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I’ve never been one for Halloween. Of course, when my brother and I were little we loved it, dressing up and walking the neighborhood trick-or-treating. But as I grew up, Halloween became this holiday that I avoided. All my life, I have never enjoyed being scared, and I have always hated horror movies. So, as you can imagine, I was excited for Halloween to be over because you know what that means. Either you’re with me, or you think I’m one of those crazy people that “skips” Thanksgiving because come November 1st, my Christmas décor is bright and beaming, and the tree is up!
I absolutely love Christmas; it’s always been my favorite time of year. Growing up in Florida without the typical winter weather means Christmas is a little different. I was always jealous of the kids up north that I knew were enjoying the cold weather, bundled up and playing in the snow, going sledding, skiing, and all of the other fun things the Florida heat doesn’t allow for. But, even without the typical Christmas, we found our traditions and great ways to celebrate. After my brother passed away, Christmas became even more important. It was a way to be close to Josh, remember him, and celebrate something he loved. Living in New York, although I was away from my family during the season, I was always with them during the Holidays. My parents always waited for me to come home so we could decorate and enjoy that time together. Even though I missed them during those weeks between the holidays, New York gave me a different appreciation for Christmas.
Manhattan Traditions of Christmas
Christmas in New York City is magical; that’s honestly the best way I can describe it. The city is bustling with people: tourists, holiday shoppers, and New York residents. Being in New York during the holidays gives you the chance to see another side of the city. Every city block is decorated in string lights and a little extra holiday cheer that fills you with joy. For most of my time in Manhattan, I lived on the Upper East Side. As one of the wealthiest areas in Manhattan, I was lucky to have such beautiful Holiday spirit decorate my walks to school and around my neighborhood. The streets are glittered with lights, wreaths, and a sense of Christmas. When you walk past a grocery store, you’re also walking past a slew of Christmas trees up for sale. Families are walking down the block with their tree in tow, ready to decorate, and the kids are all filled with joy. The neighborhoods are full of families preparing for Christmas; you walk up and down the street and feel the welcoming spirit.
If you’re a tourist visiting the city for Christmas, you’re going to hit spots like Bryant Park for the Holiday Village, Rockefeller Center for the Tree and Ice Skating, or 5th Avenue for Shopping.
5th Avenue is a crazy place during the holiday season. It always seems like the day you decide to go shopping, everyone else in Manhattan made that unanimous decision too, and you’re all gathered on the Avenue together. Even though it’s a jam-packed place, it’s also, in my opinion, the best place for shopping in the city. 5th Avenue is a fashion hub, so you’ll find the store you need with the gifts you want, whatever your price range is. 5th Avenue isn’t just great for shopping; every year during Christmas, the major stores put on their best show for their window displays. I always spend a day traveling the city to my favorite stores to see their displays. I know this may not seem like a holiday tradition, but trust me, window displays in the city will take your breath away during Christmas.
What to do in New York City on Christmas
Bryant Park, situated right next to the stunning and historic New York Public Library, becomes a Christmas Village in the winter. The grass area becomes a skating rink, and the park is full of mini walk-in shops. The park becomes a transformation of Christmas and embodies the spirit and fun of the holiday. With rows of shops, you can find presents, ornaments, decor, and even hot cocoa stands. The skating is, of course a little pricy, but what in New York isn’t? Bryant Park is magical at Christmas time and sits at the heart of the city, just a few blocks from Times Square.
Rockefeller Center is an icon for Manhattan Christmas. The tree stands at 75 feet tall and sits in the center of the city lit up all season. The Rock Center Rink became a part of my holiday traditions during my time in New York. Every year I went and skated with friends, enjoying the music, weather, and the people. The Rock Center Rink and Tree also sits directly across from Saks Fifth Avenue. Every year Saks decorates their entire storefront top to bottom in lights and puts on an incredible light show that’s in tune with some of your favorite Holiday Classics.
Christmas in New York City really is like no other. Even though the subways become more crowded, the store lines are longer, and the streets are nice and slippery, the city transforms into its own little Christmas town. The holidays can be a stressful time too, and you can read more about that on my blog, 4 Ways to Alleviate Stress During the Holiday Season, but even still, Christmas is a happy time, so remember to enjoy the holiday. So, the next trip you plan, visit NYC, because it’s magical.