Do You Know What State These Christmas Traditions Are From?



By: Laura DeFazio

6 Min Quiz

Image: dszc/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Traditionally, Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. For many practicing Christians, it involves attending Mass, listening to a sermon detailing Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, decorating with a Nativity scene and perhaps singing traditional hymns.

As Christianity spread across the globe, the diversity of cultures it encompassed meant that celebrations varied considerably region by region. Many countries' "Christmas" traditions were influenced by or taken directly from winter solstice celebrations of the pre-Christian religions native to the particular regions. Some customs remained particular to their places of origin, whereas others gained popularity around the world. Modern use of the Christmas tree, for instance, had its origins in the snowy, forested country of Germany, when devout Christians started bringing evergreens into their homes in the 15th century. The legend of Santa Claus is often traced back to the monk St. Nicholas, born in modern-day Turkey around 280 A.D. and known for giving away his wealth to the poor and aiding the sick.

Although the US is a comparatively young country and you might expect the seasonal celebrations to be fairly uniform, there's still a surprising variety across states, thanks to the country's diverse immigrant background and its own quirky history. For many folks, it's a secular holiday. Unexpected foodstuffs, one-of-a-kind festivals, unconventional "trees" ... Can you guess where they're from? Strap on your jingle bells and take this quiz to find out.

Every year, residents of this state try to beat the record held in Bangkok, Thailand for most elves in one place. Do you know the state?

Elfapalooza, one of the world's largest congregations of elves, is held every year in Mobile, Alabama. Residents are trying their darndest to break the Guinness World Record for most elves in one place. To be counted, participants must wear both red and green and have pointy ears.


Do you know which state is home to the world's largest tumbleweed Christmas tree?

Started by Earl Barnum in 1957, this popular yuletide tourist attraction has been a tradition in Chandler, Arizona for over 60 years. Construction on the "tree" begins each season in September with all sorts of folks pitching in to collect tumbleweeds.


Over 80 churches in this state with Russian Orthodox roots celebrate Christmas celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar, on Jan. 7. Do you know which state it is?

Orthodox Christians in Alaska attend a mass during which stars they have brought are blessed, and then they spend the next several days "starring" at the houses of their friends and families and neighbors, i.e. dropping by with their stars to sing carols and spread good cheer.


Christmas in this state is often celebrated with luaus, roasted pig, surfing and ukulele music. Can you guess it?

Christmas was first introduced to the Hawaiian islands in the 1800s by Protestant missionaries. It coincided with Makahiki, the traditional four-month New Year festival season, and the two become tied together. In modern times, Santa Claus is often seen in an outrigger canoe pulled by dolphins.


The town of Christmas celebrates the season all year long with a Christmas tree and decorations up 12 months a year. Do you know which state it's in?

Many tourists visit Christmas, Florida during the holiday season in order to send greetings cards postmarked "Christmas." As of the 2010 census, about 1,150 people live there year-round. It's also the home to the world's largest alligator-shaped building.


Families in this state light bonfires along the banks of the Mississippi River so that Papa Noel doesn't get lost. Do you know which state it is?

Louisiana's Cajun families living in the riverside communities light bonfires to guide Santa Claus (called "Papa Noel" in French) down the Mississippi. He's often depicted riding in a pirogue (a canoe) pulled by alligators.


What could be more festive than roaming the lantern-lit streets of Greenfield Village, exchanging holiday greetings with period actors and enjoying the many attractions this living history museum has to offer? Do you know which state it's located in?

At this remarkable attraction, visitors can take a ride in a real Model T Ford, watch baseball from 1867, order lunch from an 1830 menu, blow glass, watch workers in a smithy and observe the happenings on a working farm. The holiday season is a particularly enchanting time to visit.


The Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad's Santa Express gives kids a chance to meet Santa and enjoy stories, hot cocoa and cookies along the way. Which state does it travel through?

The railroad operates out of Boone, Iowa and features various other special attraction rides for all ages. There's a "Pumpkin Special" Halloween ride, a Thomas the Tank Engine trip, tours to old coal mining towns and dinner excursions. Views along the way are spectacular.


Turkey or pheasant might come to mind first when you think "Christmas," but in which state are you likeliest to find seafood on the menu?

