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Holidays and Celebrations in January

Updated on December 26, 2014

Holidays and celebrations are a part of many societies and cultures. There is always some holiday observance going on every month. Some holidays are nationally recognized and others are state recognized. Even still, there are holidays that are not officially recognized but many still observed by some. However, there are also some weird unofficial holidays that occur in January that leave most of scratching our heads with a raise eyebrow.

So what are the official holidays and celebrations observed in America during the month of January?

New Year's Day (January 1)

According to the Gregorian calendar, which like an international calendar of the world, New Year's Day falls on January 1st. Celebrations around the world actually start the evening before on New Year's Eve. Many people gather together by the billions to say goodbye to the previous year and eagerly usher in the new year. The climax to the celebration is with the anticipated stroke of midnight. Many places around the world shoot off fireworks, watch the New Year's Eve ball drop, and toast with champagne.

There are many traditions that come with this day. The most common tradition is writing out resolutions for the up coming year. Other people prepare certain foods. These foods vary depending on the culture and their significance. In the southern United States, it is common to black-eyed peas to bring luck in the new year.

Regardless of the tradition, most New Year's Day traditions are about making a positive change in your life, as well as bringing luck and prosperity in the upcoming year.

Orthodox Christmas (January 7)

Around the world, Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7, not December 25. The date of Christmas as many of us know it around the world, is actually based on the calendar system prior to the Gregorian calendar we use today. But if you were to compare the two calendars, January 7th of the Gregorian calendar is what December 25th of the Julian calendar.

Most Americans celebrate Christmas on December 25 still. However, there are some people in America that hold to the Orthodox Christian custom of Christmas falling on January 7 each year.

Orthodox Christians consider Christmas a time of fasting and doing good, charitable deeds. Some take it a step further by using the 40 days to renew their faith and become closer to God. Orthodox Christmas is also celebrated over a 3-day period with special services and feasts after fasting leading up to the day of Christmas.

Stephen Foster Memorial Day (January 13)

Stephen Collins Foster is considered as the "father of American music". Stephen Foster was known for his old-time folk songs that were especially popular during the Civil War from 1861-1869 but he had been writing songs since 1841 until his death in 1864.

Although his songs were considered popular folk songs, it wasn't officially given it national recognition until almost 100 years later. The Commonwealth of Kentucky was the first to recognize one of his songs officially. The song My Old Kentucky Home was written in 1853 and was made the official state song of Kentucky on March 19, 1928. Florida soon followed in 1935 by making Old Folks at Home their official state song.

On October 27, 1951, the United States passed (36 U.S.C. § 140) that January 13 would be a national holiday to memorialize a great American songwriter, Stephen Foster. The holiday was first observed in 1952.

In 1970, Stephen Foster was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. Then in 2010, the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fall also added him to their list of notable songwriters and composers.

Orthodox New Year (January 14)

As previously mentioned, Orthodox Christians follow the Julian Calendar, which is about 13 days behind in calculation compared to the Gregorian Calendar. Although the Orthodox New Year is not recognized as a national holiday in the United States, many Orthodox Christians gather in celebration and traditions.

Many Orthodox Christians gather on this date for New Year’s Day liturgies at their local churches. Some will either plan or attend traditional buffets and dinner dances to celebrate the new year.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (3rd Monday in January)

Martin Luther King, Jr. was renown for being a peaceful activist for civil rights. He challenged the laws, both on a federal and state level, that violated civil rights. He also called for peaceful, non-violent rallies and protests to demand change. In fact, his most famous speech that most American's are familiar with is his "I Have a Dream" speech, which was delivered on August 28, 1963.

In some states, Martin Luther King, Jr. Days is known as Civil Rights Day or Human Rights Day.

In 1983, President Ronald Regan signed into law that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be honored and memorialized on the third Monday of January. This places the holiday close to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, which is January 15. President Regan was originally against making this a national holiday, but finally signed it after the bill passed in the House with 338 in favor compared to the 90 who opposed.

In the American education system, they utilize this time to teach students about civil rights and equality in the United States. They also focus on the long difficult road of how civil rights and civil right laws have evolved and how they still need to evolve more, even today.

USA State Holidays

January 16
Lee Jackson Day
January 19
Robert E. Lee's Birthday
Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi
January 19
Confederate Memorial Day
January 19
Idaho Human Rights Day
January 19
Civil Rights Day
Arizona, New Hampshire
January 29
Kansas Day

Weird January Holidays

Did you know that January also has some rather strange holidays that are observed by some people? Keep in mind, these are not national or state holidays. Many are holidays to promote awareness or to just keep life a little quirky and fun.

Do you plan to observe any of these weird holidays in January?

See results

Quirky Holidays in January

January 1
Celebrate those whose last names begin with "z"
January 2
Run It Up a Flag Pole Day
January 3
Festival of Sleep
January 4
Trivia Day
January 5
Bird Day
January 6
Bean Day
January 7
Old Rock Day
January 8
Bubble Bath Day
January 10
Peculiar People Day
January 13
Rubber Duckie Day
January 14
Dress Up Your Pet Day
January 16
Do Nothing Day
January 17
Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions Day
January 18
Winnie the Pooh Day
January 19
Popcorn Day
January 24
Beer Can Appreciation Day
January 25
Opposite Day
January 28
Fun at Work Day
January 31
Inspire Your Heart with Art Day

© 2014 L Sarhan


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    • LindaSarhan profile image

      L Sarhan 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing holidays in India. Although I wrote this with holidays in America in mind, I have friends all over the world and love hearing about holidays they celebrate.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting facts, Linda Sarhan. Most of these holidays I don't know till now. It is true that people celebrate holidays in their own styles and beliefs. Every day may be a holiday in some corner or other of the world. It is a matter of belief and celebration.

      We, here in Southern India, celebrate a festive season from 16th December to 17th January which is known as Dhanurmasam or Pongal month culminating on 14th January with Makar sankranti and 3 more days extra.

      Thanks for sharing the information. Voted up and interesting.