Christmas in New York – Customs and Traditions

Let's learn all about the Christmas traditions in New York!

The city of New York is an iconic destination that you should try to visit during Christmas because you will see its spirit in its true fashion. The city of New York sparkles during Christmas and there are hundreds of decorations in the city, giving you the best experience possible. 

The parks where you can stroll and jog are usually reinvigorated with quaint Christmas villages, landmark attractions, and hotels that transform into one of the best winter getaways during the Christmas period. The bustling streets of New York are shining bright with twinkling lights, and the bustling streets are decorated with Christmas lights and other decorations making your experience in the Big Apple magical.

The city is a host to a wide array of renowned holiday shows and events, and you can participate in some of the Christmas traditions that you will explore during your visit to the city. What makes New York an exceptional place during Christmas is that there are various fun traditions that make it a perfect Christmas location.

Whether you are a New Yorker or you are visiting during the night of Yuletide there is a wide array of traditions and activities that you can enjoy in the state. 

Christmas customs and traditions in New York

Perhaps one of the most exceptional places that you can visit during your Christmas holiday is the state of New York. There is one of the most important traditions in the region and the people usually participate in it is setting up for Christmas. 

Christmas in New York is filled with cheer, joy, family dinners, and gift-giving, and here are some of the common traditions that you are going to find popular across the state.

St. Nicholas in New York

The state of New York was first following the English traditions of the and in the year 1773 the non-Dutch patriots in the state founded the sons of St. Nicholas. This is one of the most important symbols of Christmas in the region.

Saint Nicholas is a symbol of gift-giving and he is known to climb down the chimney and bring presents to the children during the Christmas period. The first time that St. Nicholas’s image was used was in the early 19th century.  ince childhood was a delicate and important part of development, the people in the region began celebrating this holiday.

It is celebrated before Christmas, on December 6th. The children around the state wait for this period because it is one of the fun activities of the year where they can get their presents. St. Nicholas usually has a helper, and he comes with him to punish the children who were naughty in the past year.

St. Nicholas or Santa Claus is a popular figure in New York and children are amazed by the concept.

Midnight mass in New York City

Christmas Eve midnight mass is one of the common traditions in New York. During this period, you will find people going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral which is located at the heart of the city.

During this Christmas mass, you will find the different people and practices ongoing during this time. You can attend these services whether you live in New York, or are a visitor. It is a perfect way to welcome Christmas in the city.

Midnight mass ends around early 25 December and you will see fireworks and all kinds of celebrations burst from different parts of the city and people wishing each other happy holidays.

Christmas tree in New York

This is a common tradition across the state of New York. Many people across the state will often purchase a Christmas tree from the market and here they pick a tree that will suit their interior decorations. It is a common theme around the state of New York.

The people of New York embrace this idea and you are going to see them decorating their Christmas trees with lights and a little star at the top. The first Christmas trees were brought to America by German immigrants and over the years the tradition of putting up Christmas trees has become more common in the region.

Still, there are sects of religious groups that frown upon the idea of Christmas trees because they originated from pagan traditions. Regardless, the tradition has become very common around the state.

Christmas tree lighting in New York

This is a common tradition that you are going to find in the state of New York. There are various areas around the state where people usually set the tree lighting activities. Perhaps one of the popular spots is the Rockefeller Center in New York.

Once every year, a large pine-scented giant tree is often taken to the Rockefeller Center where there is a Christmas tree lighting experience. 

On this day music stars, artists, and other popular individuals across the United States join the New Yorkers in the lighting of the Christmas tree in this location. The tree is usually left lit with unique colors from December until January. 

Nutcracker Ballet

This is another common tradition in New York. The Nutcracker performance is often done at the Lincoln Center, and it is an amazing time that people give their children a New York experience that they will never forget.

The enchanting ballet is marvelous, because there is an army of tiny mice, an adorable little girl, marching wooden soldiers, a giant Christmas tree, and magical sets such as cascading snowflakes that are made to ensemble finely tuned dancers dressed in some of the most iconic costumes.

Once the light in this center goes on you will be taken to one of the most memorable places because you will see the Christmas spirit and decorations that you have never seen before. The New Yorkers know to take their Christmas experience a notch higher, hence, you will experience some of the best memories in the region.

Ice skating in New York

This is a common tradition in the state of New York and during the Christmas period, you can join other New Yorkers in ice skating in the rink at the Rockefeller Center. Here you will find the old, young, middle-aged, unconditioned, and experienced all bundled up in the rink in their mitten colorful hats enjoying skating.

Skating is a perfect opportunity for you to bond with locals as you get to indulge in one of the fun activities in the region. The rink is famous globally. It is sunk below the street level, and it is surrounded by flags from all nations. During the Christmas period, you will find white lights and an amazing fountain among other exceptional features that make the Christmas spirit felt in the area.

There is also an amazing Christmas tree that is set up during the Christmas period.

Christmas Market at Bryant Park

Here is a Christmas market in New York.

The Christmas market is one of the best destinations that you can enjoy during your vacation in New York. It is a French-style park, which is transformed into one of the busy holiday wonderlands. There are over a hundred tiny shops in the park’s perimeter. This is a common feature in the region, and it is a European-style Christmas market.

You will see some of the common European cultures and it is a perfect destination where you can relax and unwind as you get to understand some of the features that make the Christmas vibe exciting in New York. You will get gift items, which are from around the world, and the stalls are decorated uniquely for the Christmas period. 

Some of the common features include handmade crafts, jewelry, cards, winter gloves, hats, ornaments, and specialty foods. There is a French carousel and a brightly lit Christmas tree, which is a perfect spot for you to explore some of the unique features that make this region a place for Christmas activities.

Radio City Christmas show

This is one of the ancient traditions that has become synonymous with New Yorkers. The show has been going on for over 75 years now. Here you can join some of the exceptional city rocketeers as they dance and enjoy the music as well as the holiday experience in the region. 

You can join the tour bus around Manhattan and other major landmarks in the region and you will learn about the living nativity scenes in the region as well as the spectacular fireworks that usually happen at Times Square. There is nothing like Christmas in New York and with the amazing cultures and traditions, you are going to have an exceptional time.

It is a city that is steeped in so many holiday traditions and you can take it a notch higher by exploring some of the unique features that make New York your next Christmas destination.

Christmas window displays

Perhaps one of the most common traditions in New York City is the type of display that people put up during the Christmas period. It is one of the most fashionable and creative window displays that you can find on the planet and during your visit you are going to see some of the iconic displays that you will never find anywhere else.

Every designer in the area showcases elaborate holiday-themed wonderlands and it is a perfect attraction for passersby and visitors as well. There are some common themes like the Nutcracker suite, and sleeping beauty among others.

There are various animations that are put up in most of the shops during the Christmas period as well.

Santa Claus in New York

While many New Yorkers do not associate themselves with religion, it is common to note that they have contributed greatly to the rise of the modern image of Santa. During your visit to the city, you are going to see Santa decorations and even Santa himself in the major shopping malls around the city as well as the city center.

Artificial Christmas tree lights

There is no other place like New York where you are going to get some of the most exceptional city lights. During your travel to the city, you are going to see some of the iconic electric Christmas trees in New York state.

Christmas trees were illuminated with candles; before however, with the advent of electricity, things have changed, and you can see the trees being illuminated with electricity.

The Christmas tree lighting in New York is a common phenomenon and you should not be left behind in this experience.

Learn more about the Christmas traditions in the US:

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.