It’s hard not to love to Philadelphia during the holidays. Traditions run deep, passed down for generations and shared between families, blocks, and neighborhoods. From megawatt holiday displays to the wafting smells of old-school bakeries cranking out cookies, here are seven ways we Philadelphians celebrate the holidays.
1. We find every holiday decoration in existence and decorate our front windows and stoops.
Saying that Christmas has exploded all over someone’s house is the highest possible compliment given to a holiday display in Philadelphia. What we lack in yard space is compensated for with a determination to cram all of our love for the season between the front door and the sidewalk. The more lights and inflatable decorations, the better.
2. And whole neighborhood joins in on the holiday joy.
In the US, it’s relatively common to see one or two houses on a block that are a blur of holiday madness, but to get an entire street or block that’s collaborating on the over-the-top decor is something you only see in Philly. 13th Street is the most famous example, but coordinated blocks exist all over the city.
3. We enjoy the sights, sounds, and memories of the Macy’s Light Show.
What the Macy’s Christmas Light Show is to us was previously the John Wanamaker Christmas Light Show to our parents. Other than the name, little else has changed over the decades, including the famous Wanamaker organ. In a time of rapid growth in the city, it’s good to know that some things do remain the same.
4. We treat holiday and game prep as the same.
Every year, at least one of our sports teams is scheduled to play on Christmas Day — either the Eagles or the Sixers. If we’ve been especially good that year, we may even get a rare doubleheader. Timing is essential when balancing food, family, religious celebrations, and sports. With the right planning, you can go to church, open presents, have dinner, and watch a game without feeling like any aspect of the day has been neglected. The only question is what jersey will accent your holiday attire.
5. We take a stroll through the Christmas Village.
The Christmas Village has only been around for a decade, but it fits in so well that it feels like it has been part of our holiday celebration for much longer. It’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t wander around Center City with a mug of mulled wine in our hands while browsing unique gift ideas next to the LOVE statue.
6. We indulge in maximum carb intake at Latkepalooza.
Good food transcends labels. It doesn’t matter whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Festivus, latkes are exactly the kind of dense, hearty food we live for. Add in several restaurants giving their twist on the brilliance of the potato pancakes and you have a Philly foodie’s holiday delight.
7. We eat our way through the joy of the season.
The sights and smells of Philly during the holidays make it impossible to ignore the good eats that await us. We stop at Shane Confectionery for holiday gifts for loved ones and a few treats we don’t plan to share. We enjoy the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. We get pies and fruitcakes from Bredenbeck’s. And we savor the smells of Termini Bros busily preparing cookies, cakes, and cannolis to bring smiles and pounds to our homes.