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English Diary

British Customs, British Culture and British Traditions in January

31st December to 1st January

New Year's Eve

Let's go first footing! Find out all about the British New Year and some of our traditions here.Learn More

2nd January

Divorce Day

Divorce day is the lawyers’ nickname for the first Monday back at work after the Christmas break. It seems that lots of couples contact them following the stresses of trying to organise a perfect Christmas, determined to seek new and separate lives in the New Year.

6th January

Twelfth Night

12th night is when all Christmas decorations in Britain are taken down, otherwise it is considered bad luck!

16th January

Blue Monday

Bad weather, debt, seasonal blues and failed resolutions all mean that this day is miserable. Well, according to one scientist; Cardiff University tutor Cliff Arnalls, who says his formula proves this is the grimmest day of the year.

The formula for this day of misery reads 1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA.
Where W = weather | D = debt - minus the money (d) due on January's pay day | T = the time since Christmas | Q = the period since the failure to quit a bad habit | M = general motivational levels and NA = the need to take action and do something about it.

17th January


Wassailing is an old English ritual which usually involved winter carollers going from house to house on Old Twelfth Night. They would sing to the residents in exchange for small gifts of money, food and drink (often wassail.) The people of Carhampton in Somerset reenact it an a peculiar way in order to renew the fertility of the 'family' apple tree by dancing round in a circle and singing a tradtional song and watering the tree with a wassail drink. 17th January is "old" twelfth night (before the calendar's changed).

"Old apple tree, we'll wassail thee, and hoping you will bear ... " Learn More

18th January

Winnie the Pooh Day

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh and all his fans celebrate his creation today. Read a Winnie the Pooh story, or draw a picture and send it to a friend.Learn More

18th January

Thesaurus Day

Thesaurus day is held every year to celebrate the birthday of Peter Roget (the author of Roget's Thesaurus), who was born in 1779.

A thesaurus lists synonyms (words with the same or similar meaning) and antonyms (words with the opposite meaning) for words. It is an invaluable reference book and you can use it to improve the quality of your English and to avoid repetition in writing and speeches.

So, try using a few different words today. Learn More

21st to 22nd January

British Homing World Show

The British Homing World Show of the Year. Nothing to do with housing, it is the largest gathering of Pigeon Fanciers in the United Kingdom.  Learn More

25th January

Burn's Night

Burn's night and Burn's Suppers (nothing to do with burnt food) have been part of Scottish culture for over 250 years as a means of commemorating their best loved bard. Learn More

25th January

Death of a King

People dressed in 17th century costumes parade from St James' Palace to London's Banqueting house at 11.30am, where wreaths are laid outside in commemoration of the beheading of Charles I. Learn More

25th January

St Dwynwen's Day

This is the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine's Day. It commemorates Wales' patron saint of friendship and love.Learn More

Last Tuesday in January

Up Helly Aa

On the last Tuesday of January Shetland marks the Lerwick Up Helly Aa, a fire festival, featuring the ancient practice of burning a Viking galley as a sacrifice to the sun. There's a torch-lit parade of people dressed up as Vikings too, but don't, whatever you do, try to join in.

Throughout January

The January Sales

Thousands of people are expected to descend on the UK, especially London, over the coming days for the annual January sales. Bargain-crazy shoppers queue overnight, sometimes for days, some even spending their Christmas with thermos flasks and sleeping bags, ready to pounce on the bargain of the century. Learn More

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