Have you become accustomed to writing 2020 yet?
I usually dread January. Once the New Year is celebrated, the sparkle of Christmas comes down, packed away for another year. The days are short, the nights are dark and it feels soooo long!
On a purely personal level, 2019 was a hard year and I was glad to see the back of it. Then 2020 started with news of the death of an extended family member. Dealing with the death of someone you care about is always difficult. When it happens at the end of the old year and the start of the new, it can be hard to see any light ahead. But Spring is only around the corner. Along with the news of a death, came the news of an impending birth. The circle of life continues. So, my new year’s resolution is to hug those I love a little tighter and more often this year.
January gets its name from Janus, the God of beginnings in Roman Mythology. New Year, New Beginning. Janus has two faces, one to look to the future and one to look at the past. For how do we know where we are going, if we do not know where we come from?
Think of all the new starts over the centuries, the new beginnings in the month of January.
On January 1st 1502 Portuguese explorers landed at Guanabara Bay on the coast of South America and named it Rio de Janeiro (River of January). Five hundred years later Brazilians still speak Portuguese although Brazil was never a colony.
On January 1st 1801 The Act of Union created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Amended in 1920 by the Government of Ireland Act, which partitioned our country.
On January 1st 1892 Eilis Island opened in New York harbour and over 20 million people were processed through its doors until it closed in 1954, 3.5million of them were Irish.
On January 1st 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was founded. The British first established a penal colony at Syndey Harbour in January 1788 with the arrival of eleven ships with 788 convicts onboard. How many of them were Irish?
On January 1st 1958 The EEC was formed by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxemburg and Netherlands and then on January 1st 1973 Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined their ranks leading to the launch of the Euro on January 1st 1999, although Britain held onto their sterling and at the end of January 2020 will leave the Eu forever.
Where you born in January? According to http://www.fatherly.com January babies are more likely to be famous because they are more creative and have superior problem-solving skills. People born in January include Elvis Presley 1935, Edmund Burke 1729, Martin Luther King 1929, Benjamin Franklin 1706, Muhummad Ali 1942, Mozart 1756 and Lewis Carroll 1832. Happy birthday to all you Capricorns and Aquarians.
Deaths in January included Queen Victoria 1909, Winston Churchill 1965 and Al Capone who bizarrely died from syphilis in Miami in 1947.
On this island, who can forget the massacre of Bloody Sunday, 30th January 1972 when fourteen innocent people were gunned down by British soldiers in Derry. That day led to countless more years of suffering and bloodshed and will forever be a black day in our history.
On a lighter note, New Years Day is the most celebrated holiday around the world and rightly so. On that day we have a full unblemished year ahead of us. A blank page where anything is possible. The first day of a new year, and this year, of a new decade. A day to be hopeful. A day to dream. A day to start again. Let’s make those hopes and dreams and new years resolutions sustain us through the darkness of January and February until the start of Spring and new life.