Christmas Holidays

We celebrate ThanksgivingHanukkahChristmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s and Three Kings Day

Winter Solstice

Sunday, December 22, 2019
The longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere

Remember Huitzilopochtli, the national god of the Aztecs

Sunday, December 22, 2019
MEXICO CITY, Mexico ~ The Aztecs honored their national god Huitzilopochtli, the sun god of war, on the winter solstice

Hanukkah

December 22-30, 2019
NEW YORK CITY ~ Miracles await those who fill their time with the light of faith, hope and work. Hanukkah Sameach! (Happy Hanukkah)

Merry Christmas, Navidad, Natal, Natale, Noël, Craciun!

Wed, December 25, 2019
The world’s most popular Latin holiday blends winter traditions from around the world
¡Feliz Navidad!
Feliz Natal!
Buon Natale!
Joyeux Noël!
Craciun Fericit!
Merry Christmas!

Kwanzaa

Thu-Wed, Dec 26, 2019 – Jan 1, 2020
This African-American holiday tradition contemplates seven principles from our communal African heritage

New Year’s Eve

Tuesday, December 31, 2019
TIMES SQUARE, NYC ~ New Year’s has been celebrated in Times Square since the opening of the New York Times building in 1904. But it was Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve that started the party we know today in 1972. Wherever you are: Happy New Year!
¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
Feliz Ano Novo!
Felice anno nuovo!
Bonne année!
An Nou Fericit!

Three Kings Day ~ Día de Los Reyes

Monday, January 6, 2020
NEW YORK CITY ~The gift-giving day in many Latin traditions ends the Christmas holiday season

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thu-Sun, Nov 26-29, 2020
The big U.S. family holiday launches the winter holiday season


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Christmas Markets / Holiday Markets

Winter Village holiday shopping, ice skating and dining for the family

Daily Oct 31, 2019-Jan 5, 2020
MIDTOWN, NYC ~ Great place to take your family to do holiday shopping and have some fun in Bryant Park

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

Monday, November 30, 2020
LINCOLN SQUARE ~ This holiday street fair has entertainment, food tastings, a Christmas tree lighting, and a parade. FREE

PRIDA Puerto Rican Artisan’s Holiday Market

Sunday, December 8, 2019
EL BARRIO EAST HARLEM, NYC ~ Get handmade gifts by Puerto Rican artists for the holidays at this Christmas market at Artspace PS109


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Christmas Shows / Holiday Shows

“Navidad: A Mexican-American Christmas” by Calpulli

Sat-Sun, Dec 14-15, 2019
Queens Theatre
FLUSHING MEADOWS CORONA PARK, Queens ~ New York City’s magical Mexican-American Christmas show by Calpulli Mexican Dance Company should be on Broadway

“The Magic Flute” brings opera to kids

Dec 15, 2019 – Jan 4, 2020
Metropolitan Opera
LINCOLN CENTER, NYC ~ Shortened family version of Mozart’s fairy tale opera in English is a New York holiday tradition

Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Celebration

Thu-Sat, Dec 19-21, 2019
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, NYC ~ The Paul Winter Consort jazz band, gospel singer Theresa Thomason and Forces of Nature Dance welcome back the sun in this spectacular holiday show

Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

Daily, Nov 8, 2019-Jan 5, 2020
MIDTOWN, NYC ~ One of New York City’s most beloved holiday Christmas holiday shows has something for everyone at Radio City Music Hall

NYC Ballet Nutcracker

Fri Nov 29, 2019-Jan 5, 2020
LINCOLN CENTER, NYC ~ NYC’s classic christmas holiday ballet features the first Clara of color at the David H. Koch Theater

Navidad Flamenca: A Flamenco Nutcracker

Fri-Sun, December 6-8, 2019
LOWER EAST SIDE, NYC ~ Bring to life the holiday traditions of the Spanish diaspora in Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and mother Spain at Abrons Arts Center


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Christmas Concerts / Holiday Concerts

Willie Colón is “El Malo” the original bad boy of la salsa

Saturday, December 14, 2019
Lehman Center
JEROME PARK, The Bronx ~ Celebrate Christmas like we did in 1971 with the Latin Christmas album “Asalto navideño”

Los Pleneros de la 21

Sunday, December 15, 2019
Taíno Towers
EL BARRIO EAST HARLEM, NYC ~ Celebrate the holidays Puerto Rican style with live bomba, plena, parrandas and traditional Puerto Rican food and drink ¡WEPA!

