Christmas in Tennessee – Customs and Traditions

The state of Tennessee is an exceptional place to visit during the Christmas period. It is imperative that you take your time to explore some of the unique features that make this state an amazing place to visit during the Christmas season.

The people of Tennessee are known for taking their Christmas decorations a notch higher. During your travels to the region, you’ll witness some of the most exceptional features in the area.

Christmas cultures and traditions in Tennessee are a fascinating blend of ancient practices, cultures, and modern influences from various customs around the globe.

Here are some of the most common customs and traditions that you will find in the state of Tennessee.

Christmas greenery in Tennessee

The state of Tennessee boasts some of the most unique Christmas traditions in the region. During your visit, you’ll encounter these distinctive customs.

In many traditions around the globe, one common feature is the use of greens to adorn buildings, taking Christmas decoration to a higher level. The color green, according to ancient beliefs, is associated with eternal life. Thus, during your visit to this region, you’ll witness traditions that are truly unique to the area.

The Romans celebrated the winter solstice by lighting candles and decorating their homes with wreaths and garlands. This time of year was marked by the exchange of gifts and the preparation of feasts, which became integral to the culture and tradition of the region.

As pagans converted to Christianity, many of their winter solstice customs were carried forward. Here are some of the common traditions that have persisted in the area.

Christmas serenading in Tennessee

Serenading, a popular concept in Appalachia, is much like the European tradition known as caroling. When you travel to this region, you’ll have the opportunity to explore local traditions and witness people performing this charming tradition.

Young boys go from house to house, singing Christmas songs. Many people offer them various treats, including money and fruits, among other delights.

Christmas tree in Tennessee

Christmas trees in Tennessee are used to decorate the homes.

The Christmas tree is a significant part of the holiday season in Tennessee. As you travel to different parts of the state, you’ll discover that people often venture into the forest to select their own Christmas tree.

Typically, this task falls to the male members of the family. They choose a tree that suits their taste and preferences, and then proceed to cut it and bring it home.

The use of Christmas trees in the South can be attributed to Martin Luther. These trees are adorned with a variety of materials, including fruits, candies, paper roses, and other decorative items, making them the most eye-catching decorations during the holiday season.

While this tradition was more popular in Germany, it was brought to the United States and is now observed in many parts of the state.

Fruit cake

Eating fruitcake is a common tradition in the state of Tennessee during the Christmas period. As you travel to the region, you’ll have an exceptional experience because this cake holds a special significance—it symbolizes the twelve disciples.

Many people consider this fruitcake a delightful treat. It’s a critical part of appreciating the local traditions of the people of Tennessee during the holiday season.

Holly and mistletoe

Holly and mistletoe have deep historical roots, often used during pagan times. For instance, the Romans exchanged holly wreaths as part of their festivities.

In the state of Tennessee, where many people adhere to Christian traditions, holly is associated with Christian legends. Some believe that holly was used for the crucifixion of Jesus and, as a result, it was cursed and transformed into the vine it is known as today. The sharp thorns on Christ’s crown are symbolized by the holly leaves.

Commonly, you will find people using mistletoe and holly as a symbol of fertility and new beginnings. In ancient times, ornate kissing rings were fastened to the mistletoe, and girls would kiss it for good luck in the coming year, especially unmarried girls.

Nativity scenes in Tennessee

In the state of Tennessee, you’ll discover exceptional features that make it a wonderful place to visit during the Christmas season. Nativity scenes are particularly common in the Appalachian region, where many traditions have been influenced by the early settlers who arrived in the area.

Nativity scenes in this region can vary widely in complexity and uniqueness. Some may feature Jesus, Mary, and the manger, while more intricate displays include additional figures like the three wise men, among others.

Evergreen wreaths

Evergreen wreaths are popular in various parts of the state. It’s essential to understand their significance as it provides a unique perspective on holiday traditions and beliefs.

The wreath typically symbolizes the unending cycle of life and holds great importance in signifying honor and victory. It has been used in various celebrations and, during your travels to the region, you’ll encounter some of the most unique holiday traditions.

The evergreen branches are often intertwined into a circular shape, symbolizing God’s never-ending love. This traditional decoration is deeply rooted in the culture of the region and adds a special touch to the holiday season.


While it may be a less popular tradition, it’s still common in the state of Tennessee. According to this tradition, children clean stockings and place them beside the Christmas tree. The belief is that St. Nicholas will fill these stockings with Christmas presents.

