Blue Mondays in January

The third Monday in January is known as Blue Monday. According to some scientists Blue Monday is the most depressing day of the year. It is cold and gloomy and the alarm rings well before sunrise. Christmas is long ago, the holidays are far away. And the new year’s resolutions turn out not to last. Although it is clear by now that Blue Monday was a fabrication for an advertising campaign, there is of course a grain of truth in it. I myself have tried to give it a positive spin this year.

The quay along the river Nieuwe Maas in Rotterdam on a rainy blue morning in January
Blue Monday by the riverside

The blue hour

This blog has a number of traditions. My favorite is probably the January expeditions. In the first weeks of the year I set the alarm a few times very early (at least by my standards) to take pictures of Rotterdam in the blue hour and at sunrise.

Usually I try to estimate the chances of a beautiful sunrise. Unfortunately, there is not much to say about that the night before, so I went terribly wrong a few times in recent years. A thick cloud cover on a morning that looked so promising. And the sunrise of the century on a morning that I absolutely did not expect so that I only caught the last bits of it.

Euromast, Puntegale and Machinist reflecting in the water of Coolhaven harbour on a blue monday before sunrise
Blue and other colors

Five Mondays

This year I’m doing it differently. I set the alarm five times, every Monday. And then see what comes of it. Since January has no fewer than five Mondays in 2023, I have just as many chances for a beautiful sunrise. That should work out.

The Nieuwe Maas river in Rotterdam with onder other side Zalmhaven tower and some lower buildings and a piece of Erasmus Bridge in the blue hour on a morning in January
Five chances for a beautiful sunrise

Monday 2 January – Sunrise: 8.47

On this first blue Monday, little can be expected from the sunrise. It rained all night. By the time I venture outside after having a cup of coffee and a cheese sandwich, it is dry, except for a few splashes. But it remains heavily clouded; we won’t see much of the sun today.

Lijnbaan shopping street in Rotterdam on a rainy morning before sunrise
Dry except for a few splashes


On the plus side, it is almost windless. And the temperature is spring-like. Disturbing in itself as supporting evidence for global warming. But today it is also practical because setting the camera with numb fingers is not necessarily fun.

The biggest bonus this morning, however, is that the streets are still wet after last night’s heavy rainfall. This produces beautiful reflections.

Coolsingel boulevard in Rotterdam with Christmas lights near the town hall on a rainy morning in january
Driving back to work after Christmas

Monday 9 January – Sunrise: 8.44

At first glance, the second blue Monday is very similar to the previous one. It has rained again and the pavement is shiny. And also today it is about ten degrees too warm for the beginning of January.

The big difference is that the rain doesn’t stop. That makes photographing difficult because one needs three hands to set up the camera and hold up an umbrella at the same time. And well-positioned shelters are scarce, even in the city.

Churchillplein square in Rotterdam on a rainy morning before sunrise
Shiny pavement


I can forget about a beautiful sunrise in this weather. Furthermore, my night’s sleep was not optimal and I have a pebble in my shoe. In short: this does not seem to be the best blue Monday in the series. The production is therefore somewhat disappointing.

The Spido tour boats, the Southbank developments and the underside of Erasmus bridge in Rotterdam on a rainy morning before sunrise
The Erasmus Bridge as a shelter

Monday, January 16 – Sunrise: 8:39 am

Today is “officially” Blue Monday. And the weather is certainly doing its utmost to make it a gloomy day. From the south, a large area of rain crosses the Netherlands. It is also a bit colder than on the previous Mondays and a bit windier. That makes shooting with an umbrella even more difficult.

I’m also getting a bit bored with the “shiny streets” theme. And the jet lag caused by the early alarm clock doesn’t make my mood any better.

A lot of bicycles near Rotterdam Blaak railway station on a rainy morning in January
Blaak station on Blue Monday


But I manage to spend my time usefully. Instead of photos I decide to make videos, with my phone. With some practice you can do this with one hand; I still need the other one for the umbrella. Pasted together, with some melancholic music added, that footage provides a nice impression of a somewhat depressing Blue Monday.

Blue Monday in Rotterdam

Monday 23 January – Sunrise: 8.32

The birds are looking forward to spring: when I go out the door I hear them twinkle enthusiastically in the park at the foot of the 3Develop Tower. Yet the temperatures do not indicate the imminent arrival of spring: it is just above freezing.

But I’m dressed for the cold. And what’s nice: there is little wind, so that promises reflective water surfaces. Furthermore, this is also the first blue Monday that it does not rain.

New neighbourhood Little C in Rotterdam, reflecting in the water of Coolhaven harbour on a blue Monday
Reflective water surface


I’m taking the bike today, to be able to cover longer distances. And so photogenic places such as the Coolhaven and the Lloydkwartier come within range. This produces aesthetically pleasing images of Little C neighbourhood, the Machinist building and Park Harbour. Unfortunately it is once again heavily clouded so there’s no beautiful sunrise today; blue dominates once more in today’s color palette.

Parkhaven harbour with the Maastunnel ventilation building and in the background the Wilhelmina Pier highrise during the blue hour on a January morning
Blue dominates

Monday 30 January – Sunrise: 8.22

The weather forecast kept me in a state of suspense for this last blue Monday in January. Some rain, some clouds, some sunshine. But when I get up, the weather app shows that both rain and clouds are moving away to the southeast.

When I leave the door shortly after seven o’clock there is not a cloud to be seen. And it already starts to get a little bit light, five quarters of an hour before sunrise.

Rijnhaven harbour in Rotterdam, with in the foreground the flaoting park and on the other side the Fenix1 building, during the morning twilight on a blue Monday in January
Dawn at Rijnhaven

The Windy City

Unfortunately there is a fairly strong wind, especially on the Southbank. I cycled there because that dynamic area has been missing in this series of Monday mornings so far. The gusts make it difficult to photograph with a tripod. Instead of shelter from rain, I now seek shelter from wind.

Fortunately, I manage to shoot a few nice pictures of Rijnhaven harbour and the river Nieuwe Maas with surrounding buildings. But there’s no hope for a colorful sunrise. Except for a single plane streak, the sky is cloudless and that makes it a bit boring.

Too many clouds, not enough clouds, it’s never right for you, is it, Mr Blok? Indeed, although it makes this Monday fit very nicely in the series, which after all is devoted to blue Mondays.

Wilhelminaplein in Rotterdam during the blue hour, with lighttrails from the morning rush hour, the metro entrance and some buildings including the court and the tax office
Morning rush hour on Wilhelminaplein

See you next year…

It must be said, though, that this year it would have made little difference if I had chosen Tuesdays, Wednesdays or other days for my expeditions. January 2023 was very wet, chilly and gray and that was not conducive to a colorful morning spectacle. I’m looking forward to January 2024; eleven more months to go…

January expeditions in other years: 20162019202020212022

Photo of Zalmhaven tower and vicinity in Rotterdam during the blue hour, in an old frame with broken glass
Next year more chances…

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2 Responses

  1. Biomedis says:

    How do you personally try to give a positive spin to Blue Monday, despite its reputation as the most depressing day of the year?

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