New York Philharmonic “Messiah”

Tue-Thu, Dec 17-19, 2019
David Geffen Hall
LINCOLN CENTER, NYC ~ A European Christmas holiday tradition

Big Band Holidays Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Wed-Sun, Dec 18-22, 2019
Rose Theater
Jazz at Lincoln Center
COLUMBUS CIRCLE, NYC ~ Wynton Marsalis and Carlos Henriquez make the holidays swing

Trinity Church “Messiah”

Fri-Sun, Dec 20-22, 2019
FINANCIAL DISTRICT, NYC ~ The New York Times says NYC’s “most touching Messiah” is the one by Trinity Church Wall Street

Chris Botti is the biggest-selling instrumental artist in the U.S.

Dec 9, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020
GREENWICH VILLAGE, NYC ~ The Italian-American jazz trumpet player who is the best-selling American instrumental artist riffs through his 15th annual holiday residency at The Blue Note

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Windows

Friday, November 22, 2019
UPPER EAST SIDE, NYC ~ John Legend performs for the opening of the “Out of This World” windows at Bloomingdale’s

Bergdorf Goodman Christmas Windows

Thu, Nov 21, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020
MIDTOWN, NYC ~ Bergdorf’s holiday windows are works of art

Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas Windows

Monday, November 24, 2019
MIDTOWN EAST, NYC ~ Idina Menzel performs for the revealing of the ‘Frozen 2’-themed Christmas windows at Saks Fifth Avenue

Macy’s Christmas Windows

Thu, Nov 21, 2019-Jan 1, 2020
GARMENT DISTRICT, NYC ~ The theme for this year’s iconic windows is “Believe in the Wonder” at Macy’s


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Christmas Trees

Met Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche

Daily, Nov 4, 2019-Jan 7, 2020
UPPER EAST SIDE, NYC ~ The Christmas tree and nativity are decorated with handmade figurines from Naples, Italy where the nativity tradition began. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2019

Wed, Dec 4, 2019-Jan 7, 2020
MIDTOWN, NYC ~ The Christmas Tree Lighting is a big deal in Rockefeller Center

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square

Monday, November 30, 2020
LINCOLN SQUARE ~ This holiday street fair has entertainment, food tastings, a Christmas tree lighting, and a parade. FREE


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Santa Claus

Macy’s is the world’s biggest store

Daily
GARMENT DISTRICT, NYC ~ The world’s largest store has something for everyone


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Three Kings Day

The traditional Latin gift-giving day ends the Christmas Holiday season

El Museo’s Three Kings Day Parade finds the true spirit of the holidays

Monday, January 6, 2020
EL BARRIO EAST HARLEM, NYC ~ Camels, iconic giant puppets, parrandas (Puerto Rican Christmas carols), music, dancing and the Three Kings share the true spirit of the holidays at El Museo del Barrio

Three Kings Day ~ Día de Los Reyes

Monday, January 6, 2020
NEW YORK CITY ~The gift-giving day in many Latin traditions ends the Christmas holiday season


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Christmas Traditions

Advent, the countdown to Christmas

December 1-24, 2019
Kids love the tradition of counting down the days until Christmas

“El Pesebre” is a sheperd’s play produced by NYC’s top Colombian artists

Sunday, December 15, 2019
MOTT HAVEN, The Bronx ~ NYC’s leading Colombians in theatre, music and dance bring this sheperd’s play to St. Luke’s Catholic Church

La Parranda Christmas caroling Puerto Rican style

November 19 to January 6
Christmas caroling parties Puerto Rican style with aguinaldos, cuatros, lechon, pastelles, arroz con gandules, and coquito

Celebrate La Novena de Navidad, the Christmas Novena

December 16-24
This nine-day prayer cycle is a Colombian, Ecuadorian and Venezuelan Christmas tradition

La Posada Christmas caroling Mexican style

December 16-24
These uniquely Mexican caroling parties blend Christmas and Aztec winter solstice traditions

Mano a Mano Posadas y Pastorelas

Saturday, December 21, 2019
JEROME PARK, The Bronx ~ Celebrate Christmas Mexican style with a posada workshop, a posada (caroling), a shepard’s play and a piñata party at Lehman College

Merry Christmas, Navidad, Natal, Natale, Noël, Craciun!

