Christmas in New York

New York is one of the world’s best places to celebrate the holidays: ThanksgivingHanukkahChristmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s & Three Kings

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2019

Thursday, November 28, 2019
UPPER WEST SIDE to GARMENT DISTRICT ~ Nothing Latin about the Thanksgiving Parade, but children love it and balloon inflation is something to see

Christmas, Navidad, Natal, Natale, Noël, Craciun 2019

Wed, December 25, 2019
The traditional celebration of the birth of Christ is a blend of religious and secular winter traditions from around the world.
Merry Christmas!
¡Feliz Navidad!
Feliz Natal!
Buon Natale!
Joyeux Noël!
Craciun Fericit!

New Year’s Eve 2019

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!


DEC 26 – JAN 1; African holiday tradition ~ Seven days to contemplate seven principles from our communal African heritage

Hanukkah 2019

December 22 to 30, 2019 ~ Hanukkah reminds us that miracles come to those who fill their time with the light of faith, hope and work. There are public menorah lightings at the Grand Army Plazas in Midtown and Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Hanukkah Sameach! (Happy Hanukkah)

Three Kings Day 2020 Dia de Los Reyes

Monday, January 6, 2020
Latin Christmas Traditions
The gift-giving day in many Latin traditions

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square 2019

Monday, December 2, 2019
LINCOLN SQUARE ~ This holiday street fair has entertainment, food tastings, a Christmas tree lighting, and a parade. FREE

Winter Village Holiday Shops in Bryant Park

BRYANT PARK, MIDTOWN, October 27, 2018 – January 2, 2019, daily ~ Family-oriented holiday shopping, dining & ice skating. Skating continues through March 3, 2019.

Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular 2020

RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, MIDTOWN, Daily, November 8, 2019 – January 5, 2020 (unconfirmed dates) ~ A New York holiday classic

“The Magic Flute” Met Opera

METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE, LINCOLN CENTER, Closes Sat, Jan 5 ~ This shortened family version of Mozart’s fairy tale in English has become a New York holiday tradition

“Navidad: A Mexican-American Christmas” by Calpulli

SUNNYSIDE, QUEENS, Fri-Sun, Nov 30-Dec 16, 2018, Mexican dance Christmas show. NYC’s leading Mexican dance company premieres a new Off-Broadway holiday production.

NYC Ballet Nutcracker 2018 at Lincoln Center

LINCOLN CENTER, Tue-Sun, Nov 23 – Dec 20, 2018 ~ NYC Ballet’s Balanchine Nutcracker is a real sugar plum.
# ballet christmas holiday show

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

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Big Band Holidays

JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER, Wed-Sun, December 19-23, 2018 ~ There’s no better way to swing the holidays than with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Henriquez and all the best players

Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Celebration 2018

CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE, MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Thu-Sat, December 20-22, 2018 ~ Join the Paul Winter Consort, gospel singer Theresa Thomason and the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre as they welcome back the sun inside one of NYC’s great spiritual music halls

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ at the New York Philharmonic and Trinity Church

Tuesday – Friday
December 12 – 15, 2017
Friday – Sunday
December 15 – 17, 2017

Orchestra of St. Luke’s Holiday Sing Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood tradition

DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37th Street
between Ninth & Tenth Ave
Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

Met Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche

UPPER EAST SIDE, Daily, (estimated) November 19, 2019 to January 5, 2020 ~ The Met Christmas tree and a nativity are decorated with figurines from Naples, Italy where the nativity tradition began.
# italian christmas tree nativity

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square 2019

Monday, December 2, 2019
LINCOLN SQUARE ~ This holiday street fair has entertainment, food tastings, a Christmas tree lighting, and a parade. FREE

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree 2019

ROCKEFELLER CENTER ~ Wed, December 4, 2019 (unconfirmed) ~ A New York holiday tradition started by construction workers in 1931 continues. The first lighting ceremony is broadcast live on NBC. Daily through January 7, 2019.

Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Windows 2018

BERGDORF GOODMAN, MIDTOWN, November 15, 2018 – January 3, 2019 ~ NYC’s most luxurious department store also has the most elegant Christmas windows

Macy’s is the world’s biggest store

November 15, 2018, Thursday
Holiday windows reveal
November 18, 2018, Sunday
Santaland reservations
November 22, 2018, Thursday
Thanksgiving Day Parade
November 23, 2018
to December 24, 2018
The miracle on 34th St plays a big part in NYC holidays

Macy’s is the world’s biggest store

November 15, 2018, Thursday
Holiday windows reveal
November 18, 2018, Sunday
Santaland reservations
November 22, 2018, Thursday
Thanksgiving Day Parade
November 23, 2018
to December 24, 2018
The miracle on 34th St plays a big part in NYC holidays

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

MIDTOWN EAST, NYC ~ The seat of New York’s Catholic diocese

El Museo Three Kings Day Parade 2019

106th & LEXINGTON TO 115th & PARK & EL MUSEO, Fri, Jan 4, 2019 ~ Breakfast, Parade and a Celebration at the Museum. The faces of children holding the gift the Three Kings gave them is the best image of Christmas in New York.
# puerto rican christmas parade

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!


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