Illinois Seasonal December 08, 2017
by Elizabeth Crozier 9 Weird And Wacky Holiday Traditions You’ll Only Get If You’re From Illinois
If you’re a true Illinoisan, then there are some holiday traditions you just can’t live without. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without these weird and wacky things taking place.
You may not find them so odd if you’re from here, but these nine traditions aren’t familiar everywhere. Read on for what makes an Illinois holiday season unique.
1. Cut down and bring in trees.
Sure, many people put up a Christmas tree, but Illinoisans are obsessed with cutting one down themselves. Whether it's a wild fir in a forest (which is frowned upon) or one from a farm, there's something special about a real pine.
2. Hide a pickle in the tree.
After we cut down the tree and bring it home, we decorate it with lights and special ornaments like pickles. Well, just one pickle. In this holiday tradition, kids search for the pickle, and the first to find it gets to open the first gift, or perhaps gets to open one the night before. All traditions have some variations.
3. Put lights on the house.
There's decorating, and then there's decorating. Some are fine with a simple blow-up Santa in the front yard and a string of lights on a bush, while others have to defy safety standards by climbing on their roofs to hang hundreds of glowing strands. Some even set their light displays to music.
4. Decorate the car.
After we decorate our homes, we decorate our cars too. Transforming your car or SUV into Rudolph is the most popular way to go. Red nose on the grill and antlers sticking out from the windows, and you've got one of Santa's most magical reindeer.
5. Dress up.
Whether you're a Santa enthusiast or like to use this time of year to pull out the Victorian costumes, you'll fit right in here. From carolers to charity workers, these fun volunteers make Christmas even more magical.
6. Shop at a German Christmas market.
These traditional events go way back to an ancient town in Germany known for its Christmas market. Today, Illinois locals browse these shoppes for gifts for loved ones and themselves. It may seem strange, but it makes us feel closer to our heritage.
7. Listen to Christmas music.
Whether its on the radio or at a holiday concert, it just isn't Christmas until you've heard some festive tunes. You can hear the whole state singing this time of year, and there is a plethora of magical musical events taking place throughout the state.
8. Ride a holiday train.
This has become one of the most popular holiday traditions in Illinois. Trains are already somewhat of a hot commodity, so the Christmas version is even more enlivening. Hop aboard one of several of these attractions throughout the state.
9. Take the polar plunge.
This insane tradition involves jumping into freezing cold water. It often takes place on New Year's Day when the water on lakes and ponds is typically frozen. It takes guts, but there must be a reason people do this year after year.
There are many customs and rituals that Illinoisans engage in during other times of the year too. Check out
16 weird traditions you’ll only get if you’re from Illinois.
What other holiday traditions do you hold near and dear? Share your favorite memories with us in the comments below!
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