The TV informed me this morning that today was ‘Blue Monday’, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Apparently, this is the time when people’s mood is at its lowest of the whole calendar year, when people book holidays, and try to escape the drudgery of January in a rather cold and grey season.
And for us, it was no such thing. Because, today was a day to go Wassailing. Every seven years, ‘Blue Monday’ lines up with the 17th of January, ‘Old Twelfth Night’, or, historically the day when Wassailing the apple trees was performed.
So that is exactly what we did. We went out into the winter sun, and, gathering together in sacred space, we processed through the garden, making a right racket, waking up the spirits sleeping in the apple trees. We also recited rhymes to them, sprayed them with cider, and drank a little of it too. It was an afternoon of celebration and festivities, laughter and merriment. Afterwards, we (my family and a few friends) came indoors to have a hearty bring and share meal, by a roaring fire amongst the January decorations. Yes, we have January decorations: as the Christmas decorations get put away, similar – but subtly different decorations come out. Vases of Holly festooned with tiny, bright white fairy lights, the German wooden decorations, and the first signs of spring such as sprigs of Lambs Tail Catkins all come into play brightening our house and lifting our mood – not in the garish fashion of Christmas colour, but the cold brightness of iciness and sparkles of frost.
Just before we came indoors at dusk, a full moon was rising over the mountain, bathing the valley with a soft, golden glow – which later developed into a piercing silver gleam as moonlight reflected on the frost. This is Winter. Not the cosy winter of Christmas, but the piercing, icy chill of deep winter. Which is in its last throes before Spring becomes very clearly visible all around us.
This was a very special day – it had many of the attributes of a seasonal festival like Christmas – but with far less preparation, or stress. It brightened up our week, made our Monday, and, the only thing about it that was blue was the sky at dusk.
By decorating the house for January, and going wassailing, we do not miss the absence of Christmas – we looked forward to something else to celebrate and get in the mood for. The next celebration will be in a fortnight with Gwyl Forwyn, Imbolc, Candlemass – call it what you will.
In my opinion, we have far too few celebrations, festivals, and events in our modern calendar. By concentrating on a few – i.e. Christmas and Easter for most of us, we put far too much emotional loading onto them. Often leading to disappointment. We also tend to have very large gaps between festivals. If you look at the calendar of old and ancient Celtic and British celebrations, there was something to celebrate every couple of weeks. There was always something to look forward to just around the corner, even if it wasn’t a ‘big’ event, it was something to lift the spirits and engage us in social connection, and connection with the seasons and nature.
We need to return to this way of living, and celebrating. A celebration for every season, and a festivity for every fortnight. Or month. Either way, a lot more regularly than most of us observe these days.
May your days never be blue, and may merriment always follow you in your day to day lives!
And apologies, dear reader for the paucity of posts from me. A lot has been happening in life – well, that’s a different story altogether. But I do aim to reclaim my little corner of the internet and spout off here a little more regularly!