Customs, holidays and festivals vary from town to town, country to country. But one thing they all have in common is that these celebrations bring people together as communities, gathering around shared histories in appreciation of culture and lore.
With Halloween around the corner, and autumn and winter festivities just down the road, we set out to discover the different ways families are coming together in New York and across the country.
You would suspect right that costumes are kind of a big deal in this family, and the sky is the limit given mom and dad’s tremendous talents. This year, the kids have decided to be Death and a fairy, but they didn’t simply land on these first pass. Ideas thrown around included a “gargoyle, princess, Grim Reaper … to name a few.”
New York hosts the country's largest Veterans Day Parade on the morning of Sunday, November 11. Around 25,000 people turn out to honor active military members and decorated veterans, as well as show their support for those wounded in action. Expect traditional floats and some of the area's best marching bands.
“The scale and intensity of how New York does anything adds to the sense of wonder and therefore the significance,” Mr. Calvert said.
And there is no sight bigger—both visually and in sheer amazement—than seeing colossal balloons that require anywhere from 30 to 100 balloon handlers, being pumped with helium and brought to life. You can make a day of it and explore the American Museum of Natural History, catch the massive balloon creatures being blown up and then enjoy dinner at Isabella's.
A great way to celebrate Hanukkah is The Jewish Museum's Hanukkah Family Day on Sunday, December 9. Families of all beliefs are welcome to learn how to build a menorah and dreidel, or shimmy to Yosi and the Superdads who are slated to perform. Attendees can also explore the Museum’s incredible collection of Hanukkah lamps and exhibits that bring to life the festival of lights.
One tradition that many New Yorkers enjoy is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. The star-studded concert-event marks its 80th year on Wednesday, November 28. Another great family activity is browsing the numerous store window displays along Fifth Avenue, such as the ones at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Cartier, Barney's, Tiffany & Co. and Lord & Taylor, which are often collaborative art installations involving notable artists, designers and decorators. These impressive tableaux stimulate the imagination and creativity in all ages.
Photo Credit: Mark Sardella
From fireworks and hot chocolate in Prospect Park to the New Year's Eve bash at the Big Apple Circus in Damrosch Park, there are both calm and exhilarating options. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan hosts a kid-friendly all-day and late night affair—or if you're feeling fancier, The Plaza's Palm Court has hosted an elegant family New Year's soirée. It’s a great way to celebrate as a family and spend time together where both parents and kids can enjoy themselves in good spirits.
Today, this cultural festival includes a parade, live music on the Free Press Summer Fest stage, children's crafts, and food. It's a time for Houstonians to come together and celebrate their creative side.
2013 is the year of the snake; so expect an appearance at the lunar new year parade as well as the 300 foot-long dragon, which requires a team of 100 costumed men and women to help him maneuver those tight San Francisco streets.
Photo Credit: --Mark--
There is also Carnaval Miami and Calle Ocho, which happen in March in Miami's Little Havana. The events have family-friendly activities, music, and Pan-American food, as well as art shows and competitions to celebrate Cuban culture.
Photo Credit: Gaby Photography
With all the distractions of the city, it seems there’s never really time for much of anything—particularly not for enjoying those very distractions. You and your kids have your hands in this and that, lending your limited and often sparse attention to a cultural event here, or a social gathering there, but when was the last time you forgot about the ticking hands on your watch face and took joy in the simple act of being together?
For the next seven weeks, we follow families that do.
Each day, with every meal and chore, these New Yorkers take a step back from it all. From neighborhood outings to museum visits, we connect with parents and their kids about how they keep their busy schedules in check and make time for what matters at the end of the day, when soccer season is over and to-do lists are crossed off: each other.
We also look to Houston, Miami, San Francisco and Chicago to see what they have to offer families who are searching for ways to be a part of each others’ everyday lives.
When it comes to your family, who doesn’t have a moment to spare?
Week One: From the Comfort of Your Front Yard
Week Two: Fashion, and Family: A Lifestyle
Week Three: Art and the City: A Family Affair
Week Five: Around the World in So Many Ways
Week Seven: The Tradition of Coming Together