Hitting All The Right Notes: The Tradition of Unsilent Night in New York City

I’m hungry – take me to the food pairing!

If there’s one thing to know about this blog and the people behind it, it’s that Justin and I love all facets of New York City. That means loving Jean Georges and Halal Guys in equal measure. Fifth Avenue and the Lower East Side. The Met and Mmuseumm. And when it comes to the holidays, we love over-the-top displays as well as understated celebrations. One of the more quirky and lesser known holiday traditions we enjoy in New York City is that of Unsilent Night.

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The Tradition of the Non-Traditional: Christmas Day Dim Sum in New York City

In case our posts about Christmas Lights and Holiday Windows didn’t give it away, we’re pretty big fans of the holiday season. And another thing we’re pretty big fans of? Food. Christmas is fast approaching and the majority of businesses will be shuttered to observe the day’s celebration, food establishments included. But one of the many things we love about New York City is that it’s incredibly diverse. A solid quarter of it’s estimated 8.6 million population is made up of non-Christians–they include Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists, and many, many others. So, on Christmas Day, where do these other New Yorkers congregate for a meal? Turns out, there’s a tradition for that!

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Let’s Get Lit: Christmas Lights Tour with A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours

Our love of the holidays is no secret. From Halloween through New Year’s Eve, we’re down with anything this incredible city can throw at us. And New York City? Well, FUHGETTABOUDIT! It’ll throw a little bit of everything at you, from the conventional to the kitchen sink. So when our friends over at A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours recently invited us to check out their Christmas Lights Tour, we jumped at the chance. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a holiday staple in our household, we had to do it for the Griswolds.

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Better Late Than Never: 2016 NYC Holiday Window Displays

Whether you’re noshing on leftovers, watching Christmas Vacation again, or shopping the after-Christmas sales, we thought we’d help you eke out another ounce of holiday cheer with some pictures from the holiday window displays around New York City.  The amount of creative work that goes into the windows is always inspiring.  Making the pilgrimage has become one of our treasured holiday traditions, so we thought we’d share some of our favorites here. 

Here are some highlights from the same route we shared in last year’s post:

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Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride

There are many things I love about New York City, but there’s a special place in my heart for how the city celebrates the holidays.  It’s a special time of year when everyone’s a little less brusque, a little less hurried.  Tourists are in awe of their surroundings, but for a brief moment in time, the locals are too.  And all we need to shield us from the bitter cold as we take in oversized trees, holiday markets and dressed-up store windows are hot cups of cider in mittened hands.

There are certain seasonal snapshots that feel timeless.  Christmas trees for sale on the sidewalk with string lights hanging overhead.  Salvation Army volunteers dancing and singing at the entrance to the department store.  We get nostalgic around the holidays because it marks the passage of time ever so clearly, year after year.  Memories are made, traditions are born.  All of it feels sacred.

Shoppers Special Nostalgia Train Ride - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

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It’s 3.142 O’clock Somewhere: An Ode to the Best Pie in New York City

Pie is home. Pie is comfort and consistency, when life is anything but. I’ll take pie in any form: the crimped-edge, single-crusted oculus splendor, the vented double-crusted surprise, and even the lowly hand pie, with all the adult pop-tart binge baggage that comes along with it. And sure there’s a dark side to this obsession. My penchant for flaky crusts and sweet fillings has lead to undesirable trips to the tailor (I’m talking to you, skinny jeans), a couple of “I don’t feel so good” upset stomach moments, some unintentional excitement in the dentist’s chair (though causality or correlation has yet to be substantiated to my satisfaction), and innumerable half-hearted New Year’s resolutions.

The whole sordid affair began with a “sliver”. “Sliver” is a storied word in the familial lore on my father’s side of the family. We did not coin it. We do not claim its etymological origins. But it does have a particularly special meaning to us. It’s sort of a hereditary trait, perhaps a genetic disorder, pronounced over and over again through the generations. It may also have something to do with our Catholic upbringing and the inherent feelings of guilt and penance that the religion engenders in its acolytes. Continue reading It’s 3.142 O’clock Somewhere: An Ode to the Best Pie in New York City

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

As far back as I can remember, there has been a special place in my heart reserved for Halloween. It’s so much more than a trivial holiday, and so much more than a fixed point on the calendar each year marking the change in seasons. Though I’ll confess: I’ve always loved the contradiction of the last gasps of a moribund summer lending to the the burgeoning intensity of a nascent fall.

For me, Halloween is a time of childlike wonder, creativity and imagination. It’s also a time for quick road trips and late evenings. There are apple orchards and pumpkin patches to visit. There are costume parties to attend. There are horror movies that I’ve added to my queue throughout the year, in anticipation of the perfectly curated scary movie marathon. And, of course, there is an overabundance of candy — at home, school, even the office. I mean, really, what’s not to like?

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze - Mad Hatters NYC

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Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival

“I don’t think there is a life in the mundane 9-to-5 hypocrisy. That’s not living. That’s just part of the Matrix. And drag is punk rock, because it is not part of the Matrix. It is not following any rules of societal standards. Boy, girl, black, white, Catholic, Jew, Muslim. It’s none of that. We shape-shift. We can do whatever we want.” – RuPaul

While we’d like to encourage you to be happy with who you are, we’d also like to embolden you to be anyone you want to be. That may involve introspection and ambition, or it may simply involve putting on a costume when the occasion allows it. There’s a boldness to the business of getting dressed up and standing in the spotlight. Some New Yorkers get up and do it every day, while others wait for an instance like the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival to get their shape-shift on.

At the Parade and Festival on Sunday, some outfits were literal (think Easter baskets, eggs and rabbits), while others were more abstract (matching stripes and polka dots with paper umbrellas and pointy hats — still thinking on that one). Some were simple (colorful chapeaus) and others elaborate (handmade head-to-toe costumes).  The colorfully-attired participants came together on Fifth Avenue, where the dramatic Neo-Gothic exterior of St. Patrick’s Cathedral provided the perfect backdrop for their unofficial parade.  They graciously posed for pictures for, and with, admirers from far and wide. I’m sure Southern hospitality has its charms, but when New York City plays host, you can be sure you’ll get a show.

Easter Parade Bonnet Festival

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Holiday Train Show at NYBG

Being the proud owners of lush gardens and beautifully landscaped backyards, our parents probably have ten green thumbs between them.  But apparently that’s a recessive gene. Because the two of us?  We’ve killed cacti. (Yes, plural. More than one cactus, on more than one occasion.)  So instead of putting a sad ficus in the corner of our cramped apartment, to get our green fix we make our way out to the New York Botanical Garden and enjoy the Best Pretend Backyard Ever.


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The Hard Nut at BAM


There’s risk everywhere in New York City—everywhere. That’s a fact.  The promise of success and the threat of failure lurk equally around every corner.  And those who live and work and thrive here embrace that risk unconditionally, drawing strength and inspiration from it. Fearlessness, ingenuity, persistence, perseverance—for artist and entrepreneur alike, these are the tenuous threads that stitch together their dreams. And it’s this frenetic sense of potential that can lead to truly astonishing results—from distinction to disaster to something altogether less interesting (albeit still quite worthwhile) somewhere in-between.


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