Christmas Eve is the night before Christmas. In Hispanic tradition, it is Noche Buena.
Christmas Eve in New York City
Just about every Christian church holds a Christmas Mass. It’s a really nice time to go to church in New York City. Both St Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown and the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Nolita, Manhattan have lovely Christmas Eve Masses. The one in St. Patrick’s Cathedral is usually ticketed. Ticketing usually opens September 1st. We like to go to Old St Patrick’s. It has a more homey feeling.
We also like to go have a drink in the bar at the Plaza Hotel, dinner in the Russian Tea Room, and then go to the Christmas Eve concert at Carnegie Hall.
Christmas Eve and Christmas morning are one of the quietest times in New York City. One business that is usually open is the Winter Village Holiday Market at Bryant Park in Midtown.
BLUE NOTE NEW YORK in Greenwich Village, Manhattan ~ One of America’s most popular instrumentalists plays through the holidays. 🇮🇹
This holiday market with an ice skating rink and food, is a great place to take your family for their holiday shopping.
BRYANT PARK in Midtown, Manhattan
Friday, October 27, 2023 to March 3, 2024
Christmas Eve Traditions
Christmas has become a secular (non-religious) holiday, but it retains both religious and popular traditions.
The Christian Tradition
In Christianity, Christmas Eve is a vigil leading to the Christmas Mass at midnight celebrating the traditional birth of Jesus. This is the origin of the English word “Christ-mas.”
Some families open presents, others open presents on Christmas morning. Children in families who open presents in the morning often leave out a plate of milk and cookies for Santa Claus and some carrots for the reindeer. Families who follow Hispanic tradition do their gifting on Three Kings Day. We put grass under the bed for the King’s camels.
The evening brings to mind the “Twas the Night Before Christmas” poem and “The Nutcracker” ballet.
“A Visit from St. Nicholas” starts with “Twas the Night Before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” It was written by Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) who was one of the original developers of Chelsea, Manhattan.
“The Nutcracker” ballet is a Christmas Eve fantasy. It was popularized by New York City Ballet founding choreographer George Balanchine and America’s first major prima ballerina, Native American Osage Maria Tallchief. She played the Sugar Plum Fairy. Together they made this once obscure ballet, the most popular ballet ever.
However you celebrate, Merry Christmas or Feliz Noche Buena!