Lighting Up the Holidays

Crowd gathered at Trafalgar Square for tree lighting

My favorite way to start the holidays is attending Christmas tree lighting festivities. People seem inspired to kickoff holiday preparations and parties in a spirit of goodwill as they join friends and strangers to watch the tree become magical with lights.

In New York a few years ago, I walked by Rockefeller Center, disappointed that I’d be leaving and would miss the next day’s tree lighting. As I stopped to look at the darkened tree, the lights went on! I was amazed that testing the lights had happened at that moment, as if just for me.

The next day in Boston, I thought that their tree lighting had already occurred, so I walked up quiet Beacon Hill toward Boston Common to see the tree. Descending the other side, I heard voices and applause, and grew hopeful. A huge crowd was gathered and singers were on a stage. Shortly, with fanfare and cheers, the tree became aglow.

During a trip to London, I was excited to find out that the lighting at Trafalgar Square was occurring on the night we arrived. The impressive setting, enthusiastic crowd, official ceremony, singing of carols, and the illumination of the tree (an annual gift from Norway in thanks for WWII help) made this a trip highlight.

By New Year’s Eve, tree lightings seem long past. People gather to celebrate the promises of a new year. Soon lights are turned off, trees are taken away and we press on with routines, but the bright memories remain.

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46 thoughts on “Lighting Up the Holidays

  1. Norbert

    How great you’ve had the opportunity to see various Christmas tree lighting. I had the chance to see the Rockefeller Tree Lighting and I have to say it was magical! I felt like a little kid looking at a tree full of presents!

    1. Cathy Post author

      That’s such a great way of putting it — that it’s like “looking at a tree full of presents”. Thanks for your comment!

    1. Cathy Post author

      It’s been nice to hear from people that the lightings are a favorite part of Christmas, too. I know that they really kick off the holiday for me!

    1. Cathy Post author

      I like to think it was a little bit Christmas magic! Know what you mean about a re-do. We had a great holiday, but it was over way too soon.

  2. A Tramp Abroad

    Great post! I love London at Christmas time. I think the little traditions we establish are so important – some people say that new years resolutions are silly but they give me focus to move into the new year with purpose. Such a beautiful time of year!

  3. inka

    It was meant to be that you should see the Christmas tree lightings so you could write about it and give your readers joy too. Lovely picture and good luck with the competition.

  4. Renee

    I’m a dunderhead….that’s what I get for going back and forth between tabs…..sorry about that Cathy…charge it to the head, not the heart!

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Lighting Up the Holidays » Traveling with Sweeney --

    1. Cathy Post author

      I was going to take our tree down yesterday, but hubby begged for another couple of days. He’s really, really big on Christmas!

    1. Cathy Post author

      Would love to see New Year’s fireworks. I know that Sydney has an awesome display. Where do you recommend? Happy New Year to you, Zablon!

  6. Caz Makepeace

    I’ll never forget watching the Christmas tree lighting in Chicago. It started snowing and I was not wearing proper gloves. I thought my hands were going to freeze off and I was in a lot of pain. Could not really concentrate on the lighting of the tree or the carols. I will have to try it again somewhere this time with proper clothing 🙂 The photo is beautiful

    1. Cathy Post author

      Oh I can feel your pain! Do give it a try again — must have proper gloves (coat, hat, scarf, socks, boots, etc) for Christmas tree lightings in Chicago.

  7. Sarah

    Hi Cathy, thanks for entering our competition. What great luck you have had seeing the tree illuminations in all these countries! I live in London but I have never seen the tree lighting in Trafalgar Square. I shall have to remedy that next year!
    Happy New Year and all the best for 2011.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Sarah. Yes, do go to next year’s tree lighting. I hope to get back to London again for it, too!

  8. Adam

    Very cool story. How weird that something like this would happen. We were lucky enough to be in NYC around NYE, and while we have been to New York before and done a lot of the touristy stuff in Manhattan, one thing we had to do was go to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and skating rink. Loved it! Cool story and congrats on winning second place in the contest!!

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