By D.J. Wilson –
The holiday season is a special time of year where joy abounds. Nowhere is it more obvious than in American cities with Christmas themed names. There are surprisingly many, but here are five guaranteed to make your holiday season bright.
- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – This fabulous Christmas city was christened “Bethlehem” on Christmas Eve 1741 by Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf of Saxony, Germany upon his visit to the new settlement. Steeped in Moravian tradition, from its scenic historic downtown to the revitalization of the steel plant, Bethlehem has much to offer throughout the year. Donned in decorative Christmas ornamentation, sparkling lights welcome you to this winter wonderland. Adding to the spectacular ambiance is the star of Bethlehem set high atop South Mountain. Enjoy visiting the German-style Christkindlmarkt, a Christmas fair set up in two large tents, featuring live music, dancing, delicious foods, beautiful crafts and holiday items. For the past two decades, this fair has delighted nearly one million guests. Chirstkindlmarkt is a Bethlehem tradition, though a visit to this charming city is guaranteed to bring on holiday cheer, no matter what time of year you go.
- Santa Claus, Indiana – In 1856, the town worked to establish a post office. Unable to get an application approved on their original town name of Santa Fe, Santa Claus was selected and the rest is history. Mystery surrounds the origin of the name, though many believe it was picked on Christmas Eve, after religious service was held in a small log church. Afterward, the townspeople stayed to hold a final town meeting to discuss the name for the town. Suddenly, the church door blew open and sleigh bells were heard in the distance. The children cried “Santa Claus!” and the rest is history. The town has the world’s only post office to bear the name Santa Claus. Each year, they receive thousands of letters to Santa from children near and far. A group of volunteers, known as Santa’s Elves, work hard to make sure each child receives a reply from Santa Claus. The town is host to numerous themed attractions such as Santa’s Candy Castle with confectionary treats galore and interactive features like the North Pole Network where visitors can chat with elves and learn if they’re on Santa’s good list. The town boasts a Santa Claus Museum promising fun for all who believe.
- Christmas, Florida – this spirited town was named after Fort Christmas, built by American troops on December 25, 1837 during the Second Seminole Indian War. The “Fort” was dropped from its name when the first post office opened in 1892. It’s unlikely you’ll find snow in this town located 20 miles east of Orlando, Florida. Despite a lack of snowfall, the city celebrates all year long with an enormous fully decorated tree display. There is a small Christmas gift shop, and the Christmas spirit is evident with Santa’s reindeer and sleigh displayed on a building in an RV park. Summer is a quiet place, but things get busy during the holiday season where the post office staff works diligently each season postmarking holiday cards, ensuring that the season is merry and bright for all!
- North Pole, Alaska – This small city is located in the Fairbanks North Star Borough of Alaska. It got its name from its town founders who were hoping to attract toy manufacturers to the area to bear the tag “Made in the North Pole.” Unfortunately, the inconvenient distance and proximity to the Arctic Circle did not help. The third mayor of the town built Santa Claus House, a knick-knack gift shop known for featuring the world’s largest fiberglass statue of Santa Claus outside. North Pole, Alaska receives hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa and thousands of additional requests from people wanting the town’s postmark on their holiday cards. Christmas-themed streets are part of the charm of the town and street lights in the city are decorated in candy cane motifs. Here it is possible to experience Christmas in a winter wonderland of frozen ice sculptures. The city hosts Christmas in Ice, a magical event that features Christmas-themed ice art sculptures by talented local and international carvers. This wonderful tourist attraction puts North Pole, Alaska on the map. That, and the fact that Santa may actually live there. Otherwise, it is a rather quiet community.
- McAdenville, North Carolina – What does this name have to do with the Christmas season? Quite frankly, nothing! But, it just so happens that this location makes the list (and I’ve checked it twice) because of its nickname, Christmas Town USA. This spirited small textile town turns into an illumination gala. For 26 days, the town displays more than 375 fully decorated trees. The largest tree is draped with over 10,000 lights. If the glow from the trees isn’t enough, enjoy over 200 wreaths which are fastened to lampposts to create holiday charm. The display of Santa and his reindeer is a favorite; though it really wouldn’t be Christmas here without a life-size Nativity set, reminding us all of the true reason for the season. The holiday ambiance in this charming town is abundant, from the colorful light show on the lake to the sound of Christmas chimes ringing in the church. A trip to Christmas Town U.S.A. is bound to tickle your holiday fancy.
Recognized for their special namesakes, these treasured cities jubilantly embrace the essence of the holiday season. Standing as monuments of faith, hope and joy; they prove there is no greater way to spread the Christmas spirit than to share holiday joy with others. This blessed time of year, let our hearts overflow with merriment of the season and may all your Christmas prayers be answered.