New Year! New Laws! New York City!

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2023!

During the new year, many people decide to make changes in their lives. These changes are usually called resolutions- New Year’s resolutions (1). 

Well, we, the people, are the only ones making resolutions in the New Year. 

Our governor (2), Kathy Hochul, has signed in some new laws for New York for the New Year!

  1. One new law for the new year is about voting. In New York, there are many people who do not vote. It is a big problem. New York has one of the worst voter turnouts (3) in the United States! To change this, politicians (4) have decided to give New Yorkers more time to register (5) to vote. Before January 1st 2023, New Yorkers had up to 10 days to register to vote. Now, New Yorkers have up to 25 days before an election to register to vote!  Hopefully this will help give more New Yorkers more time to register to vote and then show up to vote!

  1. Another new law to begin with the new year is paid family leave for siblings (brothers or sisters)!  This is an amazing change! Paid leave means that workers get paid to leave work to take care of someone in their family if they are very sick. For example, families that have just had children get paid leave to take care of their new babies. Now, if your brother or sister is sick and you need to care for them, you can ask for paid family leave!

  1. One final law put into place is no cosmetic (6) testing on animals in New York! This law makes it illegal (against the law) to test make-up and other products on animals. If companies break this law, they can be charged $5,000 and an extra $1,000 every day after!

There are more new laws where these came from, and it is always important to learn about the law and rules of your state and city! 

For more news on the laws and changes happening in New York, you can find information at the Gothamist website below!

Source: New year, new laws: Here are some taking effect in NY on Jan. 1 – Gothamist

Vocabulary:

  1. Resolution (1) – a promise to yourself to do something
  2. Governor (2) – someone who is officially responsible for controlling a region, city, or organization:
  3. Voter turnout (3) – the number of people who show up to vote
  4. Politician (4) – someone who works in politics, especially a member of the government
  5. To register (5) – to put information, especially your name, into an official list or record
  6. Cosmetic (6) –  something that you put on your face or body that is intended to improve your appearance

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Kwanzaa is Here!

Kwanzaa is a non-religious (1) winter holiday which celebrates African- American people, their culture, and their history.

 It is a seven-day festival that begins on December 26th and lasts until January 1st.

The holiday of Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 during the civil rights movement in the United States.

The civil rights movement was a difficult time for Black Americans. Dr. Karenga wanted to create a celebration that would bring African-Americans together to celebrate their culture.

Dr. Karenga used the harvest festivals of Africa as a model for this holiday. Over the centuries (2), Africans have gathered to celebrate their crops and harvests as a time of giving thanks.

Karenga named his holiday Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits” in the African language of Swahili. Dr. Karenga based his seven principles of Kwanzaa on the traditional African values and characteristics of the ancient harvest festivals. The seven principles of Kwanzaa, called the Nguzo Saba, are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

 Every evening of Kwanzaa, a family member lights a candle in a special candle holder and talks about one of the seven Principles (3) of Kwanzaa. 

On the evening of December 31st, family and friends get together to enjoy a large feast. The last day of Kwanzaa,

January 1st, is a time of gift-giving.

The traditional colors of Kwanzaa are black, red, and green. Black represents (4) the people, red is their struggle (5), and green means hope for the future.

  1. Non-religious – not relating to a belief in a god or gods
  2. Century (centuries)- 1 century is 100 years
  3. Principle- a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong and that influences your actions
  4. Represents-  to be an example of (someone or something)
  5. Struggle- something that is difficult to do

Source: Kwanzaa — Ellii (formerly ESL Library)

What Is Kwanzaa? | How is Kwanzaa celebrated? Learn about Kwanzaa in this fun holiday video for kids – YouTube

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Winter Holidays Expressions!

Holidays times call for a holiday lesson on English idioms and phrases! It is likely that throughout December you will hear more idioms and phrases related to the upcoming winter holidays – Christmas, New Year’s, Chanukah, Diwali, and Kwanzaa.

Below is a list of 5 holiday expressions you might hear, with examples.

  1. Happy Holidays!

 This is a super common phrase that you’ve probably already heard!

 We usually say Happy Holidays in December because it includes everyone’s holidays in just one greeting! 

