Video of the day: Season’s Greetings from New York City

We at Gadling love a good time-lapse video. Whether it’s at a busy airport in Moldova or the many personalities on the streets of Laos, there’s something about seeing life pass by at fast (or slow) speeds that’s entrancing. With Christmas a few days away and Hanukkah in full swing, we especially love feeling festive without the crowds, the cold, and the hassle. Today’s Video of the Day is perfect for getting into the seasonal spirit of New York City without actually being there. Photographer Cris Magliozzi of health, fitness and happiness website Greatist shot the video on a walk from Central Park to Rockefeller Center, taking in some of the city’s best decorations, carolers, ice skaters, and other revelry. Bonus: no holiday music! Think of it as our gift to you.

Want to give us something for the holidays? Post a link in the comments below or add photos to our Flickr Group for our next Photo/Video of the Day.

Hat tip to our friends across the pond at BBC Travel for tweeting the link.

Winter holiday celebrations in Russia

Winter holiday celebrations in Russia
In most of the western world, Christmas and Hanukkah have come and gone, but in Russia, presents are being wrapped in anticipation of tonight, New Year’s Eve. In the days of the Soviet Union, religious celebrations were frowned upon, so Russians shifted their winter celebrating to December 31 and combining the traditions of gift-exchanging and New Year’s revelry into one night. In the Russian Orthodox church, Christmas isn’t officially for another week, with the Julian calendar corresponding December 25 to January 7, 2011.

I arrived in Moscow last Friday (western Christmas Eve) to find the capital freezing but festive, with New Year’s yolki (trees) decorated all over the city and various versions of Ded Moroz walking the streets, and now in St. Petersburg, locals are rushing home with Champagne and Charlie Brown-like trees under their arms. Nearly every public square has a large decorated tree and every store has elaborate holiday displays.

%Gallery-112268%Ded Moroz (Grandfather or Father Frost in English) is the Russian version of Santa Claus. He wears a blue (or traditional red) and white fur suit and carries a white staff. Ded Moroz originally was a more sinister figure, extorting presents from parents in exchange for not taking their children. In the Russian fairytale (and according to my Russian husband), Father Frost ruled the winter and if children were polite to him, they received gifts, but if they were rude, he would let them freeze to death. Sort of gives a new meaning to naughty and nice! These days, he brings gifts to children at parties rather than leaving them under the tree and he is accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka the Snow Maiden. According to the Moscow News, a Ded Moroz appearance can run 2,000 to 10,000 roubles (about $65 to $325 USD) and professional Santas might make more than 10 visits a day during Christmas week, making it a lucrative seasonal profession.

Tonight in Russia, the usual pre-New Year’s partying and indulging is going on, along with tree-trimming and presents. Be sure to stick to your resolutions and be polite to snow kings or you could be left out in the cold next year! S novym godom!

Photo of the day (12.23.10)

Photo of the day

Just one shopping day left until Christmas, maybe two if you want to push it. Even if you aren’t gift shopping, festive holiday decorations and frustrated holiday shoppers are everywhere. Flickr user jrodmanjr snapped this shot at San Francisco’s Union Square in the reflection of a tree ornament. It’s a beautiful composition and cleverly captures the festive street scene and shoppers (hopefully not seeing red).

Have any photos of other festive scenes to share? How about adding them to the Gadling group on Flickr? We might just choose one of your shots as our Photo of the Day.

Santa crawl around the world: Ho! Ho! Ho! from Gadling to you

Last Saturday night, Times Square was literally a Santa free for all. I first noticed the Santa madness as I approached from the direction of the Empire State Building while walking along Broadway. Along the way, a group of five Santas passed me. Then another group of Santas strolled by. Then there was a lone Santa and a Santa with Mrs. Claus. There were also elves.

By the time I reached 42nd Street, I wondered if this was some Improv Everywhere stunt. Nope. This was the annual Santa pub crawl where people dress like Santa Claus–some better than others, and wander the streets stopping to pop into a bar now and then or indulge a tourist with a photo op.

These hundreds of jolly Santas provided a surprising night of entertainment and an unusual taste of holiday cheer. There’s nothing quite like seeing Santa Claus taking pictures of tourists who are flanked by other Santas. The guy with the fake ear locks dressed up like a Jewish Santa was my favorite version.

Here are 15 more shots of Santa’s around the world–some in surprising places. Each was taken by a traveler who happened by. From Gadling to you, here’s another version of a Santa crawl. Ho! ho! ho! and enjoy.

Just like when there are hundreds of Santa’s, when there’s only one, magic can happen. This Santa’s kiss is being delivered at a Christmas party for kids in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Evidently, Santa has more to do than listen to kid’s Christmas wishes, make presents and deliver them. This Santa, also in South Africa, is feeding the fish at UShaka Marine World in Durban.

The first time I saw Santa en mass was Christmas Eve in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Take this fellow and multiply him over several times. If I had been thinking, I’d have bought a Santa suit for a song for myself.

These Santas gathered en mass at the Tate Modern in London. Even Santa needs a culture fix.

They make Santa kinda young in Bethlehem, Israel. He has pint-sized Santa pals in Vietnam. Santa suits are plentiful in kids sizes there as well.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina this Santa was witness to a travel related scavenger hunt put on by Midnight Soret, that aims to give people an unique way to see the country. The woman with the paper is a contestant who was able to snap, along with her group of fellow travelers, 66 of the 100 required photos.

This Santa and sidekick Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) are scaling a building in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Zwarte Piet is a version of Santa’s elves. According to the photo’s description, Zwarte Pete arrives in The Netherlands via steamboat from Spain with the aim to deliver presents to children. This building stunt looks like a swell task option for the Amazing Race.

This Santa Claus in Turkey talked turkey with the photographer about how he is concerned about children who suffer in the world and his job is to make them smile.

These Santas are high fiving in Tokyo, Japan.

Santa in Seattle, Washington at the Northgate Mall does not look like a happy fellow even though he wears the suit like it was made for him. Too many naughty kids? Not enough time off between Christmas Eves?

Sometimes Santa’s tasks wander into hawking Santa goods. This fellow is wandering the streets in Azerbaijan. This mostly Muslim country does have Russian traditions in some parts like celebrating the Russian Christmas on December 6.

This Santa is in Russia where he travels with a bear. I wonder if the station wagon in the background is his ride?

This Santa’s “Ho, ho, ho’s” are being delivered at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. The only thing that looks like the visit with Santa at the light up at the zoo in Columbus, Ohio where my son visits Santa is the guy in the red suit and the tinsel garland.

Even Santa has to do the laundry. These duds are line drying in Copenhagen, Denmark. I wonder which bicycle is Santa’s? Maybe the one with the attached carrying case? Santa needs a place for those presents, you know.

Also taken in Denmark, this photo has that warm, cozy feeling of peace. Something one hopes every Santa around the world is bringing along with him–or her–whichever the case may be.