Christmas in Alabama – Customs and Traditions

Christmas vibes on the Alabama coast.

Christmas in Alabama is a special time of year when you can immerse yourself in the rich history, cultural diversity, and unique traditions of the region. During your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to explore various ways in which Alabamians celebrate the holiday season. Here are some of the distinctive Christmas traditions you can experience in Alabama.

Christmas lights drive in Alabama

Alabama truly shines during the Christmas season with its exceptional decorations and festive lights. The people of Alabama have a deep-rooted tradition of celebrating Christmas with a strong sense of community and a dazzling array of lights. A drive through Alabama during this season is a delightful journey, as you witness the state come alive with thousands of lights, from mesmerizing spectral laser light shows to charming animal-shaped light displays in Montgomery.

Make sure to join in this heartwarming tradition during your visit and bask in the enchanting Christmas spirit. The magic of Christmas lights in Alabama begins a week before Christmas and reaches its peak on Christmas Eve. Don’t miss out on this radiant holiday tradition.

Christmas Eve midnight mass in Alabama

Alabama’s Christmas traditions are rich and deeply rooted in the spirit of the season. A prominent event is the Christmas Eve midnight mass, a cherished occasion that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. Local churches and parishes throughout the region host this significant event, and it offers a unique and spiritual experience. During your visit to Alabama, immerse yourself in the magic of the midnight mass.

Join the local community in singing Christmas carols and celebrating the beginning of Christmas day at the stroke of midnight. It’s a time of togetherness and shared blessings as people exchange heartfelt wishes for a Merry Christmas after the service. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this sacred tradition during your stay.

The pickle in the tree

While not widely practiced across the state, the tradition of “the pickle in the tree” remains common in certain areas of the region. On Christmas Eve, a pickle ornament is discreetly hidden among the Christmas tree decorations. After the Christmas Eve dinner, a child is tasked with finding the pickle.

The fortunate child who discovers the pickle may earn the privilege of opening the presents first, and in some cases, even receive a special monetary reward. This quirky tradition adds a touch of excitement and surprise to the Christmas festivities for those who partake in it.

Christmas movies in Alabama

Alabama, particularly Birmingham, boasts a beloved tradition of going to the movies during the Christmas season. This time-honored practice has been cherished by the locals for many years. Travelers visiting this region can readily partake in the festive atmosphere and enjoy some of the featured Christmas movies. It’s an ideal opportunity to explore the state’s distinctive offerings and bond with friends from diverse backgrounds.

If you attend a movie screening during this period, you’re in for a special treat. Before the movie begins, there is a delightful Christmas singalong caroling event, allowing everyone to immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit. Each year, various movies are lined up, including classics like ‘Elf’ and ‘White Christmas,’ among others. However, because theaters tend to fill up quickly during this busy season, it’s highly advisable to book your tickets well in advance for a seamless and enjoyable experience.

Explore the Gulf Shores and watch Lulu Belles and Billy Claus

In the picturesque Gulf Shores of Alabama, you can immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit with stunning parades. These parades feature brightly colored and festively decorated boats that gracefully glide through the canals, creating a magical atmosphere. The sight of these boats brings joy and delight to both locals and visitors, and it’s a heartwarming tradition celebrated with enthusiasm.

The true stars of the show are Billy Claus, Santa Claus’s younger brother, and his delightful companions, the Lulu Belles. Billy Claus, unlike his brother, has a unique mode of arrival—through the waterways. He visits the area to collect letters from children, ensuring that their Christmas wishes reach Santa. For young ones, this is a memorable experience, filled with wonder and excitement. They can also participate in engaging book-reading activities during the holiday season.

Furthermore, the Gulf Shores offer a delightful culinary experience with various local restaurants. While on your journey, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to savor the flavors of the region, adding another layer of enjoyment to your Christmas celebration.

Yule log

In Alabama, the tradition of the Yule log, while not as prevalent today, still holds historical significance. The Yule log has been an integral part of Christmas traditions, even if it’s a tradition that has somewhat faded with time.

The Yule log typically involves selecting a carefully chosen tree, often cut from a forest area, which is then placed near the fireplace. The selection process was traditionally carried out by male family members. It’s important to note that the tree should not touch the ground, as it was believed to bring bad luck.

After selecting the tree, the male family members would cut it and bring it home. Once in the home, the log was placed near the fireplace. The belief was that the Yule log would provide warmth to the household throughout the Christmas period. Consequently, it was customary to acquire the largest log possible from the forest, ensuring ample warmth for the season.

Given that a significant portion of Alabama’s population has European heritage, this tradition was more commonly practiced in the area in years gone by. While the tradition may not be as widespread today, it remains an intriguing part of the state’s historical Christmas celebrations.

