Friday, 10 January 2014

Calendar of English Life and Months: January

My Calendar of English Life : January
January was instituted instead of March as the first month of the year in 153BC so it is Roman not Greek. It was named after Janus, the Roman god of transition and doors, who looks both ways. The Saxons called it "wolf month" and other etymologies meant "the coldest month". It contains mid winter on 15 January. In England, it is the coldest month and the third rainiest month, but not the darkest month, which is December. Its nights are the coldest nights, to chill those affected by winter winds and floods. January can be dominated by snow and polar winds. 

January is also a barren month. Nothing grows and much of Nature sleeps. January's 'life' is low, but revives by a winter fire :

Squirrels locate their hidden nuts, but most hibernating creatures are deep asleep underground. Meadows are flooded, trees fall and tempests roar against the coast. It is the month of blankets, books, recipes for winter food, thick woollen tights and boots, watching weather forecasts with a wary eye. One may feel like doing some home decorating, but fail to do it as the low, winter light is not good enough to test colour schemes. You plan and home cook and save, instead. January is not good for cross-country walks but it is the time for roaring fires in country pubs.  It is post-Christmas, cosy 'hibernation'.  The brain sleeps after a hot chocolate or evening cocoa.

Fashions:  fur, wool, cashmere
Colours: red, tartan, black
Style: warm and cosy, homemade or prehistoric...
Seasonal Foods: leek soup, beetroot, bubble and squeak and sweet potato chips and hollandaise sauce, whiting, rhubarb crumble, pork and sage, Jerusalem artichoke, brussels sprouts, celeriac and celery, grapefruit, roast parsnips and pear. For game and meat eaters: pork, lamb, venison sausages, bacon
Drinks: pear cider, beer, claret, hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Activities:  buying diaries, quizzes, crosswords, sitting by roaring fires, knitting and sewing, making fur accessories, reading, watching old films, reading last year’s diary, sitting in teashops, making and eating cake, counting pennies, eating chocolate, sleeping....

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