Just do the Holidays!

[media-credit id=1 align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]HOLIDAY EVENTS AT THE MERCHANT’S HOUSE MUSEUM
Prior to the last 75 years, the Merchant’s House Museum was home to a prosperous merchant-class family for nearly a century. Their slice of domestic life as lived from 1835-1865 has been preserved by displaying original furnishings and personal possessions. It was during the Tredwell era that many of our beloved Christmas activities (trimming trees, singing carols, sending cards) began. Sadly, however, this was a time bereft of molded-plastic, lit-from-within Frostys — and the 19th century Hit Parade didn’t include “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Those 1950s innovations (now holiday classics in their own right) can be seen alongside their 1850s counterparts in “From Candlelight to Bubble Light: A 1950s Christmas in an 1850s House.” This visionary mash-up of times and traditions finds the museum’s halls retro-decked with conceptual stylist (and East Village icon) Deb O’Nair’s collection of vintage holiday decorations and 1950s/60s Americana.

On Dec. 9/10: “Bubble Light Cocktail Tours” happen at 6 and 8pm (90 minutes in length; includes a 45-minute tour, then classic 1950s-style cocktails and canapés. Vintage cocktail attire encouraged, but not required; $40). “From Candlelight to Bubble Light: Holiday Tours for the Whole Family” happen on Sat., Dec. 10 (45-minute tours begin every half hour, from 2-5pm; $20; $15 for children under 12). At the “Holly Jolly Holiday Cocktail Party” (6-8pm on Wed., Dec. 14; $40), come dressed in your vintage best (1850s or 1950s) and toast the holidays with cocktails and eats — then go shopping at the fabulous holiday gift bazaar. On Sat., Dec. 17 at 7:30pm, “Tinsel Tunes” features holiday songs performed by the Tinseltones in an 1850s parlor filled with 1950s decorations and vintage Christmas memorabilia ($30). On New Year’s Day, from 3-6pm, “Open House” brings back the centuries-old tradition of paying New Year’s Day calls (complete with a cup of holiday punch and snacks). Admission is $30.

At Merchant’s House Museum (29 E. Fourth St., btw. Lafayette & Bowery). Regular hours: 12-5pm (closed Tues. & Wed.). Admission: $10 ($5 for students/seniors). For info, call 212-777-1089 or visit merchantshouse.org.

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Bright Arch, big city: The Rob Susman Brass Quartet leads the singing on Dec. 7 & 24. See “Washington Square Tree Lighting.”

When it comes to giving, The Washington Square Association’s seasonal spirit is willing — to set the alarm clock for a time that puts to shame all but the most hardcore Black Friday shoppers. On Monday, November 28 — while most of us were still sleeping — WSA president Anne-Marie Sumner was delivering coffee (and, presumably, good cheer) to the burly elves who just drove in from Vermont to deliver a 45-foot Christmas tree to its new home under the Arch. That resplendent tree’s multi-colored lights get lit for the first time on December 7 — when Santa Claus shows up to lead the children in the illumination countdown. After that, a participatory event for all ages: the singing of holiday songs — thanks to music by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet and complimentary songbooks supplied by the WSA. The festivities (sans illumination countdown) repeat on Christmas Eve.

The tree lighting ceremony takes place on Wed., Dec. 7, at 6pm. It will be lit for the season, from 4pm-1am daily. The Christmas Eve festivities happen on Sat., Dec. 25, at 5pm. The Washington Square Park Arch is located at the foot of Fifth Avenue, one block south of Eighth St. For info, call 212-252-3621 or visit washingtonsquarenyc.org.

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“”Row, late 1960s.” See “Remembering Fulton Fish Market.”

Another iconic slice of old school Manhattan life that’s gone forever, the Fulton Fish Market’s South Street incarnation (1822-2005) endures — on walls — thanks to the work of Naima Rauam. The artist spent over two decades immersing herself in its darkness to dawn routine, when the market was full of life (and recently expired fish). On the sixth anniversary of its move, Rauam’s exhibit of watercolors and drawings (which glowed with a melancholy poignancy even when the market was still based on South Street) gain power and gravity as time goes by.