Christmas trees in Fish River

Christmas in Alabama wouldn’t be the same without the enchanting sight of Christmas trees adorning Fish River. This picturesque location is where locals and visitors alike flock to find their perfect Christmas tree.

Here, you have the choice of cutting down your own Christmas tree or selecting one that’s been precut, ensuring you find the ideal centerpiece for your holiday celebrations.

Beyond the trees, the Fish River location offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature. Take a tour of the farm, where you can get up close and personal with the resident animals, including a manger scene. This is a delightful experience for kids and families, adding an extra layer of charm to your Christmas celebration in the region.

Fish River provides a wonderful backdrop for creating lasting holiday memories and exploring the exceptional features of the state during the Christmas season. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage with nature and connect with the local community while selecting the perfect Christmas tree.


Alabama has a deep-rooted tradition of celebrating Yuletide, a winter festival that pays homage to age-old customs. Historically, Yuletide was observed during the lunar cycle from late December through early January, and the term “yule” has been used in various European countries.

During your visit to Alabama, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the unique Yuletide traditions that have persisted in the state. Although the term “yule” may not be as widely recognized in the Western world, these celebrations beautifully encapsulate the spirit and history of the holiday season in Alabama. Explore the local Yuletide traditions and experience the rich tapestry of festivities that make this season so special in the heart of Alabama.


Alabama embraces the mistletoe tradition, a custom that gained popularity during the Victorian era. While this tradition is relatively new, it still retains its original essence, making it a fascinating addition to Alabama’s holiday celebrations.

Mistletoe typically bears fruit during the winter solstice, coinciding with the holiday season. This tradition involves hanging mistletoe, and when two people find themselves beneath it, they share a kiss. It is believed that this custom holds the power to increase fertility and promote healing.

Interestingly, traces of the mistletoe tradition have been integrated into modern Christian beliefs. It’s believed that the mistletoe plant, once a tree, provided the wood used for the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. After this significant event, the tree transformed into the parasitic vine we recognize as mistletoe today. The blending of historical and modern elements makes mistletoe a cherished part of Alabama’s holiday heritage.

Carol Singing

Alabama residents cherish the tradition of carol singing, making it a cherished part of the state’s holiday celebrations. This time-honored practice has deep historical roots, extending back to ancient pagan festivals even before the Christmas holiday took its current form.

Participating in carol singing is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit and connect with the local community. The practice invites everyone to join in and sing these beloved holiday songs, fostering a sense of togetherness and joy.

Although many early Christian Christmas carols were originally written in Latin during the Middle Ages, this tradition has evolved over the years. The influence of St. Francis of Assisi, who introduced nativity plays in the early 13th century, played a significant role in popularizing Christmas carols. These songs were initially limited to Latin, the language of the Church. However, the tradition expanded to include carols written in the local languages of the people, promoting inclusivity and regional diversity.

The custom of caroling found its way to England, where musicians would visit the homes of the wealthy to perform these songs. Over time, caroling became a cherished practice not only in England but also in various parts of the world, including Alabama. This tradition represents the blending of ancient roots and evolving customs, creating a unique and festive atmosphere during the holiday season in the state.

Explore Robert Moore and village collectibles

Alabama has a cherished tradition that beckons to visitors during the holiday season. It’s a tradition that’s perfect for families, offering a glimpse of the enchanting Christmas spirit that thrives in the region.

At Robert Moore and Village Collectibles, you’ll discover an extensive selection of items, making it an ideal destination for your Christmas shopping and souvenir hunting. The store boasts an array of offerings, from gingerbread house kits and a delightful assortment of nutcrackers to a variety of baubles for decorating your Christmas tree and vintage ornaments.

While exploring this unique shop during your trip to Alabama, you’ll have the opportunity to acquire collectibles that can enhance your home decor. Whether you’re searching for specific items to adorn your home or planning to introduce your children to the magic of the holidays in the area, this store has something for everyone.

To sweeten the experience, be sure to stop by the candy shop on your way out and treat the young ones to some delicious confections. Alabama’s traditions bring people together during this festive season, making it a time of joy and togetherness.

Explore Candyland

Candyland, located in Andalusia, is a cherished tradition among the people of Alabama. When you visit this region during the holiday season, you’ll discover a world of enchantment that promises an unforgettable experience for you and your family.

This free family event takes place at the Historic Courthouse Square, offering an array of festive activities. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit as you explore holiday trains, enjoy ice skating, experience the thrill of snow tubing, and let your children play in themed cottages. Candyland is an ideal location to savor the unique features of Alabama during Christmas.

Given its popularity, it’s advisable to plan your visit early in the day to avoid the crowds and make the most of this magical holiday tradition. Alabama’s Candyland exemplifies the spirit of togetherness and festive joy, making it a must-visit destination during your travels in the state.


Let’s learn more about the Christmas traditions in other US states as well:

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.