Instead of trying to figure out who does and doesn’t celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and the New Year, you can simply say Happy Holidays to wish everyone a happy holiday!

When someone says Happy Holidays to you, you can respond with a cheery (1) “Thank you! Happy Holidays!”


  1. The more, the merrier!

This phrase is excellent if you love to host (2) parties with lots of people.

The more, the merrier is usually used in response to someone asking if they can invite an extra guest.

For example:

Christian: Alex, Thank you for inviting me to your New Year’s Eve party! Can I invite my boyfriend?

Alex: Yes of course! The more the merrier!


  1. A scrooge/a grinch

This phrase is based on 2 famous holiday stories. Both Scrooge and The Grinch are angry or grumpy (3) characters in the stories. 

If someone calls you a scrooge or a grinch, they are calling you an unkind person who hates the holidays!

For example: 

Izzy: Can we listen to Christmas music?

Tina: No, I hate Christmas music!

Izzy: Ugh! Don’t be such a grinch!

  1. Ring in the New Year!

To ring in the new year means to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of the new year.

For example: I don’t want to go out on December 31st. I just want to ring in the new year with my friends and family this year! 

  1. Get into the holiday spirit!

Getting into the holiday spirit means that you finally feel excited about the holiday season. You feel the “spirit” or the energy of the holidays!

For example: I bought all of my Christmas gifts, and I watch a Christmas movie every night while I drink hot chocolate. I’m really getting into the holiday spirit!

Source: English Holiday Idioms, Expressions & Other Common Phrases – Ellii Blog

cheery (1) adj. happy 

to host (2) verb. to have guests over 

grumpy (3) adj.to be In a bad mood

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The Best NYC Christmas Market!

The Best NYC Christmas Market!

Is there a better way to get into the holiday spirit than grabbing a hot cup of cocoa and strolling 

through some of the best Christmas markets in New York? Not in my opinion!

Booths with local crafts, sweet and savory treats, and hot specialty drinks are great places to have a merry time and wrap up your gift shopping.

Whether outdoor or indoor, New York is home to four major holiday markets and a good number of smaller winter bazaars.

Perhaps the most famous winter bazaar is the Bryant Park Winter Village.

The Bryant Park Winter Village opens the holiday market season in New York. Besides being the first to open, it’s also the longest running, inviting visitors to explore their impressive array of booths all the way through New Year’s Day.


Debuting (1) in 2002, Winter Village in Bryant Park is one of the most exciting Christmas markets in NYC. There are many exciting things to see and do at the Bryant Park Winter Village including: an ice-skating rink with free admission, holiday stands with winter snacks, drinks to enjoy, local crafts, jewelry, clothes, and many more cute items.

The Winter Village Christmas market at Bryant Park closes on January 2nd so make sure you visit it while you can!

Source: ▷ The 14 Best Christmas Markets in NYC 2022 [UPDATE] COMPLETE List (loving-newyork.com)

Debuting (1) – arriving for the first time

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Free Saturday workshops for BIPOC teens 12 – 18: Me < We workshop @ East Side Beacon

There is a free creative workshop series for BIPOC teens (ages 12 – 18) starting in January 2023 at East Side Beacon. Below is more information and a description of the program! Application deadline is Friday, December 23rd!

MODArts Dance Collective’s (MADC) Me < We: a free workshop program for all BIPOC teens ages 12-18

The Beacon Program at East Side Community High School

January 7, 2023 – May 20, 2023

Application deadline: December 23

Click here to apply!

The Me < We workshop is a cultural affirming space for all BIPOC teenage artists ages 12-18 to creatively express themselves through movement and create choreography with an underlying theme of community. This free program will be offered through The Beacon Program at East Side Community High School, 420 East 12th Street New York, NY 10009 on Saturdays 12-2pm beginning January 7, 2023 and runs until May 20, 2023 except for the following Saturdays: February 25 & April 15. The goal of the Me<We workshop is to provide a safe and open space for BIPOC teenagers ages 12-18 to cultivate tools towards positive mental and emotional health, build a cohesive, sustainable circle of peers, strengthen their artistic voices, and realize that their voices are necessary to change the world.

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