Christmas in Kansas – Customs and Traditions

Heavy snow in Kansas City.

Kansas, a midwestern state in the United States, comes alive during the festive season, making it an ideal vacation destination. With vast agricultural lands, Kansas offers some of the most picturesque Christmas scenes in the area.

The state has preserved long-standing traditions, blending them with modern practices adopted by locals. Many of these traditions trace their roots back to the 18th century. Families across different regions uphold their unique customs, adding to the diverse tapestry of the state’s celebrations.

Throughout history, these traditional commemorations have spanned the entirety of Kansas, inviting visitors to savor the distinct charm of each area. As you explore the state, take your time to immerse yourself in these cherished customs and celebrations.

Christmas customs and traditions in Kansas

The Christmas customs in Kansas are diverse, featuring both common traditions observed in the Western world and unique regional practices. It’s a time when locals come together to partake in these cherished customs. Here are some popular traditions in the region.

Christmas tree in Kansas

No Christmas in Kansas is complete without a Christmas tree. This tradition is deeply rooted in various parts of the state. During your visit, expect to find Christmas trees in almost every household. You can purchase a tree from local vendors or opt for a unique experience by visiting local tree farms. Originating from Europe, particularly Germany, this tradition has become widespread across America.

It’s a delightful experience to search for the perfect Christmas tree in town and involve your friends and family in this festive activity. The Hackberry tree is a common species found in the region, often chosen as the centerpiece for Christmas decorations.

Union Station displays

The displays at Union Station are legendary and shouldn’t be missed during your visit. The holiday season breathes life into this place, adorning it with stunning decorations. Picture-perfect spots abound, perfect for capturing memorable moments with your family.

The area features hundreds of model trains, a delightful sight for children fascinated by trains from around the country. Additionally, there’s a restaurant where you can savor exquisite local delicacies and drinks. You can even catch a movie here, elevating your holiday experience.

Plaza Christmas lights

A longstanding tradition, the Country Club Plaza in Kansas is renowned, especially when its lights are illuminated during the Christmas season. The turning on of these lights, a post-Thanksgiving event for over 90 years, signifies the arrival of Christmas.

During your visit, you’ll uncover the rich history of this location and witness this beloved tradition firsthand. Take a leisurely stroll or drive through the plaza, admiring its Spanish revival architecture. Indulge in delicious dishes at popular restaurants or explore retail outlets offering a variety of Christmas holiday items and gifts for your loved ones.

Northern Lights in Kansas

During the 1950s, a tradition began in downtown Kansas City that has remained a vital part of the region’s culture. As the holiday season approaches, visitors flock to the area for shopping, festivities, and unique entertainment traditions exclusive to this locality. In the Kansas City fashion industry, there’s a picturesque street worth exploring, adding memorable moments to your trip. This tradition, now known as the “northern lights,” has shifted northward and serves as the centerpiece of the seasonal spirit at Zona Rosa. It’s a delightful experience during the festive season to explore the various facets of the fashion industry prevalent in the area.

Fairy Princess

Dating back to 1935, the Fairy Princess tradition has become a staple across Kansas City. Originating as a marketing strategy for department stores to promote various traditions, children could visit the Fairy Princess for 25 cents.

This long-standing tradition has persisted over the years, ingrained in the fabric of Kansas, where families would frequent these stores with their children. Notably, each store boasts its own Santa, providing children the joy of participating in events or interacting with Santa during their holidays.

College basketball experience classic

A more recent tradition gaining momentum is the College Basketball Experience Classic. During your visit, you’ll witness unique elements that make this event a perfect holiday activity. The event spans from the week of Thanksgiving to the New Year, attracting thousands of basketball enthusiasts from across the state.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for families to enjoy basketball games during the festive season. Originating in the 1940s, the tournament is rich in cultural diversity, offering teenagers a great chance to socialize and enjoy some hoops.

Christmas tree after Thanksgiving

In Kansas, Christmas traditions stand out, with families seeking and erecting their Christmas trees immediately after Thanksgiving. This tradition is a cherished one, providing an opportunity for the young ones to decorate the tree with plenty of popcorn and beautiful garlands, creating a festive ambiance.

Christmas Pickle in Kansas

The Christmas Pickle is among the unique traditions found in Kansas. During your visit, you’ll notice people decorating their Christmas trees with a pickle. Legend has it that finding the pickle under the tree brings luck for the coming year.

For children, discovering the pickle means they open their presents first and receive an extra gift. It’s customary in this tradition to add small presents to the tree rather than placing them underneath.

The Mayor’s Christmas tree

In various parts of the states, you’ll discover unique traditions, like the longstanding tradition of decorating the Crown Center Grand Boulevard’s tree. This tradition, spanning years, centers around a fir tree, standing at an impressive 100 feet tall—earning the title of the tallest Christmas tree in the United States. Adorned with over seven thousand twinkling lights, this tree dazzles throughout the Christmas period.

Santa makes a grand entrance via a horse-drawn carriage, arriving at the train station where he resides until Christmas Eve, when he sets out to visit children across the state. The decoration of the mayor’s tree signifies the start of the Christmas season.

Letters to Santa

Another prevalent tradition across the state involves children writing letters to Santa. These heartfelt missives are often placed by the fireplace, awaiting Santa’s response in the form of presents—a tradition you’ll encounter during your visit to the region.

Christmas decorations in Kansas

In households, young members engage in decoration activities, while adults contribute by adding lights, tinsel, or a star atop the tree. This practice dates back to the 19th century and showcases the finest decorations across the state. Homes and Christmas trees are typically adorned before the holiday, often with handmade ornaments.

Other decorations include nuts, candy, fruits, and handmade natural products. Parks and public spaces also join in the festive spirit, adorned with Christmas lights and various displays during this period.

Christmas gifts in Kansas

The exchange of Christmas gifts is a prevalent theme throughout Kansas. Travelers are encouraged to explore the variety of gift shops around the state, where one can find unique items and souvenirs.

Whether you seek souvenirs or common items to enhance your Christmas experience, the state offers a range of gifts. Each part of Kansas boasts distinct gifts unique to the area, providing a lasting memory of your wonderful time spent in the state.


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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.