This is an All Ears English podcast, episode 1907.
Three ways the holiday spirit can create connection in English.
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Are you visiting a window display or holiday market in New York City, Seoul, South Korea,
or another major world capital?
In today’s episode, find out how we celebrate the holidays here in the US and three English
phrases you can use to express how these events make you feel.
How’s it going today?
Hi, I’m great.
How are you?
I’m excited for the holidays.
This is my favorite time of year.
This is such an exciting time of year.
We are like a week away from many of the holidays.
We’re right in the middle of the holiday season.
New Year’s is coming.
Christmas is coming.
Hanukkah happened in December.
So we are super excited to be in this moment.
What comes to mind when you think about the holiday season, especially in New York City,
Yeah, that’s the thing.
Where you and I both lived in New York, there is something very magical about Christmas
in New York, the holiday season in New York that doesn’t really exist here in Arizona.
Yes, we’re celebrating the holidays, but in New York, there’s just a different feeling
that like envelops the whole city with the giant tree in Rockefeller Center and the windows
at Macy’s, right?
Oh my goodness.
I loved being there with my family during this time of year.
It’s really amazing.
And I think part of it is because there are so many movies that are based in New York
City at the holiday season, right?
And so we’ve been part of it, you know, songs, movies, music, all these things.
Schwartz department store, which is so famous from the movie Big, right?
Do you remember Tom Hanks?
The giant piano, which they still have upstairs there.
My kids played the piano jumping around on it.
I love it.
Did you go to the Rockettes when you were in New York?
We went and saw the Rockettes with our kids.
They loved it.
Like stars in their eyes during the whole show.
It’s hard to replicate a New York holiday season in other parts of the country.
But what do you do at home?
So you don’t quite have, you know, all of the settings in Arizona, but you guys must
have your own little traditions.
We do for sure.
We like to make, we’ll get cocoa and we all have our cocoa and then we drive around to
see everyone’s Christmas lights because a lot of people put holiday lights on their
homes and some of them will have like a big display set to music, almost like what you
see at Rockefeller center, of course, on a much bigger scale, but you know, at their
home and they’ll have like a radio station.
You set it to, our kids love that.
They look forward to it.
We do an advent calendar where every day they get a little toy or a little chocolate, like
counting down the days till Christmas.
Do you do an advent calendar?
No, I think we didn’t do that.
But we did have that tradition when I was a kid where we would drive around and go look
at everyone’s light display, lighting display, especially in the nineties.
That was hot because you know, everyone was like, let’s just blast this place out with
so many lights.
The more the better.
And we do put up a tree, right?
We have all of our ornaments.
We have collected ornaments from every trip we take vacation.
So we have ornaments from all over the world, right?
A little sombrero from Mexico and an Eiffel tower from France and a few from New York.
So we kind of love to just like look at our Christmas tree with all of the ornaments from
all over the world.
I love that.
Yes, I love it.
I love it.
It sounds like you and I have a lot of similar traditions and some different ones and you
know, city life also brings up this concept of window shopping and seeing those window
displays as we mentioned earlier, Aubrey.
Now in Arizona, do the big department stores set up these window displays for the holiday
It’s definitely not the same as in New York.
We went to like Macy’s and you know, down, um, where all of those beautiful windows,
the detail was so amazing.
We went every year and there would be throngs of people just lined up to see the displays
in the windows with all, it was fantastic for kids and adults.
And we don’t really have that in Arizona because we don’t have foot traffic in the same way.
Like you drive to a mall and you go in and sure they have like the newest fashions in
the windows, but they do nothing like those New York windows with all of the detail.
No, it’s never the same.
And I love the expression to use the throngs.
That’s a bonus for our listeners today listening to this episode, throngs of people.
What does that mean?
I love that word.
Like a very dense crowd of people.
So it’s almost hard to see what’s in the window because of all the people trying to see what’s
Anytime you’re in a big crowd, I think of the Thanksgiving Macy’s Day parade.
We went and saw that once and we were definitely in a throng of people where everyone’s packed
in so tight.
I love it.
I love it.
Well, this concept, this trend, while it doesn’t really work in suburban USA, it definitely
works in a place like New York City.
The trend of the super detailed, beautiful holiday window displays and the trend is spreading
all over the world, right?
Specifically, I know that there’s a famous department store that we’re going to touch
on in South Korea.
We’re going to touch on that in just a minute and pull in our listeners and ask our listeners,
you know, is this happening in their countries too?
But first I want to take a minute to call out our listeners from South Korea just to
say thank you.
Who reviewed us in South Korea, Aubrey?
What are these names?
Can you go ahead and call them out for us?
We have Jinok Song who said they listen to Allure’s English when they work out.
I love that so much.
I love that too.
