The Happiest Time of the Year


We keep reading that someone has done the maths and found the third Monday in January to be the most depressing day of the calendar year.

So which day is the happiest?

According to Gallup, the happiest day of 2008 was … Nov. 27, with 67 percent of Americans reporting that they had “a lot of happiness/enjoyment without a lot of stress/worry” on that day.

Gallup’s mood index tends to peak during weekends and trough during the week.

By the numbers, the national mood spikes on holidays (Christmas was a close second to Thanksgiving last year, with Easter and the Fourth of July trailing).

That makes sense — Freakonomics readers know that human contact is the most addictive thing around, and holidays are when most of us get our biggest fix.

One day that didn’t show any unusual movement in the national mood: election day, Nov. 4. So much for the idea that voting makes you happier.

So how about that supposedly joyless third day in January? By Gallup’s numbers, it wasn’t so bad after all. Actually, Jan. 21 was a full 13 points happier than the gloomiest day of 2008 — Dec. 11, the day new jobless claims jumped to a 26-year high.


I didn't realize people were so unhappy on MLK day.


I doubt the third Monday in January will be a sad day for many Americans this year.

Steven Peters

I'm getting married on that day this year. Hopefully that will pull things up a little bit for the people attending. I'll certainly be happy!


third monday in january = MLK day this year...


its also Bush's last full day in office!


This whole third Monday in January thing is a load of nonsense dreamt up by Dr Cliff Arnall as part of a media campaign by British travel company, Sky Travel.

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog has the low-down on Arnall and his nonsense equations:

Eric M. Jones

Q: What do they call the lowest scoring graduate in medical school? A: Doctor. So much for Dr. Arnall.

The Gallup Mood Index seem to have the skinny on this...moods are up and down over a narrow range. The holidays seem to give a liitle sugar boost, but nothing much happens.

I once decided to move to a place (in the US) where people were happiest, which I crudely determined to be at the lowest suicide rate. But I found that the suicides were highest in all the fun places--NY, LA, SF....and lowest in the boring places I never wanted to live. Cheeeeze....

Justin James

Hey, 11/27 is my birthday. :)



I suspect that although the average happiness on Nov. 4 didn't increase, the variance and standard deviation both skyrocketed.


1/19 is my birthday, and it's also a holiday this year, and it's also a day before a historic inauguration. I think it'll be a happy day for me.


The only day worse than Jan 19 will be Jan 20.

Anand Bala

Sounds like the Youre Okay - I am not so Okay principle.

The day after the Mumbai attacks - Americans felt happier because they felt safer that all this blood shed was happening at the other end of the planet.

Makes sense?



When there's peace on earth, good will towards everyman, woman and child.

Hence, when the idea that it can't happen in my back yard is grasped and the real idea behind due dilegence is grasped.