21st January 2019
Blue Monday is upon us. Of course, January couldn’t be a more fitting month to house the most depressing day of the year, but it got us thinking. Surely one, unassuming January Monday can’t be burdened with a title such as the ‘most depressing day of the year’. Rather sets you up for failure, does it not?
Unsurprisingly, Blue Monday is a concept unique to the Northern Hemisphere and is based on an equation (starting to make sense, maths certainly makes me blue) which takes into consideration the weather, the time since Christmas, debt levels, low motivation levels and failed New Years resolutions. Perhaps we’ve largely brought this on ourselves.
But this left us intrigued. Why does the colour blue have such depressing connotations?
Turns out, Westerners are the only ones to view the colour blue in this way. And even when it doesn’t mean ‘sadness’, we ‘turn the air blue’ with foul language, or in Germany, ‘blau sein’, which translates ‘to be blue’ actually means to be drunk. Both of which could be symptomatic of being sad.
So, on this, the most depressing day of the year, let us explore the world for a little pick me up and uncover the many, many, contradictory connotations of the colour blue.
In countries such as Turkey, Greece, Iran, Afghanistan and Albania, the colour blue adorns eye-shaped amulets used to ward off evil and people wear them as jewellery or hang as a talisman in their homes. It protects the wearers from envious stares, perhaps inspired by a bout of your own good fortune or success, which in turn manifests into a more insidious curse intent on undoing that good fortune.
In Hinduism, blue is the colour of Krishna, an important deity whose skin is the hue of this complex colour. Krishna embodies love and divine joy and destroys pain and sin.
Which is not too far removed from the connotations the colour blue has within Judaism. The colour of the sky represents divinity, love and joy, which could be why it’s found in the Israeli flag (in fact, 51% of flags contain the colour blue).
In Latin America, you’ll often see the colour blue wrapped around the head and body of none other than the Virgin Mary herself, which has got to be a good thing right? Of course! This largely Catholic region sees blue as a sign of hope, good health and wealth.
Now to the East, to really turn things on their head. The colour is commonly associated with immortality, but in Korea, dark blue is the colour of mourning. This also goes for Iran and Mexico (but, hold on, doesn’t it also represent protection from evil and good health in those places? I guess there are many shades of blue, but you can see why this might get confusing).
If you’ve always associated the colour blue with that of baby boys, think again. In China, switch these gender-specific colours up, because blue is actually the colour of femininity here.
Blue is also associated with calm, peace, freedom and cleanliness.
In Jodhpur, the ‘Blue City’, they paint the walls of the buildings blue to keep the inside of the house cool in the sweltering heat. In Morocco’s Chefchaouen, it’s said that blue walls ward off mosquitoes, who think the picturesque city is the sea and so avoid for fears of drowning (we assume).
So, you see, blue has lots of good connotations. Today can mean the most depressing day of the year if you wish it to be, or it could be the healthiest day of the year, the day in which you have the most protection from those that wish you ill-will. Perhaps today you’re mourning the death of a loved one or celebrating the birth of a little baby girl.
I think the best thing to take away from this day is, Blue Monday is whatever you make it.
But if it’s too late for that, hold out till the happiest day of the year, which falls between 21st to the 24th June. Or book a holiday and leave the Northern Hemisphere behind for a while.