On a traditional Maine holiday menu, you could see eel, lobster, seafood chowder, shrimp cocktail and more. A "Holiday Planked Pollock" recipe in the a Maine Department of Marine Resources pamphlet featured fish baked with mashed potatoes, stuffed tomatoes and cauliflower.


During the holiday season, travelers to this state are likely to see an abundance of wreaths made from dried red chilis. Can you name it?

Every autumn, "ristras" (chilis hung from strings to dry them out) can be seen around New Mexico. Come holiday time, ristras are made into wreaths, and the bright red color adds holiday cheers to doors and windows across the state.


Which state is your best bet if you want to celebrate the season with a rich meal of black-eyed peas, collard greens and pecan pie?

Popular across the American South, black-eyed peas are actually beans, and they're eaten at the new year in particular to bring good luck. This practice is said to date back to the Civil War, when Union armies raiding Confederate supplies left the black-eyed peas untouched, assuming they were just animal feed.


In this state's former capital (St. Charles), you can hear candlelit readings of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" every Wednesday and Friday between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, at the site of the old capitol building. Can you name it?

The readings are a popular part of the month-long "St. Charles Christmas Traditions," which also feature a tree-lighting ceremony, a Santa parade, a production of "A Christmas Carol," evening candlelit processionals and more. Today, Missouri's capital is Jefferson City.


Whiskey-soaked fruitcake is a popular yuletide dessert in which state?

A traditional Kentuckian Christmas fruitcake recipe might call for flour, butter, egg yolks, raisins, pecans, candied cherries, nutmeg, brown sugar and (of course) the state's iconic whiskey variety, bourbon.


Adrenaline junkies flock to this state every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas to celebrate the winter season with an ice-climbing festival. Can you name the state?

The Bozeman Ice Festival in Bozeman, Montana brings together many of the best ice climbers in the world. It also features seminars, clinics, parties and an adventure/climbing-centric film festival that runs at the same time.


Residents of this state celebrate the season by decorating the mansion where famed bison hunter, soldier and western-themed showman "Buffalo Bill" Cody once lived. Can you name the state?

The famed Buffalo Bill lived in North Platte, Nebraska with his wife Louisa in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today, North Platte locals visit his old homestead during the holidays to drink hot cider, eat cookies and roast chestnuts.


In which state can you spy Santa Claus scuba diving at Camden's Adventure Aquarium?

In New Jersey, you can see Santa swimming with all sorts of sea creatures in the aquarium -- hat and beard and flippers and all! The Camden Adventure Aquarium also boasts the world's tallest Christmas tree, at 18 feet tall.


In which state can you cheer Santa on as he rappels down the 315-foot face of the famed Chimney Rock?

Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina is replete with hiking trails, nature walks and gorgeous views. Visit in the summer for blooming flowers, in the fall for striking foliage or the holiday season to see Santa do what he does best, climb down chimneys.


Where can you attend the "Old Fashioned Cowboy Christmas"?

This festival takes place in historic Medora, North Dakota, featuring cowboy poetry readings, a cowboy supper and various other special meals, music, shows, Mass and more. The decor is western-themed, and the views of the area's buttes are stunning.


In which state can you visit a chocolate factory whose cactus garden is adorned with over one million Christmas lights?

The Ethel M Chocolate Factory in Henderson, Nevada provides visitors with one of the most interesting holiday outing experiences, combining sweet treats, festive lights and the unique beauty of desert flora.


In this state, the largest remaining water-powered gristmill (for grinding grain) in America is lit up with 3.5 million lights every holiday season. Can you name the state?

This spectacle can be beheld at the Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio. Although mills have been used since ancient times, the process of grinding grain was revolutionized in 1787 by Oliver Evans and his invention of the automatic water-powered gristmill. Modern mills are generally powered by electricity or fossil fuels.


In Guthrie, the "Christmas Capitol" of this state, residents celebrate an old-fashioned "Territorial Christmas," featuring Victorian costumes, a Christmas organ concert and tours of historic homes. Do you know the state?

Oklahoma is home to the Territorial Christmas, a festival that celebrates the state's Victorian history. Today, the annual parade is a major part of the festivities, with adorned cars, dune buggies and horses. It started out more simply, as a way to introduce the Territorial governor candidates.


