November is an appalling month – my least favourite time of the year.
The clocks have gone back by an hour meaning that it is dark when you get up in the morning, and dark when you get home in the evening. If you spend your daylight hours in the office park hell of County Dublin, then this can be a tad soul destroying.
A chill is in the air, and this is just a portent of worse things to come.
There is an inkling that this is just the beginning – that winter is going to be your companion for the next four or five months. Unless you are particularly savvy, and have bought a sun getaway for January, you just know you’ll have a damp chill in your bones for a long time to come.
December has Christmas/New Year/Winter solstice to alleviate the sense of drear. It’s no coincidence that Christmas is at the end of December – the darkest most miserable time of year. Christmas was placed in December on purpose. At the exact same time as the pagan winter solstice celebration – the predecessor of Christmas. It happens at this time as it is when people are most in need of a bit of cheer. The early Christians knew that to abolish the winter solstice – a much needed relief in the season of dark – and not to replace it, would have made the Christian converts suspicious and resentful. So the heathen festival was replaced with the Christian one. Both served the same purpose – to cheer people up.
However in November, that festive season is still a distance away. And if relentless advertising for Christmas makes you feel nauseous and cantankerous, then this is not the month for you.
This dull sense of foreboding in the first week of November recurs every year. And the month gets progressively more miserable.
There’s a name for this – it’s called S.A.D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder – and it’s very common – particularly the further north in the world you go.
I know that it’s only temporary and it is caused by lack of sunlight.
This year I plan to haul my carcass outside for twenty minutes every lunchtime. I may also invest in one of those Scandinavian light boxes which beams high intensity light around your house for half an hour, to trick your body into thinking it is summer.
And I visit Amsterdam in early December.
It is worth a try. Anything to combat the dull nothingness of November