I spoke to Ashley McFarlane, Operations Manager, in our recently opened New York office to get the low down on Christmas in the United States. Here’s how the conversation went:
Lily: Hi Ashley – hope you’re feeling as festive in New York as we are here in the UK! Is it as cold there as it is here? (You know us Brits like to start a conversation with a question about the weather..)
Ashley: It’s pretty cold! But not as cold as it can be around this time of year.
Lily: Is Christmas in New York just like it is in the movies? All snow, festively decorated department stores and giant Christmas trees?
Ashley: Well the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is pretty big at around 94 feet! Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon switched on the lights this year - it has 50,000 of them and a 9.5 foot wide Swarovski crystal star on the top. Lots of people go ice skating at the Rockefeller Center too or in Central Park. Macy’s the department store on 34th Street looks great at Christmas and they have ‘Santaland’ on the eighth floor which is really magical. Children can drop off letters to Santa in a giant red mailbox. And as for snow, we haven’t had it on Christmas Day for years but you never know!
Lily: Think it’s been about five years since we had a white Christmas in the U.K. So… in the run up to Christmas do you like to watch a good panto?
Ashley: I’m not sure what that is!
Lily: Widow Twankey...innuendos and audience participation...."it’s behiiind you!”...That type of thing?
Ashley:(laughs) This definitely must be a British thing!
Lily: (also laughing) A pantomime is a show that’s mainly aimed at children with lots of slapstick humour, often starring out of work celebrities.
Ashley: Ah ok, shows are also popular here around Christmas. The Rockettes host the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the New York City Ballet has an annual production of the Nutcracker and you can usually find a production of A Christmas Carol somewhere in the city.
Lily: That sounds a lot more high-brow than our local production of Dick Whittington starring the Krankies! (Don’t worry, I know I will have lost you again there). But, yes the Nutcracker and Swan Lake are popular Christmas shows here too.
So when it comes to food on Christmas Day – will you be eating turkey?
Ashley: As we have turkey at Thanksgiving, most people have a Christmas ham or roast beef.
Lily: With Brussel sprouts?
Ashley: I do like Brussel sprouts actually! They’re delicious roasted!
Lily: Really? I usually just eat a token one on Christmas Day. And after Christmas dinner, are you partial to a segment of Terry’s Chocolate Orange or a Matchmaker or two?
Ashley: Not sure what Matchmakers are but I usually finish Christmas dinner with some Jamaican black cake and grape nut ice cream!
Lily: That sounds delicious and far more refined!….And finally will you be pulling a Christmas cracker?
Ashley: I wish! That sounds like such fun.
So there we have it….our colleagues in the US share some traditions but not all of our Christmas customs (oh yes they do…oh no they don’t!).
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