Hoho said listens every day.
Olivia listens while putting on makeup in the morning and wants to push her level up
I think this is so smart to multitask while you listen.
And then we have Siegfried73 who is a police detective from South Korea living in New York
I love that we have all these listeners from South Korea around the world and you’re finding
time to improve your English with us.
Yes, I love it.
So thank you to our listeners from South Korea for reviewing Allure’s English.
And if you haven’t left a review yet, go ahead and do that now.
So in general, Aubrey, are you a big window shopper outside of the holiday season?
No, I’m not at all.
I have never…
I did love looking at the windows in New York, but I would never see something in a window
and impulsively go in and buy it.
I want to research and get the best deal.
I’m much more likely to buy something cheap online or that’s on sale somewhere rather
than spending because often the things we see in these windows are extremely expensive.
Right, right, right.
I remember when I was teaching English in Japan, I was surprised to see that when I
asked my adult students, I’d say, hey, what are you doing this weekend, this coming weekend?
And one of the top three responses I would get would be window shopping.
And I was surprised too because I’m really not into it.
I’m not into window shopping.
It’s not part of my personal culture.
I mean, I love looking at these holiday displays.
I’ll wander in New York City and look at those, but to me, window shopping all year long is
Yes, I agree, right?
And in the malls, like even just the smaller sort of retail department stores, I often
don’t even look at what’s in the window.
I’m not going to look in the window and say, what’s the newest, latest?
I’m going straight to the clearance rack.
I’m going straight to the sales like, okay, this was in the window last year, maybe six
months ago, and now I’m going to get a good deal on it.
You have your priorities straight.
I’m a bargain shopper.
Yeah, you’re a bargain shopper.
I love it.
Well, just in general, shopping is a big lift.
It’s a heavy lift, right?
Getting in the car, driving across town and that kind of thing.
But of course, at Christmas time, it becomes more of an event, a chance to socialize with
whoever has invited you to this place, this Christmas market, this window display, this
These are all potential moments of connection.
So we have an article, which we’ll link to if this is a blog post, in Time Out New York,
which lists the hottest window displays in New York City.
So what are those displays?
Who is still doing these really, really sophisticated window displays, Aubrey?
If you’re visiting New York, you can still see these.
Bergdorf Goodman is the first one, Macy’s, definitely, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks Fifth
In fact, Sir Elton John helped unveil the new display at Windows, November 22nd, with
a performance of his new song, Your Song.
I wish I could have been there for that.
I would have loved that.
Yeah, I love that.
I think that’s one of his older songs.
You remember that song?
I don’t want to sing it because I don’t want to impede on anyone’s copyright, but yeah.
I’m assuming it’s like a new relief.
But you’re right.
That is an older song.
I do know that song.
It’s a beautiful song.
So they made a whole event around it.
The culture of window displays is still somewhat alive and well in New York, but it’s just
a few of the big, big, big stores.
I don’t think any of the small mom and pop shops are really doing it, but we are seeing
this trend spread around the world.
There’s a department store in Seoul, South Korea called Shunsegae that I heard about
where they’re taking it to another level.
I watched a video last night about this.
The entire front of the building is a movie and lights display where you have the nutcracker,
you see Christmas trees.
It is beautiful when you step back and look at it.
I love that.
I wish I could be there this time of year.
So lucky everyone listening who’s in South Korea and has seen it or can go.
Those of you who might go to South Korea, I’m so glad that we’re sharing that you could
potentially see this because that sounds amazing.
I would love to see it.
I love it.
And in just a minute, we’re going to talk about how our listeners can take advantage
of this moment where you are with someone and how can you comment on what you are seeing.
But we’re going to get to that in just a second.
Okay, Aubrey, so do you think that this tradition though, you know, we’ve just named five department
stores that are doing it and we’ve said that in New York City, in the US, the mom and pop
shops are not really doing this anymore.
So do you think this tradition of window displays at the holiday season is dying?
Here’s my worry.
It’s so easy to shop online.
Almost all of my Christmas shopping arrives on my porch via Amazon, you know, not going
And so I think the reason, the stores are willing to put in the expense to do this because
those windows draw customers who then come inside and make purchases.
And the worry is if they see their business dropping, if they don’t see the income from
that, they may have to stop doing it.
So as long as there’s still foot traffic in a city where people come see the windows and
go in and make purchases, then it’s justified for companies to, for these stores to continue
But if shopping continues to go online at the rate it is, I worry that it will die out.
It makes me think of, you know, how cities are changing, or I guess it’s too soon after
the pandemic to really know, you know, how are cities changing.
But I know there is less foot traffic in New York City now than there was pre-pandemic.
A lot of people are avoiding crowds even now, and that’s the thing about New York.
