export reliant and successful in international trade. The Scotch whisky industry has a “reputation as a global powerhouse, accounting for the largest volume of exports in the Scottish Manufacturing sector”. The current revenue is £5.1 Billion with 151 businesses whereby the spirits industry expects to grow by 2% in the current year as the depreciating pound lifts exports, according to the report ‘Spirits Production in the UK’ 2016 by IBIS World. Let’s toast to that!

Whisky – the great Scottish export reliant and successful in international trade. The Scotch whisky industry has a “reputation as a global powerhouse, accounting for the largest volume of exports in the Scottish Manufacturing sector”. Spirits Production in the UK – IBIS World 2016.

And my final January celebration is the annual Winter Warmer SLA Europe Quiz. It is a great time to meet friends, guests and fellow information professionals with a lot of fun, food and drink in an informal networking event. An excellent and funny quizmaster called AskTony runs this quiz. The general knowledge questions are hard (some are easy), random and themed with video and music clips – a librarian’s dream. I always come away with learning all those useless facts I didn’t know before! The connections quiz round is the one that make your brain cells frizz with excitement or dread! I have been lucky to be in the winning team for a few years, and win or lose…it is a brilliant night that I can recommend to you for your friends or colleagues.

So, I have had a lot of ‘January’ fun and I seem to be celebrating non-stop this year already. However, it is a time when I also think of serious goals for myself such as those mentioned in my opening paragraph. They are resolutions that I recycle each year and I am forever trying to adhere to them – but honestly it is difficult. Last year I made a resolution to myself to start my own blog. Evidently on here, I am pleased that this is my first full year of blogging. I am grateful for your comments, feedback and positive encouragement. I am happy and will continue to share a bit of my world with you, and together we can keep those ‘blues’ at bay.