Christmas in New York

Today is Christmas Day, and I thought it’s fitting to close my blog series on New York City (for this time around) with a post on Christmas in New York City.

Around the holiday season, in the United States you can pretty much tell that people are gearing towards Christmas with the lights, decorations, and advertisements for sales at stores everywhere. This experience is magnified to the next level, however, when you visit New York City around the holiday season, as you can visit many places that you’ve probably heard of associated to Christmas time — the Macy’s store on 34th Street (as featured in the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street), the large Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the shops on Fifth Avenue, and many New York City landmarks that are associated with the big cities — lights, high rises, crowds. Even if you normally don’t care about these (I tend to avoid the shopping malls around the holiday season if I can; it can get pretty stressful dealing with crowds and traffic especially for someone who is not into shopping that much), I think it’s something worth experiencing as a visitor at least once – if anything, to observe this as an ‘American culture experience.’

I think it’s interesting to view this from two different perspectives. For visitors from out of town, they are very much looking forward to see all of these — experiencing in real life what they had seen in movies or TV shows. But for New Yorkers who have lived in the city for a while, they come to see these as normal and perhaps even try to avoid the popular places (e.g., Times Square) around this busy time. When I visited New York City around Christmas time with a couple of my cousins, we were pretty excited to go around and see the sites. But my brother who had been living in New York City for several years by then, politely excused himself from the sightseeing, and he just met us and joined us around meal time.

The photo below was taken during that sightseeing excursion I mentioned above. It’s taken at the Rockefeller Center where they have a large Christmas tree on display in front of the GE Building and the ice skating rink. It’s quite a beautiful display — what you don’t see here is the long line behind me for people who wanted to take this photo — I think we waited in line for at least half an hour for few seconds chance to take photos.

Christmas Tree

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The St. Patrick’s Cathedral is located on Fifth Avenue right across from the Rockefeller Center area. It is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. The church building was built in 1858-1878. Today it received around five million visitors every year, some come to participate in the masses held at the church, and many come to visit to admire the building’s exterior and interior. Its location that is close to the Rockefeller Center makes it convenient for visitors to combine visits to both sites in one trip.

I’ve visited the St. Patrick’s Cathedral a couple of times, all as visitors to check out the interior of the cathedral while there was no mass going on. It’s definitely a beautiful building to worship in. On September 16, 2001, the Sunday after the 9/11 terrorist attack, there was a service held at this church in remembrance of the fallen victims. I can only imagine what it’s like to be part of that — some people already knew they had lost their love ones, some others were still looking for the missing ones and holding out hope, and others were scared of what might happen in the near future, all turning to their faith for strength, comfort and peace.

The photo below was taken from across the street outside the church. It’s an interesting contrast to see the church with its spires and the tall modern building right behind it.

St. Patrick's Cathedral