January is “the worst time of year” to be giving things up and should instead be celebrated as 'Long Christmas', journalist Melanie McDonagh has argued.
For many people, 1st January means New Year’s resolutions and a new era of self-improvement.
A booze-free ‘Dry January’ has become especially popular in recent years but Ms McDonagh believes people should be indulging themselves, not depriving themselves of anything, at the height of winter.
“It’s not just exhausting, it happens at the worst time of year,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
“This is the most [unsuitable] time of year to be giving up drink.
“Nobody wants to be giving up drink in January and nobody wants to be giving up carbs in January.
“Nobody wants to be giving up meat in January. This is not the time for abstinence.
“It’s cold, it’s bleak, it’s miserable.
“What you need is the consolations of the table and this notion that abstinence starts with the New Year is just all wrong.”
Traditionally, Lent was the time to give things up in order to honour the sacrifice of Jesus who fasted for 40 days in the desert.
In a more secular age, it seems that January is now the season to abstain and Ms McDonagh believes this is a mistake.
“All the old disciplines like giving up meat and dairy have now actually been appropriated from Lent to January instead,” she said.
“This is taking abstinence from a time when it’s just about bearable to a time when it’s unbearable.
“Because Lent is March/April and in spring the days are getting longer and it’s getting slightly warmer.
“You’ve got the stirring of new life out there. It’s a more cheerful time of year.”
Instead, her advice is to treat what is often the wettest and grimmest month as an extended form of ‘Long Christmas’ - with all the joy and indulgence that comes with it.
“Enjoy the moment, enjoy the season, huddle around the fire, have a good time because this is effectively Long Christmas," she said.
"Just be good to yourself for this season - which is still celebratory in a kind of minor key.”
Main image: Pints.