Every time there’s something that’s really a draw, like this, the windows, Rockefeller
Center, ice skating there, all the really fun things are also a draw for tourists.
So as a local, if you want to avoid crowds, you’re not going to feel comfortable going
to any of those things, especially during the holidays.
But really what I want all of our listeners to get from today’s episode is some new vocabulary,
This is going to be fantastic because it’s not just the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman
or this department store in Korea.
It’s Christmas markets.
Last Christmas, I was in Germany and visited some of the holiday markets, and they were
beautiful, beautiful displays, amazing food.
What can we say when we’re wandering, we’re taking an evening out with our friends, native
speaker friend, what can we say about how this makes us feel?
I’m going to give you guys three phrases because this is always going to happen.
There’s always going to be interesting things to see, especially around the holidays, and
we always go out with our friends, family.
This is such a fun thing to meet up with someone, and you want the vocabulary to be able to
comment on it in order to make that connection, right?
So our first phrase, I love this one, is to say, it brings me right back to, and then
you could maybe say, Christmas when I was a kid, or when I was young, celebrating the
holidays with my families.
I love that phrase.
It brings me right back to.
So guys, again, if you are in your home country, if you’re in Korea, Japan, Germany, and you
were walking around and you go to this department store or this market, holiday market, you
can say this in English.
And what I like about this phrase is that it’s kind of intimate, right?
It’s sharing something of where your mind is going due to the details that you’re seeing,
a smell, a song that you’re hearing in the window display.
It’s very intimate to say this because it shows the person you’re with what’s going
on in your head.
It’s all about nostalgia, right?
When you’re willing to share that something’s giving you that feeling of nostalgia, reminding
you of good memories in your past, that’s always going to be a bonding moment, right?
You’re sharing with this person that you care enough about them to bring them into your
past and your happy memories.
Whenever someone does that for me, I feel closer to them.
I mean, I think this could also be a great way to build a business relationship potentially
by inviting someone out for an evening wandering a holiday market or looking at window displays
in downtown, you know, Seoul or in Tokyo or in New York City.
What do you think Aubrey?
Or if I know a lot of people still travel for work, if you’re in sales at lots of different
companies and you’re looking for something to do in the evening with coworkers, this
is perfect, right?
All of these different experiences, things to do.
And you’ll want that language to be able to talk about the things you’re seeing in a very
A hundred percent.
So we have two more phrases for our listeners.
What would be the next thing that we could say in English?
So this is blank is remarkable, that very interesting adjective.
So for example, the attention to detail in this window is remarkable.
And that just means it’s excellent.
It’s very impressive.
Or the costumes are remarkable, right?
Or the characters are remarkable.
The music is… so remarkable is a more interesting word, right?
We like to use not common words in English.
And there are a lot of slang things you can say that, you know, like, oh, it’s very cool.
It’s super interesting.
But when you’re with coworkers, I love this word remarkable.
That’s a little classier, a little more professional sounding.
I love that.
We should talk more on this podcast about elevated words, right?
What are the, you know, what is the word in everyday slang?
And then how can you elevate that when you’re around a business audience?
There’s always an option that makes you sound more intelligent or professional.
I love that.
Here’s number three.
Here’s number three.
It really puts me in the holiday spirit.
So another great way to share how you’re feeling, how an experience alongside your native speaking
friend is transforming your mind.
Where is it bringing you?
This is such a native expression to talk about the holiday spirit.
Something puts you in the holiday spirit, meaning it gives you that good feeling we
all experience around the holidays where we start thinking about giving gifts and serving
and helping others and anything we see, which might, you know, maybe just the lights or
the anything can put us in the holiday spirit.
I love it.
So Aubrey, what’s the takeaway for today?
I feel like this is such a good episode for, in a practical sense, for words and phrases
that our listeners can use.
But what else?
I want, I think you guys should really be thinking about if something reminds you of
your childhood, gives you that feeling of nostalgia or puts you in the holiday spirit,
that is a moment of connection.
And I love how, you know, we’re seeing all over the world in South Korea, in Japan, in
New York City, even in Germany around holiday events and displays and attention to detail.
But the thing that brings us together as a world community and lets us connect is English,
We can, and the more detailed we can get and the more advanced in how we describe what
we’re seeing, the better that connection can be, Aubrey.
Wherever you’re traveling, English is your way to connect with others.
You might not speak the language everywhere you go, but more and more, you’re likely to
find someone who speaks English.
I was grateful for this when I was in Scandinavia, traveling in Denmark, Finland, I was always
able to find someone who could speak English to me.
I didn’t speak Swedish and Finnish and Danish, luckily, so we were still able to meet and
connect and I was grateful for that.
I love it.
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Aubrey, I will see you back on here very soon.
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