1/ Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau
Can you imagine living in a town where it’s Christmas all year? From coincidental names like Garland and Snowflake, to more over-the-top holiday tributes (like the town that literally changed its name to a Secret Santa website), places big and small across the country are more than happy to embrace their wintry names—regardless of season or climate.
Using information from the United States Census Bureau, Stacker found 29 cities and towns across America whose names embody the spirit of Christmas. Some towns take the festivities more seriously than others— think Christmas-themed streets, year-round yuletide attractions, and huge holiday markets—while others reflect on the story behind the season. Let’s take a virtual sleigh ride as we get to know these uniquely named locations and the different ways they celebrate.
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Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, North Pole is a small New York town that pulls out all the stops for Christmas. It’s the home of Santa’s Workshop (one of the first American theme parks), which is open year-round for visitors craving holiday magic. But naturally, the festivities peak in December—the destination holds special family weekends and events throughout the month.
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Founding Date: 1960
Located in the center of Wisconsin, the town of Rudolph was not originally named after the reindeer, but rather for a baby boy who was born there. However, the red-nosed holiday icon is still very important to the town—he’s featured on a stamp and postmark at the city’s post office, and in a year-round window display at the Fisher Antique Store. The town also features the annual “Rudolph Country Christmas” event, which pays tribute to the most famous reindeer of all.
4/ Redbullet16 // Wikicommons
Founding Date: 1953
Along the Tanana River lies the city of North Pole, Alaska—named so by the Dahl and Gaske Development Company in the hopes it would attract holiday businesses. Today, the city features Christmas-themed streets (Santa Claus Lane, for example), a Santa-inspired house, candy cane street lights, and an annual Winter Festival.
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Founding Date: 1741
Situated less than two hours north of Philadelphia, the city of Bethlehem refers to itself as “Christmas City, USA.” Originally a Moravian settlement, the community was given the name Bethlehem on Christmas Eve of its first year in existence. The town pays tribute to its German roots with its annual Christkindlmarkt—a European-inspired Christmas market recognized twice by Travel + Leisure as one of the best in the country.
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Founding Date: 1765
Located on Maine’s mid-coast, the small town of Christmas Cove was believed to be named for John Smith’s anchorage there in December of 1614 (although there is some speculation to the historical accuracy of this event). Despite its winter-themed moniker, Christmas Cove is actually most popular in the summer months—when it’s a prime yachting destination.
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The small town of Noel can be found in the southwest corner of Missouri. It got the nickname “Christmas City” after its special holiday postmark, proposed by the town’s postmaster in the 1930s. The tradition has grown over the decades—tens of thousands of people continue to send season’s greetings through the town each year.
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The community of Christmas can be found on the upper peninsula of Michigan, and was given its name by a roadside holiday gift factory owner. Every single business in town is committed to the Santa Claus theme, including the nearby Yule Log Resort (located, naturally, on Candy Cane Lane).
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10/ Michael Rivera // Wikipedia
Located at the southern end of the state, the Georgia town of Dasher was not named after one of Santa’s reindeer, but rather the Daescher family who had settled on the land. Regardless, the town celebrates the holiday with flying colors, through traditional festivities like Christmas caroling.
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The coastal city of St. Marys lies near the Georgia-Florida state line and gets its name from the St. Marys River. You probably won’t see snowflakes at this temperate southern locale, but you can still get into the spirit of the season—their annual Christmas in the Park event is held on the water and features a trolley that hands out stockings for the children.
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Founding Date: 1878
A three hour drive from Phoenix will take you to the small town of Snowflake, which is paradoxically spared harsh winters thanks to its warm Arizona location. The name actually comes from Mormon leaders Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake. Even though their winters aren’t always white, residents get into the holiday spirit with a 12 Days of Christmas event every December.
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Christmas Valley is a small community in the middle of Oregon that was named after nearby Christmas Lake. Although small in size, their annual Light Parade in December is big in Christmas spirit. The parade features holiday floats, caroling, and treats like free cookies and hot beverages.
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Close to the western border of Illinois, the town of Joy has a post office that thrives during the holiday season. More than 12,000 cards from around the world are sent there every December for its special holiday postmark.
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West of Savannah, the residents of Santa Claus stuff as much Christmas spirit as possible into their tiny city—which only occupies 0.2 square miles. Streets feature names like Candy Cane Road and December Drive, and the jolly old elf himself greets visitors on a sign marking the city’s entrance.
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Close to the northern border of Mississippi lies the city of Holly Springs. To get ready for the holidays, the city holds a Christmas Historic Home Tour—a ticketed event where visitors can walk through historic homes that have been decorated for the season.
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A short drive east from Orlando will take you to the town of Christmas. It was named for Fort Christmas, which was built on Christmas Day in 1837 during the Second Seminole War. People send in mail from all over to the country to get its postmark on their holiday cards.
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Fans of ghost towns will covet this abandoned Christmas-themed town, located in the Mojave Desert. The Santa’s Land attraction was once a popular year-round holiday stop, but it ceased operations in the mid 1970s. But if you’re looking for a (slightly creepy) blast from the past, you’re in luck—its candy-cane colored buildings remain standing.
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Like Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Nazareth is another community in the state that was founded by Moravian missionaries and named for a town found in the Bible. To celebrate the season, the local Moravian Historical Society hosts an annual Christmas event, featuring an ice carver, storytelling, and merchants.
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Another little town of Bethlehem sits on Lake Hickory in North Carolina. Its residents know how to get into the holiday spirit with the Christmas in Bethlehem drive-through. Local churches and volunteers get together to put on dozens of nativity scenes that visitors can explore by car or on foot.
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Located slightly southwest of Houston, the evocative city of Sugar Land is actually named for its connection to the sugar industry. The city caters to the holiday sweet tooth with events in their Sugar Land Town Square, including photos with Santa, caroling, and the lighting of a 40-foot Christmas tree.
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East of Winchester, the town of Mistletoe was named for the plant, which can be found growing in the area. Mistletoe is well known as a symbol of Christmas romance, due in part to its history as a fertility symbol—eventually evolving into a traditional decoration for couples to share a kiss underneath.
Here’s yet another town dedicated to old Saint Nick. Originally called Santa Fe, the town changed its name to Santa Claus and was home to a decorative sleigh manufacturer. The town includes a theme park called Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, the annual 1.2 mile Santa Claus Land of Lights, and a live reindeer exhibit.
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A short ride north from Orlando is the city of Winter Park, which was originally founded as a resort for the wealthy to escape frigid northern temperatures. Although their winters are mild, their Winter on the Avenue event includes man-made snow, an ice-skating rink, a tree lighting celebration, and a visit from Santa.
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On the shores of Lake Michigan lies the city of St. Joseph. To get ready for the holiday season, they host events like Light Up the Bluff—at which one million lights grace Lake Bluff Park—as well as the Live Mannequins Event, where volunteers pose like mannequins in Christmas-decorated storefronts.
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Conjuring images of holiday decor, this large Dallas-area city was actually named after General Augustus Hill Garland. Their Christmas on the Square event boasts an ice carving, a meet and greet with Santa, and a tree lighting ceremony.
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This unincorporated area made headlines in 2005 when it changed its name to SecretSanta.com for a year, receiving a large sum of money from the website in exchange. Santa is home to yet another post office that gets particularly popular during the holiday season among those wanting its festive postmark.