Happy New Year! Perhaps it's my age but whenever anyone references Blue Monday, I immediately start singing the New Order song, rather than immediately thinking of the most depressing day of the year. However, this is the accolade given to the third Monday of January. You could argue that at least it gets it out the way early in the year! From my research it seems that you could also argue that it's a day made up in order to sell more holidays. They say it is calculated in relation to the darkness of January days, the post-Christmas lull and the length of time to pay day. I say, let's forget about blue (unless we are talking about lakes, rivers or seas) and concentrate on green. This is a GREAT time of year to have a Green Monday. There are already new shoots popping up from bulbs, pushing their way through sodden leaf mulch and muddy soil. Evergreens seems so much greener against the grey of January. Magnolia trees are in bud, fluffy cases enclosing the blooms to come. Catkins magically appear on trees, like decorations. I love this time of year, watching and waiting for snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses to show their faces. I have a new year ritual that means as soon as I see bunches of daffodils for sale in the shops, I buy some. I know some people would rather wait until it's officially Spring, but I say, that a glimpse of yellow amongst the winter decorations (yes I'm one of those people who keep fairy lights twinkling until at least Candlemas or Imbolc) is a positive reminder of what lies ahead, through these dark days of continued hibernation.
This year, blue Monday falls at the same time as the first full moon of the year, the Wolf Moon. There are various theories about why it's called the Wolf Moon, but perhaps because wolves were more vocal at this time of year as there was less food. The Gaelic word for January is Faoilleach and is derived from the word for wolves, faol-chù. At the back end of last year when I was preparing our advent calendar, I asked around the green volunteer network for ideas about how people connected to nature during the winter. My favourite response came from Peter from LanActive. I can't say it any better than he did, so I will just quote him:
In the late autumn and winter I love to go for a local walk down by the River Clyde when the moon is full!! Seeing the full moon emerging from brooding autumn clouds darting across the night sky, or the local fields and the ruins of Cambusnethan Priory by moonlight on a frosty winter evening is an absolute delight. I no doubt have a reputation of being that strange man who wanders around at the full moon but I do have a genuine and powerful connection with nature when I go for my nocturnal walks. Definitely an Autumn and Winter thing as the full moon isn't at all dramatic in the lighter evenings of Spring and Summer.
Even in the city I love to see the full moon, and always try to plan a walk around the time it is due to rise. I am probably known as the strange woman walking round the streets of Glasgow gasping at the moon. Better than howling at it anyway!
The Samaritans also decided that Blue Monday needed a rebrand and now promote Brew Monday as a day to have a cuppa and a catch up. Your friends at Get Outdoors Lanarkshire are never ones to turn down a cup of tea, and as usual we'd suggest that you take your hot drink of choice outside if you can, or to a window if you can't. Take a few minutes to tune into nature using your senses; what can you see, are there any buds or new shoots on the plants around you? Is there a smell of anything being carried on the breeze? Are the birds singing? How does the air (or the rain) feel against your skin? Is there anything to taste? On that last one, be careful what you put in your mouth, but hopefully you've got a nice cup of tea with you, so take the opportunity to really concentrate on the sensations in your mouth as you drink it. Bonus points for a herbal tea, especially if you grew the herbs yourself.
Don't let winter stop you getting outside and connecting to nature, it's even more important to get some natural light during these dark days, so make sure you have a green Monday.