Southerners are known to go big for the holidays. Whether it's with Griswold-worthy light displays , magnificently trimmed trees , or one of Southern Living's traditional white cakes , we spare no time or expense to make sure the holidays are truly magical. There's no other time of year when we get to hole up with our loved ones for a few days of uninterrupted food and fellowship. The holidays are a special occasion, and we certainly treat them as such. From board short-wearing, surfing Santas in Cocoa Beach to a stiff gingerbread house competition in the Blue Ridge Mountains, every state and region celebrates the holidays a bit differently. One thing they all have in common? The undeniable spirit of the season. A few places in the South spread holiday cheer year-round thanks to their unusually festive names. From Garland, Texas and North Pole, Oklahoma to towns named for several of Santa's reindeers, here are 18 Southern towns named for the most wonderful time of the year.
Most people know Christmas as a day and time of year, but did you know it's also a place? About 30 minutes east of Orlando, this tiny unincorporated area is home to only 1,600 full-time residents. Each year, thousands of holiday enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to the town's post office so they can have their holiday cards and gifts postmarked with the Christmas, FL stamp.
North Pole, Oklahoma
You probably know about North Pole, Alaska, but what about North Pole, Oklahoma? Located 10 miles west of Broken Bow in McCurtain County, the North Pole community has certainly claimed its identity and even has a grocery store dating back to the 1930s called North Pole Grocery.
While most of our favorite festively named towns barely register as blips on the map, Garland, Texas, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, is a true destination. Around the holidays, the downtown comes alive with hundreds of glittering lights, a town tree, and gorgeous window displays. You can get in the spirit with a holiday scavenger hunt, Christmas shows, symphony performances, and plenty of opportunities to spot Santa.
Located along the Elk River in the southwest corner of Missouri, Noel is also known as The Christmas City in the Ozark Vacation Land. Since 1940, thousands of festive folk from across the U.S. have made it a point to send their letters through the tiny town so they can be postmarked with Noel, MO.
Santa Claus, Georgia
Incorporated as a city in 1941, Santa Claus, Georgia was named by a local entrepreneur who aimed to attract visitors to his pecan business and nearby motel with the festive moniker. If you happen to pass through the postage stamp-sized city (population 200), you'll likely drive down roads with names like Noel Street, Sleigh Street, Dancer Street, Rudolph Way, and Reindeer Street.
It may sound like a made-up destination from a Seuss book, but Christmasville is a real place. The unincorporated community is tucked away in northwest Tennessee.
Certain plant species are synonymous with the holidays—evergreens, firs, poinsettias, and everyone's favorite kissing crop, mistletoe. The southeastern Kentucky town was named for the abundance of the plant in the area.
Beginning the long train of reindeer-named towns is Dasher, Georgia. Founded in 1893, the South Georgia town is actually named after its founding family the Daeschers. Nevertheless, its 1,000-plus residents take advantage of the double-meaning with holiday events and gatherings.
Formerly known as Maud, this unincorporated community in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana officially changed its name to Vixen in 1898.
Everyone's favorite red-nosed rebel wasn't left out of any reindeer games this time. Don't fret if you can't find it on the map. The western Tennessee town is located near Belle Eagle in Haywood County.
Bethlehem, North Carolina
There are a few Bethlehems scattered throughout the South—including locales in Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky—but North Carolina's version, located about an hour northwest of Charlotte, takes the cake thanks to its yearly nativity drive-thru featuring more than 100 volunteers dressed up as shepherds, wise men, and angels.
St. Marys, Georgia
Straddling the Florida-Georgia state line, St. Marys was founded in 1788 and named for the St. Marys River which runs alongside the community. A popular coastal getaway, you can celebrate the season in St. Marys at the St. Marys Christmas Tour of Homes, which brings attendees inside five beautifully decorated homes, as well as historic churches and businesses all decked out for the holidays.
Mount Holly, North Carolina
This suburb of Charlotte was named for historic Mount Holly Cotton Mill, which is set to find new life as a rum distillery in 2024. The town of almost 18,000 loves to celebrate the winter holidays with an annual parade, tree lighting ceremony, and Christmas-themed carriage rides through the historic downtown.
There aren't many places in the South where you can hope for a white Christmas, but Wintergreen, Virginia is one of the few. This census-designated area is home to Wintergreen Resort, a ski resort spanning 11,000 acres on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
On the other hand, you can expect a green Christmas in this southern Alabama town. Around these parts, you'll find abundant foliage year-round, but during December, Evergreen really shows out by lining its main street with Christmas trees and hosting a holiday market and parade.
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Thirty miles southeast of Memphis is Holly Springs, Mississippi. Founded in 1836, the town has plenty of historic charm to offer visitors, especially around the holidays. The Christmas Tour of Homes and a parade through the historic downtown square are both favorite events.
Winter Park, Florida
For snowbirds looking to escape the cold, Winter Park is the spot. With average December temperatures hovering around a perfect sunny and 75, you couldn't ask for a better place to spend the season. Originally founded as a resort town, there's still plenty to do here, especially if you attend Winter on the Avenue, which includes everything from an ice-skating rink to manmade snow and visits from Santa.
We couldn't possibly forget our favorite day of feasting, and neither can the 300 residents of Turkey, Texas. Located in the Texas panhandle, this tiny town is best known as the home of Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing. We may love Christmas, but you'll never catch us skipping over Turkey Day!