The secret of January: it is the best month


Consider the plight of January, the sad bag of months.

It lacks sunlight. It has one of the worst climates in the northern hemisphere: a terrible cold that lasts for 31 days.

It is a month without social parties. Even the humble month of February, its companion in the winter crisis, has Valentine's Day. January suffered another blow in 2022, when its only day of excitement, Super Bowl Sunday, moved permanently to the second month of the year.

Hollywood isn't much help. Instead of providing distractions in these gloomy days, the entertainment industry has made January a dumping ground for movies that have no chance of winning awards or making year-end critics' lists.

But the same things that make January a little boring have endeared him to his fans. And while many people hate the month because it means a restart of daily routine, Robert Mac, a comedian, welcomes the return of steady work.

“I don't like to break my routine in the second half of December,” said Mac, 55, who lives in the Washington suburbs and, like many comedians, travels a lot. “I can not do anything”.

Others like the lack of social obligations and the calm feeling of the month.

“January is quickly becoming my favorite month of the year,” said Chelsea Delman, a real estate agent in Providence, Rhode Island, in a video she recently posted to her TikTok account, Socialite Files. “I don't have to go to any parties. I don't have to go on any holidays. I do not have to do anything. “I can just relax.”

Speaking by phone, Delman, 35, seemed relieved to have made it through an overbooked December.

“I have three family birthdays in Christmas week,” he said. “And my father's birthday and my best friend's birthday are both on the 26th. When January comes, I feel like I can breathe again. “I feel like I went to the spa in January.”

That feeling of having nowhere to go and nothing to do is one of the defining characteristics of the month. After the avalanche of 18-wheelers and Amazon minivans headed to grandma's house in December, traffic on the highways drops sharply in January, and next year, which is only a few days old, has the clarity of the open road.

Along with its little brother, February and January belong to the slowest period of the year for tourism in many cities, including New York. Tiffany Townsend, a spokesperson for New York City Tourism + Conventions, said the light crowds make the city more navigable.

“For travelers, and even for New Yorkers, if there's something they want to do, waiting until January is a good decision,” Townsend said. “The line is a little shorter. Maybe you’ll get that restaurant reservation you couldn’t get in December.”

Jenn Saesue, owner of Fish Cheeks and Bangkok Supper Club, which recently received two stars in The New York Times, said it's easier to get reservations these days. Business at her restaurants is down 15 to 20 percent month-over-month, she said, in stark contrast to what she described as the “pure madness” of December.

Although she would prefer full tables, Ms. Saesue added that January allows her to “relax a little bit and get ready for the year.” She also encourages her staff to take vacations during these less hectic weeks.

“It's a good time to take a breath,” he said.

January makes up for the cold and gray with clearance sales, discounted theater tickets and other cut-price promotions – the thrifty person's dream month. Air traffic decreases, which means cheap flights.

“People are exhausted after the holidays,” said Brian Kelly, who runs the travel website The Points Guy. “The entire industry takes a break in January. And there are great offers.”

While fares to Caribbean islands and ski resorts rise, the cost of airline tickets to other destinations plummets. A quick survey by Mr. Kelly showed that the price of a bus ticket from New York to London was $467; the cost of that same flight in June was $745. Kelly, a frequent flyer in January, added that this week he was leaving for Finland, flying business class to Helsinki on his way to Lapland to see the Northern Lights.

Ms. Saesue's industry is at the forefront of a recent seasonal innovation: dry January. Her restaurants, like many others, now offer teas, mocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages. It's part of a trend in which the wellness and self-help industries have used the age-old idea of ​​New Year's resolutions to turn January into a time of new gym memberships and lemon juice and cayenne pepper cleanses.

Delman, Providence's January fanatic, said she had no intention of ruining the slowest month of the year with onerous self-improvement tasks.

“I'm not going to torment myself with a 10-day cleanse or going to the gym for a week,” she said. “I just live my life.”

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