January and Wellbeing
It’s that time of year when the festive celebrations are over, and the promise of spring still seems quite far away. January is often the time when many of us start to feel the winter blues which is why it is increasingly important to be kind to yourself and look after your mental health.
While the short winter days and cold weather can sometimes make it less appealing to adventure outdoors, there are benefits to wrapping up warm and heading outdoors to experience the smells and sounds of the winter. Small things such as the feeling of crunch of snow underfoot, spotting a robin on a tree branch, or stopping to admire beautiful patterns created by frost can all bring a little joy and help to boost spirits.
Thriving with Nature – a guide for everyone was published by the Mental Health Foundation to help readers find ways of connecting with nature throughout the year. The guide contains creative and straightforward suggestions for activities to help engage with nature and encourage you to get outdoors regardless of whether you live in the centre of a city or out in the countryside.
The Library has several books on nature and the benefits it can have on our health within the Shelf Help collection:
Braving the wilderness: the quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone by Brené Brown.
The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell
Into the forest: how trees can help you find health and happiness by Qing Li
Don’t forget, ENGAGE Fitness at Edinburgh Napier University provides a performance gym, fitness suite and sports hall at the Sighthill campus for those days when you don’t want to exercise outdoors. A student trimester pass is available for only £55!
Search the Library more nature or fitness-related printed or online resources on LibrarySearch.
Read more on wellbeing in our section Wellness Collection, full of useful and interesting books or take some time out in our Online Relaxation Zone
The Timkat Festival
Christmas is a distant memory for most of us, but for Ethiopians, Christmas is a whole season that’s just coming to an end now. Ethiopia was one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity, and as such it adheres to the ancient traditions that sit at the heart of its Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Timkat, celebrated every year on the 19th of January, is one of those traditions, possibly the most important in the Church’s calendar.
The Amharic word timkat means “baptism”, and the festival marks the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan.
Timkat is a huge deal and a seriously religious festival. Preparations for this spectacular event, possibly one of the biggest and most colourful on the African continent, begin on the 18th, when “tabots” – models of the Ark of the Covenant – are wrapped in fine cloths and carried on the heads of priests down to the river or other place of worship. Local people don white shawls – Ethiopians wear white when they go to church – and follow the procession.
Mass starts in the early hours of the 19th and continues for hours. When Mass is over, the water is blessed and the congregants take to the rivers, submerging themselves in a re-enactment of Christ’s baptism. Of course, it’s a happy occasion and that means the celebrations go on all day and are accompanied by feasting and music. As well as eating their favourite Timkat food, Ethiopians celebrate important occasions with elaborate coffee ceremonies.
On the 20th, the tabots are carried back to the churches in another procession that marks the end of the festival.
One of the best places to observe Timkat is the town of Gondar, home to the 17th century castle built by King Fasilides. In the grounds of the castle is a huge open-air bath. The bath is usually empty, but during Timkat it’s filled with water and the locals dive in. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Ethiopia over the festive season. I missed Timkat by a couple of weeks. When I visited King Fasilides castle it was empty. Next time I go, I’m definitely going for Timkat, and I’m taking my swimming costume.
Want to learn more about other traditions from around the world? Read our article here.
By Lesley McRobb