New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, December 25, 2009

Have a Witty Holiday!

In New York City, the vast majority of residents are still largely Christian, but the percentage of non-Christian groups is quite significant and in numbers that translate easily to over one million people.

Outside of the city, (in New England, for example, where I am writing this), meet and greets with family and friends at this time of year always include "Merry Christmas" and a handshake. In the city, I try to be much more conscious of the implications of Christmas in my greetings and the possible religious affiliation of those I greet.

The increasingly secular nature of the holiday certainly makes this aspect of Christmas in the city more comfortable - wishing others a Merry Christmas without knowing their religious background is much less likely to offend. I am often inclined to use "Happy Holidays" in my cards enclosing the numerous gratuities I give at this time of year.

The festive nature of the holiday and time off from work is enjoyed by many. Although this may not be embracing the original meaning of Christmas, it is a reality that most practicing Christians accept in a country founded on religious tolerance.

The non-religious emphasis is particularly noticeable in the holiday window displays. The more traditional displays, such as that of Saks, Bloomingdales, Lord and Taylor, and Macy's, do show gifts and the occasional Christmas tree. Others, such as Bergdorf Goodman, have windows that are devoid of any holiday or even seasonal themes, using the holiday season as time for an extravaganza.

I had been told that Barney's at 660 Madison Avenue had a particularly creative window display. A trip there confirmed that, however, I was surprised to see such a non-Christmasy Saturday Night Live theme, with the greeting "Have a Witty Holiday!" In its heyday, this TV show was legendary and its relationship to New York City known to everyone. The opening of each show, "Live From New York, it's Saturday Night!" made it very clear. The windows were done by Simon Doonan, creative director of window dressing for Barney's since 1986.

As I write this, I look out to a snow covered landscape - the white Christmas that Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin dreamed of. The day ahead will be one of socializing with family and friends, exchanging gifts, and a holiday dinner.

For those of you who celebrate, I wish you a merry Christmas - for everyone else, have a witty holiday :)


Anonymous said...

I look forward to my daily image from New York. Thank you for an imaginative peek at the city each day, along with your revealing narrative.
And you, Merry Christmas...or a witty holiday...with good wishes for 2010.
Bob Rall
Brandon, Mississippi

Anonymous said...

Happy Holidays!

Hilda said...

Crazy but fun!

I've stopped trying to be politically correct about the season. I figure, I'm a Catholic and I'm not going to hide it. Besides, I think most people would appreciate prayers and blessings for themselves and their loved ones, even from people of other faiths. I know I'd appreciate it if a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist prayed for me on their holy days.

I hope you and your family have a blessed, wonderful, joyful Christmas! :)

Mary said...

I'm with you, Hilda. All prayers accepted. Have a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

An Honest Man said...

@Hilda - I'd be happy to accept them on any day!

Karlo said...

I like your spirit of sensitivity. Coming from a Christian family and background I know that a lot of people in this community rankle at the "Happy Holidays" greeting, but, as I like to say, "we're all fighting gravity" therefore we should be patient and kind to all.

This post also reminds me of the "witty" or perhaps cynical Jon Stewart quote: Everytime someone says 'Happy Holidays', an angel gets AIDS.

Finally, I found your blog thru references to WFF 'N PROOF and found your gorgeous photography. My wife and I recently purchased our first camera ... ever, and discovered that it's just not as easy as it looks. Thanks for enriching our lives.

Tatiana said...

Thank you for making me miss NYC less and less through your pictures...

Kristina said...

I have a friend that works a few doors down from those displays. While I was there over Thanksgiving, we walked down and checked out the displays. While they are devoid of any "holiday" significance, I loved them. It's one of the many things that endear NY to me with all it's flair and brazenness.