The state of Illinois is one of the most popular Christmas holiday destinations in the Midwest. If you are planning on spending your Christmas holiday in Chicago, then you will have an amazing experience. There is no doubt there is so much to see and do in the state of Illinois during the Christmas period and you will have a chance of exploring some of the unique features that make the state an exceptional location to visit.

The culture in the region is diverse, as well as the architecture and history. The people in Illinois blend in well – creating a harmonious environment that you can enjoy during your visit.

Christmas traditions and customs in Illinois

The state of Illinois is diverse and there are urban areas as well as rural areas. Depending on where you are going to visit, you are likely to experience different Christmas customs and traditions. However, most of them are similar, especially in the main customs that make a Christian holiday. Here are some of the common Christmas traditions in Illinois.

Christmas tree in Illinois

It is a common phenomenon in the state that male members of the household will go and look for a perfect Christmas tree and cut it. This is more common in the rural parts of the state. The tree that is used is wild fir and, in some cases, it can be grown locally.

During your travel to the region, you will see people hauling their Christmas trees to their homes. The size of the Christmas tree is largely dependent on the taste and preference of the individuals. However, people who are unable to go to the forest to get their own Christmas tree will have to purchase one from the vendors that are available around the state.

Hiding of the pickle

This is a common tradition in different parts of Illinois. Once the Christmas tree has been cut it is time to take it home and decorate it with special ornaments and lights. 

Further read: Poisonous snakes in Illinois

Some of the common items that are used in decorations include pickles, during the process a real pickle is hidden in the Christmas tree. It is a common tradition for children to go search for pickles.  The first child to get the pickle will be the first one to open the gift or will open the gift on Christmas Eve.

Christmas tree decoration is usually done earlier on Christmas Eve. Depending on the region that you visit this tradition comes with different variations.

Christmas gifts in Illinois

It is a common tradition to give gifts to fellow family members and friends in Illinois. People purchase gifts from the shopping malls around the state and gift shops in the area. It is an ideal opportunity for people to showcase their gifting skills by purchasing some of favorite gifts for their family members.

Lighting up the house

In the state of Illinois, Christmas decorations are taken a notch higher as people are going to decorate their houses even more. During the process, they will pull up hundreds of lights to light their backyard and porch.

Further read: Dangerous animals in Illinois

Others even take their time to climb their roofs and add Christmas lights on their roofs. You will see strings of lights in a bush during your travel to the state. In some parts you will find people synchronizing the lights with music, hence you will see the lights twinkling throughout the holiday season. 

Snow games in Illinois

There are common Christmas traditions that you are going to find prevalent in various parts of Illinois. During this time, you will find various games such as snowball, snowmen, and snow angels being played in the snow. It is a perfect way of enjoying the Christmas period with your loved ones. 

Every member of the family can use this time to spend the day tromping through the snow with the young ones as well as bringing some imagination to life. You should not let adulthood blind you, let the kid in you out and enjoy some snow games during the festive season in different parts of Illinois – get your free and creative spirit flowing.

Christmas lights display in Illinois

The most magical way that you can spend your Christmas is to check out the dazzling lights around Illinois. The displays are important in inspiring visitors as well as creating some of the best sites in the state. Illinoisans have found a way of expressing themselves and one of the ways is through the dazzling lights around the state. 

Even during the coldest nights of December, you will see people from different parts of the state enjoy the lighting experience. It is one of the most magical moments of the year in Illinois. Even the local amusement parks, local farms, and restaurants usually put the display up.

Christmas costumes in Illinois

It is a common theme to find people pulling up their Victorian costumes during the Christmas period. During this time, you are going to find the carolers singing Christmas music in their costumes, volunteers dressed in Christmas costumes and charity workers moving from one place to another helping the needy in costumes.

Singing Christmas carols in Illinois

Illinois is one of the states where you will find people focused on making Christmas celebrations massive. During your visit to the area, you will see people participating in singing the Christmas carols. Whether it is a holiday concert, televised event, or anything of that sorts, you will find interesting.

There is a plethora of music events that take place around the state of Illinois, and you should not be left behind because there is so much that you can enjoy.

Christmas train in Illinois

This is another feature that has become so common in the state of Illinois. The holiday train usually runs from one point to another, especially from the Chicago Union Station. Here you will find a train that is decorated with Christmas themes. 

The train ride is unique because you not only get to enjoy the ride, but you will also get a chance to explore some of the unique attractions that make the state of Illinois a perfect tourist destination.

Go shopping at German Christmas markets

This is a longstanding tradition that you will find many people still following. There are traditional events that have lasted centuries and during your travel to the region, you will find some of the German markets with their traditional Christmas goodies. You can purchase anything from jewelry, Christmas cakes, decorations, and all kinds of souvenirs that are going to make your Christmas an exceptional period.

Polar plunge

This is another common tradition across the state of Illinois. The local people have adapted to it and if you are new in the region then it is likely going to surprise you. The tradition involves jumping into cold water, it is a very unique experience and if you are not ready to try it then you should prepare adequately.

It is common during the holidays when the rivers and lakes in the region are frozen. It is an enchanting event where you can take your experience to the next level by enjoying the local traditions of Illinois.

Sample some local Christmas drinks in Illinois

It is a common phenomenon that you are going to find people celebrating their holidays in different fashions around the state.  Egg nogg is a common drink in the state of Illinois during the holidays which is delicious.

Interact with Santa 

This is a common Christmas tradition that you are going to find in various parts of Illinois. Santa will be moving around the shopping malls and other public squares, and it is a perfect time for you to explore the area as you interact with him and even the elves. For many children around the state, Christmas is never complete until they have interacted with the big man with white beard.

Santa will take pictures with them and even give them presents. A visit from Santa will determine whether the children have been on good behavior throughout the year, or he could miss appearing if they have been naughty. 

Ice skating

This is a common tradition, especially during the holidays. People will move from one location to another ice skating in some of the legendary rinks that you are going to find in the state. There are so many places around the state of Illinois where you can go and showcase your skills. 

Apart from regular skating, it is critical to note that you can go play ice hockey or figure skating in the amazing rinks around the state. 

Christmas performance

It is a common feature that you are going to find during your trip to the state of Illinois that there are various performances in the state from musical concerts, dances, and Christmas caroling.

Car decoration

As indicated, the Illinoisans are not left behind when it comes to taking Christmas decorations seriously and they will even decorate their cars too during the festive season.  They will transform their SUVs into unique structures via their decorations. The red nose on the grill and some antlers sticking out of the windows are some of the common themes of Christmas decorations in the state. It is essential to note that during your travel you are going to see some of the most unique decorations in the state and the theme is mostly Santa and the magical reindeer.

In conclusion, the state of Illinois is an exceptional location where you can spend your holiday season and you will experience some of the best features around the state.  Depending on the region that you will visit you are sure of having an impeccable time.

Learn more about the Christmas traditions in the US:

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.