15 January 2020

January 2020: Key Dates and Cultural Events this month


Every month this year we will be sharing more details about the key dates and cultural events coming up in the weeks ahead. By keeping track of upcoming events and holidays, you can work around the holidays celebrated by your overseas colleagues – and with a bit of forward planning, you can acknowledge and honour your colleagues’ holidays, too.

To help you plan your cultural calendar and boost your understanding of cultural, religious and community-focused events around the world, check out our at-a-glance 2020 calendar here; if you are more interested in the details of the cultural events for January, then read on.

Starting the Year in Style – New Year’s Day (1 January)

New Year’s Day deserves an honourable mention, because the new year’s resolutions people make in January often appear from New Year’s Day onwards. Some people even manage to make their resolutions last all year! Language learning might be at the top of some people’s lists – and if so, this may even fit with the strategic plans for your business. Regardless, it is a good time of year to check in with your colleagues about their professional aspirations and goals – you may be able to help each other.

Christmas Around the World – Epiphany and Coptic/Eastern Orthodox Christmas (6/7 January)

Just because the mince pies have been polished off and the festive spirit seems to have left the building, it does not mean that Christmas is over. Three Kings’ Day (known as ‘Día de Reyes’ in Mexico), or the Feast of the Epiphany, is a Christian feast that marks the twelfth night after Christmas when the three kings arrived in Bethlehem to recognise Jesus as the Son of God. Western Christians focus their celebrations on the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the magi (the ‘three kings’), while Eastern Christians celebrate the later baptism of Jesus and his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.

Christmas itself is enjoyed a little later in the diary by Coptic and Eastern Orthodox Christians because they base their celebration dates around the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar. Coptic Christmas (7 January) is a public holiday in Egypt, and Eastern Orthodox Christmas is a public holiday on the same date in Russia, Georgia, Montenegro and Serbia, among others.

A Classic Combination of Haggis and Poetry – Burns Night (25 January)

Robert (or ‘Rabbie’) Burns, the Scottish poet, is a national treasure in Scotland. Every year, Scots and poetry lovers gather to celebrate this talented icon with food, drink and merriment.

Burns is a famous inspiration for musicians and writers, and his world-famous new-year-welcoming song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is one of the most popular songs in the English language. To find out more about what makes Robert Burns so special to the Scottish, check out these 20 facts about Robert Burns.

Expect to consume Scotch Whisky, haggis, ‘neeps’ (turnips) and ‘tatties’ (potatoes) as part of your Burns Night celebrations. For some modern yet quintessentially Scottish ways to spice up your Burns night fare, visit Scotland.org.

Introducing the Year of the Rat – Chinese New Year (25 January)

Chinese New Year begins on the 25th January and is celebrated until the 4th February in 2020. It is an 11-day celebration, so you can expect that your Chinese colleagues will keep the office firmly closed for at least a week.

Preparations for the new year can begin as early as the 17th January, and the Chinese New Year festivities are then followed by a Lantern Festival. This is a very festive time in China, where the new year celebrations are also symbolic of spring and renewal.

2020 is the Chinese Year of the Rat. People born in ‘rat years’ (such as 1960, 1972, 1984 and 1996) are thought to be optimistic, energetic and liked by all. Click here to find out more about the Year of the Rat.

More New Year Festivities – Vietnamese Tet (25 January)

The 25th could be a quiet day in the office if you have Chinese or Vietnamese clients or colleagues, because when Chinese New Year is on its way, the Vietnamese are also looking to welcome in the new year through the Tet festival.

Tet is closely linked to Chinese New Year festivities because both are celebrated according to the Lunar New Year, meaning they share the same start to the year (other Asian countries, such as Korea, also start their new year on the same day). In Vietnam, the Tet festival is also a week-long holiday, so expect an out-of-office email from much of Asia from the 25th!

Cross-Cultural Understanding Is Key to Business Success

Wherever you or your clients are based, knowledge of local cultural, religious and community-focused events can help you to build bridges with your contacts and understand their priorities. When you forge deep and respectful connections, you can conduct future business in a way that may lead to mutually beneficial outcomes.

If you would like to find out more about the cross-cultural training we offer, or you would like to tailor a language learning programme to support your business’s objectives, please contact us today.

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