Free. Through Dec.18. At @SEAPORT!Gallery (210 Front St., corner of Beekman, at South Street Seaport). Gallery hours: Wed.-Sun., 12-7pm. For info, visit artpm.com.

[media-credit name=”Photo by Brian Mengini ” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″][/media-credit]URBAN BALLET THEATER’S NUTCRACKER IN THE LOWER
It’s already a Lower East Side holiday tradition — but nothing cements that status like knowing they’ve been doing it for a decade. Urban Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker in the Lower” achieves that milestone this time around. Their annual Downtown twist on the classic holiday tale retains the traditional grace of classical ballet — but adds some local flavor as well. UBT Artistic Director Daniel Catanach’s decidedly different vision of sugarplums dancing takes audiences on a journey through Manhattan’s cultural diversity. The party scene (traditionally depicted as an opulent 19th-century ball) becomes a holiday salsa party; the battle scene, set in a crumbling subway station, features gigantic krumping rats and stylized hip hop toy soldiers; and the production’s angels are informed by Native American and African dance styles. Tchaikovsky’s familiar score remains largely intact (with ample room for the baselines of hip hop and the burnished cante of flamenco).

Through Dec. 4. Wed., Thurs., Fri. at 7:30pm; Sat. at 3pm and 7pm; Sun. at 3pm. At Abrons Arts Center, at the Henry Street Settlement (466 Grand St., at Pitt St.). For tickets ($20), call 212-352-3101 or visit theatermania.com. For group sales, call 212-598-0400 or visit abronsartscenter.org. Also visit urbanballettheater.org, facebook.com/NutcrackerintheLower and twitter/NutintheLower.

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A liturgical poem with a beat: Avi Wisnia’s new single has its live debut on Dec. 9.

As he proved on his debut album (“Something New”), singer/songwriter/rabbi’s son Avi Wisnia knows his way around Brazilian bossa nova, acoustic American folk, 1950’s west-coast jazz and contemporary pop. His latest release (available now online) is the holiday single “Maoz Tsur.” This jazz instrumental is based on a liturgical poem that’s become a popular Hanukkah song often heard after the lighting of the menorah. Translated as “Rock of Ages,” its words celebrate the human spirit’s ability to claim victory over oppressors and overcome persecution. You don’t have to be one of the chosen people to appreciate that — but it doesn’t hurt! With that in mind, Wisnia cordially invites all colors and creeds to come and experience the joy of the holidays at a free event, which will feature the live performance debut of “Maoz Tsur.”

Fri., Dec. 9, from 8-9:30pm (doors open at 7:30pm). Free and open to all ages — but seating is limited, so arrive early. At Live at Caffe Vivaldi (32 Jones St.; off Bleecker St., by 7th Ave.). For info, caffevivaldi.com or 212-691-7538. For more info: aviwisnia.com; twitter.com/aviwisnia; youtube.com/teamwisnia; facebook.com/aviwisniamusic; myspace.com/aviwisniapresents.

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A sweet deal on art: David Dorsey’s “Raspberry Cupcake” (oil on canvas). See “Viridian Artists.”

Born on Long Island in the ’60s, Viridian Artists Inc. grew up in SoHo, spent the ’70s on 57th Street and has called Chelsea home for over a decade. Each year at this time, Viridian invites its regulars (and guest artists) to “create some small but special artworks to share during this season of celebration, contemplation and giving.” In addition to the exhibition of those works, Viridian is bringing back its Holiday Store — stocked with art cards, prints, artist books, small art and art jewelry (items are under $100).

“Holiday Presence” is on view Dec. 6-31 (opening reception, Thurs., Dec. 15, from 6-8pm). At Viridian Artists (548 W. 28th St., btw. 10th and 11th Aves., 6th fl.). Gallery hours: Tues. through Sat., 12-6pm. For info, 212-414-4040 or viridianartists.com.