Is Blue Monday really a blue day?
Today is Blue Monday - supposedly the saddest day of the year.
We’ve chatted to quite a few people about it though - and it turns out that for a lot of them, Monday isn’t a blue day. More people said it’s yellow. 13% of people said it’s red. One person even said Monday looked like bubble wrap to them.
Of course, it doesn’t actually look like anything - it’s just a day. So why do so many people have strong feelings about it? It’s called synaesthesia (sin-ess-theez-iah). It’s where your brain mashes up different senses - crossing the wires between sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
Synaesthesia and a more colourful creative industry
One lunchtime, a couple of us were chatting in the studio, and had an argument over what colour the letter ‘S’ is (one says grass green, the other says orange). We realised we both had synaesthesia. The latest evidence suggests 1 in 23 people have it, but the word on the street is that it’s more common in the creative industries. We were curious about whether that’s true. To find answers, we spoke to Dr Julia Simner, Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex. She confirmed, “People with synaesthesia score higher in tests for creativity - so it’s unsurprising to me that so many creative professionals experience it”.
As a creative business, it got us thinking. As well as the creatives in our studio, we know a whole lot of other creative professionals, in our industry and beyond. Do they experience synaesthesia too? We reached out to them to find out - and answer the question: Is Blue Monday really a blue day?
Over 200 people gave us a look inside their minds. Here’s what we found.
Let’s start with Monday generally. Is it really a blue day of the week?
To some people, yes.
But to 80% of people we spoke to, no.
Turns out, more people think it’s yellow (we’ll admit, not by a massive margin). But still, ‘Yellow Monday’ sounds a lot sunnier to us.
Okay, but what about Blue Monday specifically?
Here’s how our survey respondents see it, letter by letter. What a rainbow!
5% of people we spoke to see Monday as a physical shape or texture
We spoke to artist’s assistant Jordan, who describes Monday is a 2D piece of grey felt. Does he see every weekday in a physical way? While he feels ‘little to nothing’ for Wednesday, he says Saturday is a big child’s drawing of the sun. And Tuesday is ‘a green triangular tree… but not a Christmas tree’. Intriguing to say the least.
There are over 80 types of synaesthesia
As it’s an involuntary mix-n-match of different senses, there’s an incredible number of ways people experience it. Some people, like singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, have a whole bunch of them: ‘Everything that I make, I'm already thinking of what colour it is, what texture it is, what day of the week it is, what number it is, what shape’.
You may have already chatted about it without realising there’s a name for it. Rob Castelino, Partnerships Manager at It’s Nice That, says, ‘We do get those conversations quite a lot at lunch, like that 6 is brown or orange. And everyone will either agree or disagree and say, “No! I think it’s this!”. It’s interesting when everyone has the same opinion though’.
We agree. But it’s also interesting when one person is neurologically rowing their own boat. Here are a few of our favourite commonalities and oddities we noticed in the data.
So maybe Blue Monday isn’t a blue day after all
But if you think it is, what shade of blue?
You can still tell us in our survey, we’d love to hear how you experience the world:
Synaesthesia is a clear reminder that a different perspective can enhance the world around us, and our creative community. On a cold day in mid-January, we think it’s fun to remember that everyday things are often more interesting than they seem - even Mondays.