The UNICEF Snowflake: A Symbol of Hope

November 19, 2012
Photo by JD

On November 18, a magnificent crystal ornament began to illuminate the heart of Manhattan from high overhead at 5th Avenue and 57th Street. Enormous and delicate, the 3,300 pound UNICEF Snowflake is 28 feet tall and 23 feet wide and contains 16,000 individual crystal prisms. Designed by Ingo Maurer, it is a symbol of holiday cheer, but it also stands for something more: This glittering emblem and its crystals represent an inspired and committed community who have pledged to safeguard the world's children. Like many events in New York during this holiday season, the raising of the UNICEF Snowflake inspires both celebration and contemplation. Even as they ring in the holidays, many New Yorkers are focused on pulling their own lives back together and helping their neighbors in the aftermath of the catastrophic storm. And while the appearance of the Snowflake symbolizes the commencement of the holiday season and serves as a tribute to UNICEF’s lifesaving work, it is also an acknowledgement of how far we still have to go. We can celebrate UNICEF’s accomplishments, that the under five child mortality rate has been cut by over 40% in two decades and that millions of children’s lives have been saved, while refocusing on the magnitude of the task ahead: 19,000 children still die needless deaths every single day. As it illuminates 57th Street and Fifth Avenue in the weeks ahead, the Snowflake will serve as symbol of hope and compassion, and a statement of UNICEF’s unfailing commitment to a day when ZERO children die from preventable causes. Find out more about the UNICEF Snowflake at To have your name—or that of a loved one—engraved on one of the Snowflake's crystals, visit our Engraved Crystal Donation Form.