This tradition is more commonly observed in Europe, and many people of European descent enjoy it in Tennessee. It’s customary to find coins and various presents placed inside the stockings, which are then hung on the chimney.

This tradition is particularly prevalent in the southern parts of the state. When you travel to the region, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter people observing this charming custom.

Christmas cards in Tennessee

Sending Christmas cards is one of the most important traditions in the state of Tennessee. While traveling, you’ll witness people sending Christmas cards to their loved ones in various states across the country.

The tradition of sending Christmas cards has a rich history. The first formal Christmas cards were sent in the late 19th century before gaining popularity in the United States.

This tradition is widespread across the nation, and you’re not limited to sending just one card to your loved ones. There are various types of cards available to help you spread your Christmas cheer.

Americans exchange over 2 billion Christmas cards each year, making it a significant and cherished part of the holiday season.

During the Christmas season, take the time to enjoy local traditions and consider participating in some of them. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit and create lasting memories.

Christmas lights in Discovery Park

It’s common for people in the region to visit Discovery Park for its iconic Christmas lighting. This park is a beloved location in the state and attracts thousands of guests each year.

The new lights at the park have undergone significant changes. They are synchronized to Christmas songs that play at the park, creating a mesmerizing visual and auditory experience.

During this time, Santa is known to visit from Friday through Saturday. If you’re traveling with your family, you can find Santa at various locations in the area. This is sure to be a memorable experience for your young ones.

There are over a million lights displayed during this period, making it one of the most important Christmas displays in the area.

While you’re at Discovery Park, you can savor local dishes and enjoy some hot chocolate to warm up. This adds to the overall exceptional experience when you visit this iconic holiday destination in Tennessee.


Poinsettias are a common Christmas decoration in Tennessee. They are often referred to as the “flower of the holy night” because the red bracts (colored leaves) represent the flaming star of Bethlehem.

These plants are native to Mexico and have been used in decorating houses during the Christmas period. In the 17th century, priests in Mexico incorporated them into nativity celebrations because they typically bloom during the Advent season.

Worshippers placed these flowers around the manger at the altar during the Christmas season. Over the years, this tradition has become increasingly common throughout the state, making poinsettias a cherished part of Tennessee’s holiday traditions.

Graceland lighting weekend

Graceland Lighting Weekend is a well-established tradition that has been around for decades. During your visit to the region, you’ll witness how the local people wholeheartedly embrace their culture.

The lighting of Graceland holds great importance, as it provides an opportunity for locals and visitors to explore the features that make the state an incredible holiday destination.

During this event, there are various concerts, plays, and movies shown in the region. You can join the revelers in enjoying some of the common traditions in the area, adding to the festive atmosphere.

On Christmas Eve, you can partake in Christmas tours, pre-concert theme plays, and other engaging activities. It’s a time that promises an enjoyable experience during your stay in the region.

Explore downtown Nashville 

A Christmas in Tennessee isn’t complete without exploring some its iconic locations. When you travel to the state, you’ll encounter unique cultures and traditions that are exclusive to the area.

The main street in Nashville is adorned with starry Christmas lights, creating a magical atmosphere. There are numerous children’s activities available for your young ones to enjoy during your visit.

These activities include Christmas performances, train rides, holiday movies, carriage rides, and arts and crafts. You’ll have the opportunity to witness Christmas celebrations firsthand in the state of Tennessee.

Nashville is an ideal location to explore during your trip, and you won’t want to miss out on the fun activities and the festive ambiance that fills the area during the holiday season.


During the Christmas period, it’s common to encounter various superstitions in the state. As you explore different parts of the region, you should be mindful of specific beliefs that are deeply ingrained.

Some of these acts include leaving a hat on the bed, crossing paths with a black cat, or exiting through a different door than the one used to enter a room. All of these actions are considered superstitious in the region.

On the flip side, you’ll find that people place candles in their windows to ward off bad luck, showcasing a unique blend of superstition and tradition during the holiday season.

Collierville lighting ceremony

The town of Collierville adorns its docks with bows, garland, and unique lights that locals illuminate during the Christmas period. The decorations in this region are taken to the next level, featuring a stunning 35-foot Christmas tree illuminated with a dazzling array of lights.

During your visit to the region, you’ll witness over 300,000 lights shining brightly, creating a magical holiday atmosphere.

In addition to the remarkable lighting, the region hosts Christmas parades, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a variety of fun activities. These events offer some of the best experiences in the area during the holiday season.

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

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.