Wed, December 25, 2019
The world’s most popular Latin holiday blends winter traditions from around the world
¡Feliz Navidad!
Feliz Natal!
Buon Natale!
Joyeux Noël!
Craciun Fericit!
Merry Christmas!

Día de las Velitas, a Colombian Christmas tradition

Monday, December 7, 2020
COLOMBIA ~ Across the country, and famously in Medellín, people light rows and rows of candles to commemorate the people’s anticipation of the Vatican’s proclamation of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854


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The Story of the Holidays in New York City

Christmas has become a global non-religious celebration, but their are many holiday traditions.

Christmas as we know it today is a blend of Ancient, Roman, Nordic, English, New York, and purely commercial traditions. From its very beginning, Christmas blended religious and popular traditions.


The Winter Solstice and Ancient Holidays

The longest night/shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere have been a time of celebration since before history.

The longest night is the Winter Solstice. It falls somewhere between December 21st and 23rd.

It was a time of feasting because animals were slaughtered to avoid feeding them over the winter, and the year’s beer and wine were ready for drinking. There was less work to do in the dark and cold. People huddled together in the cold and the availability of meat and spirits fueled a winter party.


Roman Holidays

Romans honored Saturn, their god of agriculture, with a month-long Saturnalia festival around the winter solstice. Like the later Carnival, it was a time when social roles were reversed and standards of behavior were loosened. Work and study stopped. Slaves, women, and peasants were allowed more freedom. Some Romans celebrated the birth of Mithra, a Persian sun god popular with warriors, on December 25th.


The Beginning of Christmas

The Christmas tradition started in Italy to celebrate the birth of Christ. It was Pope Julius I (337-352, Rome) who decided to celebrate on December 25. It was celebrated with a mass. That’s where the name of Christmas comes from. It’s “Christ-mass.” Pope Julius I probably chose the date to bring popular Roman celebrations under the church umbrella.

Once started, Christmas traditions began spreading around the world. Early traditions focused on the nativity, the birth of Christ in a manger or animal shed.

The Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day (Tres Reyes), was also important. The feast celebrates the revealing of Christ as the son of God. The celebration is popularly expressed through stories of the Three Kings’ visit to the baby Jesus.


Popular Traditions Get Out of Hand

Christmas became more popular in Europe as Christianity replaced Pagan religions. Already, popular traditions dominated. Christians would go to mass and then join a drunken party. Mobs of the poor would visit homes of the rich and demand to be fed. If they weren’t, they might riot.

These popular traditions came to the Americas with the English. The early 1800s were a time of social turmoil which added to the intensity of Christmas riots.


A New Yorker Invents Ancient Traditions

Washington Irving is famous for writing a purely fictional satire A History of New York under the pen name “Diedrich Knickerbocker” in 1809. Some nouveau rich New Yorkers took it so seriously that they claimed to be Knickerbocker descendants. The New York Knicks basketball team take its name from this story.

Irving did something similar for Christmas traditions. In 1819-1820, Irving published a collection of short stories called The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.. It contains the now popular stories of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It also includes several stories about the celebration of Christmas at an old English manor.

Instead of a class riot, Irving painted a picture of harmonious ancient customs that brought the social classes together. Irving was one of the first American writers to be widely read in Europe. People began thinking that this was how Christmas should be celebrated.


A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ 1848 novella, A Christmas Carol, built on Irving’s and other stories to reinforce this message of peace on earth and goodwill to men.

Concepts of Christmas continued to evolve. Christmas became a federal holiday in 1870. New York City merchants adapted the traditions and created new ones like holiday windows and visiting Santa Claus in the store to help sell stuff.

Three Kings Day

In many Latin countries, Three Kings Day is the day when children receive gifts.

Many countries and regions have their own Three Kings Day traditions. In Puerto Rico, children put grass under their beds for the camels. In the morning they wake up to find a present. It may be just one simple thing, but it is a treasure for sure.

Something for Everyone

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was a Black awakening. It encouraged other ethnic groups to come forward with the pride of their heritage. That led to the promotion of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as community alternatives to Christmas.

Because Latins are made up of all peoples, we celebrate the holidays in many different ways. Each of the traditions has something to give to those who open their hearts.

Whatever the holidays mean to you and your family, New York is one of the greatest places in the world to celebrate it.

¡Happy Holidays!