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(44,525 posts)
Tue Dec 28, 2021, 02:55 AM Dec 2021

All Hail Dead Week, the Best Week of the Year

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is a time when nothing counts, and when nothing is quite real.


Christmas is over and we have arrived at the most wonderful time of the year—nominally still the holidays, but also the opposite of a holiday, a blank space stretching between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when nothing makes sense and time loses its meaning. For many of us, this is the only time of year when it feels possible, and even encouraged, to do nothing. I look forward to it all year long.

The time from December 26 until the afternoon of December 31 is generally considered part of “the holidays.” Kwanzaa, and very occasionally Hanukkah, falls during this period. But for many of us, whether still celebrating holidays or having just finished Christmas festivities, this week is like a long hangover. To some degree, I think all of society feels a little aimless during these few days. We’re waiting for the new year, with all its resolutions and hopes for starting over, but we’re not quite done with the old one. In between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one is this weird little stretch of unmarked time. For most people, this week isn’t even a week off from work, but at the same time it also isn’t a return to the normal rhythm of regular life. Nobody knows what to do with this leftover week, awkwardly stuck to the bottom of the year. I call it “Dead Week,” a time when nothing counts, and when nothing is quite real.

The British call this week “Boxing Week,” an extension of the more formal holiday Boxing Day, on December 26. Boxing Day is an older tradition that may stem from wealthy families giving presents to their household staff the day after Christmas; in its current form, it is a day to box up and get rid of extra stuff, or regift unwanted gifts. Boxing Week has become an excuse for Black Friday–type sales and the accumulation of more stuff. In Norwegian, Dead Week is known as romjul, a word that combines the Norse words for “room” or “space” and Jul, or “Yule”; it literally means “time and space for celebrating the yuletide.” But it also echoes the Old Norse word rúmheilagr, which means “not adhering to the rules of any particular holiday.” The week has neither the religious gravity of Christmas nor the flat-out party atmosphere of New Year’s Eve, but is stuck halfway between one and the other. Dead Week is a holiday without expectations, which are how we usually understand holidays. Romjul traditions include general holiday activities such as partying, eating a lot, visiting family, and resting.

American culture doesn’t have an official name for this time (though maybe Dead Week will catch on), but we celebrate it all the same, by eating cheese and cake for breakfast, getting drunk at inappropriate hours, not looking at calendars or clocks, forgetting what day it is, wearing outfits that make no sense, ignoring our phones, and falling into a pointless internet rabbit hole for hours. Lots of people have either just returned from family visits or are still there, stuck in the half-familiarity of being an adult in the spaces of childhood. We celebrate Dead Week by having no idea what to do during Dead Week and, within that confusion, quietly luxuriating in what might be the only collective chance for deep rest all year.

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All Hail Dead Week, the Best Week of the Year (Original Post) Celerity Dec 2021 OP
i always thought "boxing day" had something to do with boxing (as in gloves, punches, etc) orleans Dec 2021 #1
No, it comes from Christmas boxes for tradespeople and servants Celerity Dec 2021 #2
mmmm I haven't had those days off in decades Skittles Dec 2021 #3
Precisely Sherman A1 Dec 2021 #4
This is a really privileged perspective. WhiskeyGrinder Dec 2021 #5
I was thinking that as well. jimfields33 Dec 2021 #6
Maybe I can read the full article on one of my half hour lunch breaks this week. tanyev Dec 2021 #7
A Detroit tradition! bif Dec 2021 #8


(34,205 posts)
1. i always thought "boxing day" had something to do with boxing (as in gloves, punches, etc)
Tue Dec 28, 2021, 04:09 AM
Dec 2021

and it was popular for people to watch a boxing match (in person or on the telly)


(44,525 posts)
2. No, it comes from Christmas boxes for tradespeople and servants
Tue Dec 28, 2021, 04:28 AM
Dec 2021

It also is St Stephen's Day, and here in Sweden is called annandag jul, meaning 2nd Day of Christmas. It is a red letter day here (official paid holiday). We also have tredjedag jul, the 27th, yesterday, the 3rd day of jul, but is not a red letter day since 1772. Jultid (Christmas time) runs here through January 6, Epiphany, sometimes called the 3 Kings Day. It is called Trettondag, but, like Jul (Xmas) it is the eve (for Xmas it is called Julafton aka Christmas eve)that is more important, Trettondagsafton.

Sherman A1

(38,958 posts)
4. Precisely
Tue Dec 28, 2021, 05:52 AM
Dec 2021

I’m happy to be retired now, but it was always back to work on the 26th at 5am. The wife’s family being those that worked in offices or were stay home Moms could never understand why I wasn’t available to go do things during that week.

A difference between the served class and those of us who served them.


(16,694 posts)
6. I was thinking that as well.
Tue Dec 28, 2021, 09:12 AM
Dec 2021

There is a huge percentage of Americans who do not engage in “dead week” even if they wanted to. Working in millions of jobs do not afford those days to lounge around.


(22,998 posts)
8. A Detroit tradition!
Tue Dec 28, 2021, 10:11 AM
Dec 2021

The factories all shut down for the week. So all the auto workers and anyone in related fields (I'm an advertising copywriter) take the whole week off. It's pretty decadent. Lots of parties and drinking. A bit toned down with the pandemic still raging.

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