1st January
New Year's Day

New Year's Day is a festival observed in most of the world on 1st January, the first day of the year in the modern Gregorian calendar

1st January
New Year’s Traditions and Celebrations Around the World

In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1. Worldwide, people enjoy meals, make resolutions and share gifts, helping to bestow good luck for the coming year.

In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success. In the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere, ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, are added to the feast. In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

In many English-speaking countries, customs include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne.”

1st January
The History of New Year's Day

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon heralded the start of a new year

They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu, celebrating the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat. It also served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.

The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days, according to tradition, it was created by Romulus, the founder of Rome. It wasn't until a later king, Numa Pompilius, added the months of Januarius and Februarius. Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by introducing the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the modern Gregorian calendar we use today.

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4th JanuaryWorld Braille Day

World Braille Day on January 4 is celebrated to honour the birth of Braille’s inventor, Louis Braille. Braille’s gift to the world has brightened the lives of millions of people around the world who are blind or visually impaired, and they benefit from his work every day. The day also acknowledges that those with visual impairments deserve the same standard of human rights as everyone else. 

The term ‘Braille’ was dubbed after its creator. Louis Braille was a Frenchman who lost his eyesight as a child when he accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with his father’s awl. From the age of 10, he spent time at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in France, where he formulated and perfected the system of raised dots that eventually became known as Braille.

Braille completed his work, developing a code based on cells with six dots, making it possible for a fingertip to feel the entire cell unit with one touch and moving quickly from one cell to the next. Eventually, Braille slowly came to be accepted throughout the world as the main form of written information for blind people. Unfortunately, Braille didn’t have the opportunity to see how useful his invention had become. He passed away in 1852, two years before the Royal Institute began teaching Braille.

The date for the even marks Louis Braille’s birthday. We love to see people coming together to celebrate events and good causes, and World Braille Day on January 4 is one such event!

African National Congress Foundation Day January 8th

African National Congress Foundation Day is observed on January 8 every year. On this day, the Africans fought for their rights with spears in their hand against British and Boer colonisers. The ANC considers this day as a struggle for freedom and justice. The goal of this day is to unite the  Africans and lead the battle for political, social and economic change

The African National Congress (ANC) is a social-democratic political party in South Africa. It has been in power since April 1994 and has been reelected every year since 2004. The unification of Africans and the defence of their liberties and rights were its main objectives.

The African National Congress was founded on January 8, 1912 by John Langelibalale Dube with the motive of eliminating apartheid and giving full voting rights to black South Africans and mixed-race South Africans. Even though it was formed in 1912, ANC’s road to governance was not easy.

In 1960, there was a ban on ANC after the Sharpeville massacre, causing the ANC to officially adopt violent techniques in 1961. As a result Nelson Mandela and other leadership figures were either sentenced to life imprisonment or forced to leave South Africa. With much of its leadership either jailed or exiled, the ANC went underground and began guerrilla activities from bases abroad. In 1990, the government lifted its ban on the ANC and other Black African organizations. The blacks of South Africa had another reason to rejoice – Mandela was released in the same year after more than 27 years in prison.

In 1994 the party swept the country’s first elections and Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black President. This saw the collapse of apartheid and the ushering in of new democratic rule in 1994. The party still governs to this day.

16th January

Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Day commemorates the birthday of American civil rights leader Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and celebrates his life, achievements and legacy.

King was hugely influential in the American Civil Rights Movement and was a major advocate of non-violent activism in the struggle for the end of racial discrimination under US law

Who was he?

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

was born on January 15, 1929

He was a Baptist minister and leader of the civil rights movement, championing justice and equality from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968

In 1955, he began his struggle to persuade the U.S. government to declare the policy of racial discrimination unlawful. He led the first large nonviolent demonstration against segregated buses. However, racists responded with violence to his nonviolent initiative.

On August 28, 1963, King directed a march of 250,000 demonstrators to Washington, D.C., where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was that the inhabitants of the United States would be judged by their personal qualities and not by the color of their skin:

Why do we celebrate it?

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

Martin Luther King - 1963

After King’s death, U.S. Representatives introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. When the bill first came to a vote, it fell five votes short of the number needed. There was claims that it would be too expensive and the holiday would be contrary to longstanding tradition, as King never held public office.

However, success was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single ‘Happy Birthday’ to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Six million signatures were collected for a petition for Congress to pass the law and is considered the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history.

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22nd January

Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, is an annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world that begins with the new moon which occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20. The year 2023 brings about the year of the Rabbit.

It celebration is deep rooted in mythology. Its origin story tells of a unicorn beast in ancient times in China. The unicorn was called NIAN (年 Year in Chinese) and was fiercely aggressive. It lived on the sea bottom but would go ashore to loot livestock and hurt people. Every year, when it was near the New Year’s Eve, the villagers, young and old, would escape into the bushes and hide themselves from the beast.

Once, there came an elderly man, who declared he had the magical power of fending off this beast. So one night when the beast appeared again, intending to loot the village, firecrackers suddenly went off from nowhere, explosive and noisy. Then came the elder in a red robe, laughing out loud.

Seeing this the beast became frightened and fled in embarrassment. From then on, every year the villagers would set off fireworks and decorate their homes with red materials. Gradually this has become a tradition to celebrate the New Year with noisy sounds and red décor.

24th January

Every year on January 24th, the International Day of Education celebrates the role of education in global peace and sustainable development.

Education is essential for many reasons. It provides knowledge and helps people better themselves and understand the world around them. Additionally, education paves the way for employment. Sadly, however, over 72 million children around the world do not have access to education.

International Day of Education is celebrated globally and seeks to raise awareness about the importance of education. This day is envisioned to promote gender equality, inclusivity, and poverty eradication through quality education and democratic participation. Education is an investment that holds power to transform the present into a sustainable future. When people do not receive education, the world, as a whole, misses out on creativity, ideas, and future leaders. 

This day is particularly special to us at Functional Skills UK, as we pride ourselves in being part of the team striving towards education access for all. We understand that access to education is a human right, vital not just for children, but for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. 


How has COVID made a difference?

When education got interrupted, and classrooms grew silent, the hope for education only grew immensely. Teachers and students were called to secure themselves in their homes and wait for further instructions. But that didn’t stop people from imparting education. When offline classes stopped, online learning emerged. Smartphones and computers became major sources for education and companies started developing apps so children can learn even from their homes.  Learning is now not confined to the four walls of a classroom; it has enhanced to something very dynamic.  

How to Participate:

  • Consider your own education and how it shaped you.
  • Discuss with others why education is so vital for children.
  • Give your children’s teachers a special treat.
  • Write a thank you note to educators you know.
  • Read about famous educators
  • Don’t forget to share this day on social media with #InternationalDayOfEducation.