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broodings from the burrow

December 1, 2016

virtual advent tour: day 1
posted by soe 5:30 am

Virtual Advent Tour 2016Welcome to Day 1 of the Virtual Advent Tour!

Macy's 2016 Christmas Windows

One of the great things about working in downtown Washington, D.C., at this time of year is the Macy’s Christmas window display. For those of you who aren’t in the U.S., Macy’s is one of our largest upscale department stores. Their original New York location (worth a visit should you be in the City) is the setting for Miracle on 34th Street, they host the famous Thanksgiving Day parade, and outposts can be found in every major city and many suburban malls across the country.

Macy's 2016 Christmas Windows

R.H. Macy is supposedly the mastermind behind the animated department store holiday window display, having created one in 1883, in which Santa’s sleigh was mechanized and moved around a track set up across his New York City’s store’s front windows. After that, department stores in major cities would compete informally to see who could create the most talked about windows of the season. While that tradition has faded from most places with the disappearance of the standalone department store, Macy’s (and their New York City competitors) keeps it going.

Macy's 2016 Christmas Windows

Here in D.C., Macy’s unveils their windows the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Since I like to be surprised when I return after the holiday, I alter my path from the metro station to my office to avoid spoilers.

Macy's 2016 Christmas Windows

The first and the last windows are Macy’s-themed staples, highlighting their underwriting of both the Thanksgiving Day parade and the 2010 animated Christmas special, Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus. The ones in between, however, change every year or so.

Macy's 2016 Christmas Windows

This year, the second and the fifth windows are the ones to pause in front of. In the second window, swirls of snow magically manifest themselves into a variety of wintry creatures. In the fifth, Santa and an elf are making their lists and matching kids up with their perfect gift. The North Pole has moved to a database system, which tracks incidents of good and bad behavior, children’s likes and dislikes, and scanned copies of their letters to Santa. (I’ve included a slideshow at the bottom of this post so you can see some of the details of these two windows.) They’re really cool window displays.

Macy's 2016 Christmas Windows

The audience for these windows is varied. Gaggles of very small kids from the downtown day care centers parade past on their daytime excursions, pausing in their trolley push chairs and duckling lines to exclaim over details. Office workers out to grab a bite to eat tend to give the windows a sideward glance while remaining in motion, rather than stopping to take in the windows as a whole. In the evening, it tends to be older folks, probably mostly tourists staying at the downtown hotels, who stroll past leisurely, conversing about past Christmases while the Muzak that’s set to be heard over the daytime bustle swells around them theatrically.

Macy's Windows, Christmas 2016

Stop back tomorrow for the next stop on the Virtual Advent Tour. And if you’re interested in taking part in the tour, details and sign-up info can be found here. We’d love to have you participate.


Category: christmas/holiday season. There is/are 8 Comments.

Oh my! Thank you for sharing this wonder! Wow!! Incredible – truly.

Comment by AsKatKnits 12.01.16 @ 8:41 am

I love store Christmas window displays, and NYC is the best for it. Our Macy’s usually has a wonderful set of windows (I haven’t been to see it yet), but no one else does anything like it. I think a lot of places are worried that they will be criticized.

This will be so much fun!!

Comment by Bridget 12.01.16 @ 11:53 am

Those windows are amazing! Reminds me of Mr. Selfridge

Comment by Tasha B (heidenkind) 12.01.16 @ 11:50 pm

Thanks for sharing the gorgeous pictures. We dont have anything like this locally. So fun to see

Comment by Tami 12.02.16 @ 7:56 am

@AsKatKnits: Thanks!

@Bridget: New York windows really are something else. I learned this weekend that one of our local bookstore has a window display designed by a picture book illustrator, so I’m really looking forward to checking that out next weekend.

@Tasha: Yes!

@Tami: We didn’t have anything like that where I grew up either.

Comment by soe 12.04.16 @ 3:36 am

Now here is an advantage of a big city – wonderful displays! thanks for sharing

Comment by raidergirl3 12.04.16 @ 9:10 pm

I like Christmas displays in shop windows, too!

Comment by Jo Kay 12.07.16 @ 2:19 pm

@raidergirl3: Yes! It’s definitely one of the perks!

@Jo Kay: They’re so much fun!

Comment by soe 12.08.16 @ 6:22 am