A Case of the Mondays


I understand that the day before yesterday was Blue Monday, the saddest day of the year. Well, at least that’s what an advertising campaign from a British travel agency called Sky Travel says. There was some nonsensical equation used to support the third Monday in January being particularly depressing; it looks to me to have been a pretty obvious joke, but apparently some people took it seriously.

In what units is motivation measured?
The guy credited with the campaign, Cliff Arnall, refers to himself as a psychologist, life coach, and happiness consultant; I don’t know whether he actually has a degree in psychology, but at one point he was referred to as a Cardiff University psychologist due to his having taught some adult education classes there, which isn’t quite how it works. He also now regrets his association with the concept. January and Monday are both frequently seen as sad, largely because they’re both about as far as you can get from future time off. Remember, the company that came up with this was British, so the fact that the third Monday of January tends to be a day many Americans get off for Martin Luther King’s birthday, as well as around a month before Presidents’ Day, isn’t all that relevant. It’s also when we get some of the most frustrating weather here in the northeastern United States. So it makes a certain amount of sense, but it’s obviously not universal. What I thought was weird, however, was that a Google search for “Blue Monday” gives mostly information about this particular concept, even though it only dates back to 2005, and the term is obviously much older. “Goodbye Blue Monday” is the subtitle to Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, and the book itself explains that the term came to be associated with laundry, but that wasn’t its original meaning. I was reminded when I read it of Monday Mountain in Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Grampa in Oz, which is blue in color despite being located in the yellow Winkie Country, and inhabited by women who spend most of their time washing clothes.

Monday as the day for washing seems to have started in the nineteenth century, and this was an all-day process in the times before automatic washing machines.

Tuesday was then for ironing and Wednesday for mending, but I’ve seen different chores assigned to the other days of the week. Sunday, of course, was when nobody was supposed to work. Apparently the Posies did their washing on Saturdays.

Does that song remind anyone else of XTC’s “Earn Enough for Us”? I always thought so. Anyway, the association between laundry and the color blue was likely because of the common use of laundry bluing on white fabrics.

In Grampa, Percy Vere describes Monday Mountain as “as blue as blueing.” This Paris Review article cites an encyclopedia as saying the original connection between blue and Mondays was a sixteenth-century custom of decorating churches with blue on the Monday before Lent, which this year will be 12 February for Western churches. This can’t fall in January, as the earliest Ash Wednesday can be is 4 February. Later, however, the name Blue Monday came to be more closely associated with the custom of tradespeople to go out drinking on Mondays, and the blue was that of bruises from the resulting fisticuffs. So there doesn’t appear to be any one standard definition, but it’s a pretty consistent idea that Mondays are sad.

Day names with colors in them are always kind of weird. I mean, Black Friday is when retailers go into the black, which means they’re making money, while Black Tuesday was when the stock market crashed and a lot of people LOST large sums of money. And “Black Wednesday” is apparently the only Carl Barks Duck comic that was never reprinted in the United States.

And none of them have anything to do with Black History Month!

This entry was posted in Advertising, History, Holidays, Language, Music, Oz, Oz Authors, Places, Ruth Plumly Thompson, Urban Legends and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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