Fifteen years ago an ice cream brand invented Yellow Day. Science has been battling it ever since

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From the creators of ‘Blue Monday’, the saddest day of the year, now comes ‘Yellow Day’, the happiest. And the best is not that; not even all that happiness, optimism, fun and vitality that we are supposed to feel on a day like today. The best thing is how a marketing campaign for an ice cream brand from 15 years ago continues to creep into the televisions, radios and newspapers without showing an iota of skepticism. It’s time to say that the ‘Yellow Day’ is a scam and, moreover, a dangerous scam.


A gentleman named Cliff Arnall. In 2005, the travel agency Sky Travel released a press release saying that a team of scientists from Cardiff University had found that the third Monday in January was the worst day of the year. That was the origin of ‘Blue Monday’, a marketing campaign. Above all, because the “Cardiff University team of scientists” were one man: Cliff Arnall.

Cliff Arnall was a tutor at the Center for Lifelong Learning; a center effectively attached to Cardiff University, but dedicated to organizing supplementary courses, specialization diplomas and continuing education. Strictly speaking, he was not a university researcher and the success of ‘Blue Monday’ (added to the fact that he was methodologically nonsense) ended up expelling him from the University.

For this reason, six months later and in the hands of Helados Wall’s (the English Unilever brand equivalent to Frigo), he returned to the fray with ‘Yellow Day’. With this background, one can already fear the worst; but let’s give it a try. Does it make sense to talk about the happiest day of the year?

Blue Monday isn't the saddest day of the year, but it should be

The formula. As in the case of ‘Blue Monday’ (and as part of the commercial strategy of selling all this as a scientific question), Arnall published a formula to calculate said day. is this, O+(NxS)+Cpm/T+Heand its explanation is simpler than the formulation intends to imply.

  • The O stands for ‘outside’: it refers to the time when we spend more time outdoors and enjoy outdoor activities.

  • The N is for ‘nature’: for the supposed connection we live with the environment these days.

  • The S is for ‘socialize’: because it’s time to meet up with friends and family.

  • The ‘CPM’ is from ‘children positive memories’: that is, the childhood memories of this same season.

  • The T is for ‘temperature’: because it gets warmer with the progressive arrival of summer.

  • The He is for ‘holidays’: because of the proximity of the holidays.

The first conclusion, of course, is that ‘Yellow Day’ is only June 20 in the northern hemisphere, but that’s just a detail. The question goes further: the sooner we inspect it, the more we realize that this series of days has no scientific basis. It can be perfectly applied what dean burnett said in 2012 about his blue brother: “[es] unscientific. pseudoscientist. Uber pseudoscientist. It’s gibberish, nonsense, rubbish, crap and any other polite way of saying ‘idiocy’ you can think of.”

And not because these things have not been studied. In fact, although we have not found serious attempts to determine the happiest or saddest day of the year, there is quite a bit of research on how the days of the week influence mood of people. But Arnall ignores all that and, beyond an exterior patina, he does not even pretend to come close to anything remotely resembling scientific research. The ‘Yellow Day’ is what he intends and little more: a campaign to sell ice cream.

An unlucky campaign. The problem is that, unlike ‘Blue Monday’, which may have some role in the ‘normalization of sadness’ as something typical of everyday life, ‘Yellow Day’ rains on wet. In recent years, books and materials have not stopped appearing against the obligation to be happy. In fact, before the pandemic, headline inflation was quite large (perhaps too much).

However, they are partly right. Clinical evidence supports that interpretations (often culturally shaped) that we give to our behavior has a key role in the development and maintenance of psychological disorders. Delving into the idea that happiness is a “decision” does nothing more than deepen in schemes that favor mood disorders.

vindicate the sadness. And at this point, we realize that it’s not just about challenging depressive overdiagnosis and improving the ways we deal with mood disorders, but about reclaiming sadness as normal; to fight against that “obligation to be happy”. Ultimately, sadness has an evolutionary function that promotes updating our cognitive structures and allows us to adapt to profound changes in our environment, eliminating it could be a mistake. “It would be, if you will allow me the expression, not letting the wounds heal and that, no matter how many painkillers we take, leaves marks on a personal and social level.”

Image | Lidya NOTHING

From the creators of ‘Blue Monday’, the saddest day of the year, now comes ‘Yellow Day’, the happiest. And the…

From the creators of ‘Blue Monday’, the saddest day of the year, now comes ‘Yellow Day’, the happiest. And the…

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