Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day across Canada

St. Patrick's Day, Guiness
This year, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be held across Canada as a time honoured tradition since 1824. Toronto and Montreal hold the largest and longest-running parades and festivals in Canada; as we drink green beer and wear green clothes, have we ever thought about the man behind the namesake holiday and where and how these traditions came to be?

Contrary to popular belief, Saint Patrick was actually an Irish missionary born in Wales, Great Britain. Although he spent much of his early life in Britain, during the Roman Empire no less, he was kidnapped at age 16 by Irish pirates and sold into a 6-year slavery stint in Ireland. After escaping and a short time back at home in Wales, he returned to Ireland as a bishop to expand his teachings about bringing together traditions of the old pagan and new Christian religions. Even though Patrick lived during the 4th and 5th centuries, he didn’t become known as a Saint until about the 7th century, which marked the beginning of his large and celebrated following on the anniversary of his death on March 17th.

Canada’s Irish population predominately lives in the eastern part of Canada as it was difficult for the poor immigrants to travel very far past the coast. The immigrants from Ireland were actually the founders of Irish celebrations in North America, and, thus, were born the origins of the celebrations as we know them today.

St. Patrick's Day, Guiness

Eco-friendly vegetable dye is poured into the Chicago River to turn it emerald green for St. Patrick’s Day.

A few fun facts and how some celebrate the holiday today:

– Canada is home to about 4,544,870 people claiming to have Irish blood.

– In Chicago, about 45 pounds of green vegetable dye has been dumped into the Chicago River for the past 40 years but it only lasts a few hours.

– Guinness, the iconic Irish beer, expects to sell 7.5 million pints on St. Patrick’s Day – almost twice what it sells on a standard day.

– In Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer is illuminated green.

St. Patrick's Day, Guiness

Fight Those January Blues

Sad DogMisery is expected to peak the third Monday in January (Monday, January 20, 2014) being that it’s the “most depressing day” of the year. (Note: you can say things like “is expected to” if one person expects it to be true.)

That one person is Cliff Arnalls of Wales, who created the formula to determine the worst day of the year. (Note: if you can find someone who agrees with him, we can say: “Researchers agree…”)

bluemonday2

whereby…

W = weather
D = debt
d = amount of January pay check
T = time since Christmas
Q = amount of time since failure to quit bad habit
M = motivational levels
NA = the need to take action

Even though the shortest day of the year is December 21st, the weather continues getting colder throughout the month of January. In fact, in the ancient Roman calendar, the year originally started in March and ended in December. The months of January and February were just one big shapeless clump of days, as the calendar was used mainly for agricultural purposes and was based on lunar cycles rather than solar.  In the 700s BC, January and February were “created” to fill in the gap.

By a couple weeks into the new year, the energy of the holidays has long dissipated, folks have failed all or most of their resolutions, and their bank accounts are still empty.

Of course, this is just a theory — one that has been dismissed by many. But if you do feel down around this time of the year, not all hope is lost. Experts may have found the most depressing day out of 365, but they have also found a number of ways to combat the accompanying feelings of depression.

To lighten the mood during Blue Monday or whenever all seems overwhelming, try these helpful tips:

exerciseGet out and exercise

Staving off the blue can be achieved in many cases with proper exercise and diet. In addition to improving a person’s self-image, exercising regularly releases feel-good chemicals in the body. Physical activity also increases body temperature which creates a calming sensation and reduces the release of stress hormones and other certain chemicals which can make symptoms of depression worse. Use Blue Monday to go out for a jog, play with your pups, or do a 20-minute round at the gym!

Be social

Celebrate Blue Monday with friends and family. Individuals who spend at least two hours a week interacting with others experienced less intense symptoms of depression compared to people who remained isolated. So if you are feeling down, make an effort to find some company!

Get Out of BedTake things one step at a time

For serious bouts of the blues, keeping things simple may be one of the best answers to fighting off Blue Monday. Instead of thinking about all the things you have to do, just focus on the task at hand. First, focus on getting out of bed. Once that task has been accomplished, focus on getting dressed, eating breakfast and getting ready for the day. By keeping things simple, you can feel a sense of accomplishment with each small task.

Keep up with a hobby

It makes sense that doing something you enjoy boosts mental health, and keeping up with a hobby has a positive impact even on patients with major depressive disorders. The use of hobbies to combat depression was primarily used by researcher Viktor Frankl, who created a psychotherapeutic technique called logotherapy. This form of therapy used hobbies and enjoyable activities to help refocus depressed individuals on what they felt was the meaning of life. Having a purpose, such as caring for a pet, helped bring patients back into a productive daily routine.

Do not fall victim of the hype

Who is to say your day has to be a bad one? Remember, you have control over your emotions and thoughts.

Helpful TipsTips for making it through Blue Monday:

“Have a party and celebrate” – Jack Gilbert, Ontario, Canada

“Exercise and bibliotherapy” — Dr. Alan Cohen, Royal College of General Practioners

“Watch the film ‘The Sound of Music’” — Ketan Shah, Harrow, England

“Move to New Zealand… It’s summer!” – Oliver, Auckland, New Zealand

Thank you, New Zealand, for rubbing that in.

Note: make sure to visit Sandman’s Facebook Page on Monday, January 20, 2014 for a giveaway that is sure to cure your Monday or January blues!