Christmas is over; the New Year doesn’t arrive until Saturday. And so begins perhaps the single strangest time of the year, a period of suspended animation, waiting for the calendar page to turn.
Also known as the “holiday taint,” the period between Christmas and New Year’s is a liminal one, thanks in no small part to the modern approach to Christmas. In the Middle Ages, Christmas Day actually kicked off a stretch of celebrations, hence the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which refers to the period between Christmas Day and Epiphany on January 6. But the holiday’s center of gravity has long since shifted to children and the gifts they on the morning of the 25th—and such a huge chunk of the American economy is organized around that moment that it effectively fries the entire country’s circuits. The national end-of-year schedule is warped around the holiday, even for those who don’t celebrate. That leaves a stretch of several days where the year is effectively already over, but it’s not technically over. You know, like the last 20 minutes of a Lord of the Rings movie.
The decorations everywhere are tattered, but they’re still hanging in there. Nobody’s starting any hugely ambitious projects; the clock doesn’t start for New Year’s resolutions until the morning of January 1. Stores are marking down whatever’s left lying around and trying to unload it. Offices are often closed, and if they’re open, who’s actually getting much done, anyway? Not to mention the feeling is particularly acute this year when Omicron disrupted so many people’s holiday celebrations. Even if you’re going somewhere, doing something, the whole mood is sluggish. Hence: Slug Week.
This period is best spent sitting around on the couch, watching whatever happens to come on television at whatever odd hours and developing extremely strong opinions about TV shows from the early 2000s, or perhaps a strange depth of knowledge about oceans thanks to nature documentaries. It’s a time for leftovers and polishing off whatever sweets are still in your pantry and eating cereal for dinner. If you’re sitting on a haul of new books, now’s the time to pick up the biggest genre doorstopper; if you’re not, it’s a great opportunity to explore the fluffiest heights of your library’s digital borrowing offerings.
And so, in honor of this completely pointless, but also strangely restorative stretch of time, Jezebel is running a series of strongly-held takes and investigations that fit the vibe. Cross your fingers for 2022.