Many government and academic institutions find that they are guaranteed one thing with the coming of a new year, short breaks in their normal schedule. At one time most students anticipated a generous Christmas vacation, and then they got back on schedule soon after the start of the New Year. Short Breaks in the schedule immediately after the New Year did not become commonplace until students began to ask for exams before Christmas.
Until the students raised their voices, academic schools traditionally held their finals for the first semester at the end of January. Under this system students found that with the arrival of a new year, short breaks in January were never under consideration. The students needed to study for their exams.
Now, however, more and more schools have chosen to end the first semester before Christmas. This means that some students can associate with the arrival of the New Year short breaks in the academic schedule. One place where this is particularly evident is in the Five College area in western Massachusetts. There all five Colleges-Smith, Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and the University of Massachusetts-offer a January term. This is a one month period when the students can concentrate on just a single course.
The nature of the courses that are offered leads to a promise of one thing with the New Year: short breaks in the normally demanding academic schedule. Most of the courses are on topics that are of interest to the faculty, but topics that are not covered by the course offerings during the rest of the academic year. January becomes a month when everyone is free to explore something different. The Five Colleges joined together in making this change, in order to allow students to have access to a greater number of courses.
Not all students can associate the holidays for New Year celebrating with an anticipated slowing in the academic schedule. For example, at West Los Angeles College the winter term, which begins in January, is short and intensive. During this term the students are expected to cover in 6 weeks material that would otherwise be presented over an 8 to 10 week period. These students get right back to work, making their New Year a sort of "baby new year."
The holidays for New Year celebrating also come to a quick end for those individuals who are helping to plan events for the Marin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. This Holiday takes place in mid-January. So those individuals helping to plan events for that day also need to accept the fact that their New Year is a sort of "baby new year."
Local newspapers know to plan for one thing with the approach of the New Year, short breaks in the schedule of the city government. Frequently these breaks mean that there is less local news. Wise editors hold information aside ready to use when news is scarce. Editors know that a break in news should not lead to a break in the delivery of whatever news in available. They can't have their readers associate with the New Year short breaks in the publication of a weekly or a daily paper.