In which state can you imbibe good cheer at the 23-year-old Holiday Ale Festival?

Portland, Oregon's boozy holiday celebration features over 50 exclusive beers and ciders available on tap for attendees to sample. They're served up in a heated tent under the city's giant Christmas tree.


Which state's Amish Country celebrates the season by displaying a 110-point Mennonite Star?

The Amish are a group of Christians known for their simple living, strong work ethics and aversion to much modern technology. In Pennsylvania's Amish Country, Christmas is celebrated with the display of the elaborate star, the creation of religious tableaus and more.


In which state can you pass Christmas at Elvis' house?

Elvis' fabled mansion "Graceland" is decked to the nines every holiday season with a life-sized Nativity scene, hundreds of blue lights lining the driveway and abundant Presley family memorabilia. Visitors can purchase Christmas packages that include tours, CDs and a stay at Elvis' Heartbreak Hotel.


Do you know which state was the first to make Christmas a legal holiday in 1836?

Although the hot and sunny south perhaps isn't the first region to come to mind when we think of the winter holidays, Christmas in Dixie actually preceded the white Christmases up north, at least from a legal standpoint. Louisiana and Arkansas followed suit a couple of years later.


In the town of Stockbridge, you can stroll up and down a picturesque, wintry Main Street made famous by a Norman Rockwell painting. Do you know which state Stockbridge is located in?

In 1967, Norman Rockwell painted "Home for Christmas (Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas)," immortalizing the quaint New England town. Today, residents and visitors celebrate the season with a a three-day festival of lights, holiday readings, caroling and house tours.


Many of this state's residents honor their Swedish heritage on Christmas by toasting each other with milk, the state's official beverage.

In addition to the milk toasts, children further honor their Scandinavian roots by dressing up as "tomtar," a type of mischievous imp or gnome associated with the winter season that must be offered food on Christmas Eve lest they cause trouble.


Where can you hear the 360 members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform a jaw-dropping Christmas concert?

Hear "Handel's Messiah" and other Christmas traditionals performed in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Mormon capital of the country. The choir members are joined by hundreds of additional musicians, dancers, bell-ringers and actors.


In which state can you visit George Washington's estate, all decked out for the holidays as it would have been when he lived there in the 1700s?

George Washington's Virginia home, Mount Vernon, is a fascinating holiday attraction. Enjoy conversations with period actors, fifing demonstrations and a holiday meal like one the first president himself would have enjoyed. And don't miss "Aladdin," the modern-day incarnation of the camel George kept around to impress his visitors.


In historic Fairmount, residents can celebrate their Italian roots with a "Feast of the Seven Fishes" festival. In which state is Fairmount located?

West Virginia is home to a vibrant Italian-American community. The Feast of the Seven Fishes has its roots in southern Italy of centuries past, where Christians would eat seven different types of seafood, following an Italian Catholic tradition of abstaining from red meat on the eve of festival days.


In which state can you see the "1000 Faces of Santa Claus," a collection of rare Santa figures and images from around the world?

The collection is displayed at the Paul Smith Children's Village in the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. Most of the Santas are from the 20th century, and many are non-traditional depictions. They were collected by a world traveler named Thom Wise.


Where are you likeliest to enjoy (or not enjoy ...) a lutefisk dinner this holiday season?

This traditional Nordic fish dish has become common across Minnesota due to the state's large Scandinavian population. Lutefisk is a white fish that ends up with the consistency of jello after it's been soaked in water for several days and treated with lye.


In this state, it's not just about St. Nick; kids can't wait to meet the Fairy Princess either! Can you name the state?

The Fairy Princess tradition started at Kline's Department Store in 1936, because its Jewish owners wanted to have a non-denominational figure handing out gifts. Young women dressed up as fairy princesses to give children toys from a secret treasure chest.


2019 marks the 23rd annual "Inn to Inn Cookie Crawl," a festive community event that lets folks sample homemade cookies and hot cocoa at various inns and B&Bs around this state:

About a dozen inns will participate this year. Patrons must be guests at one of the participating inns in order to be guaranteed admittance to the crawl. The event is popular because it allows guests to meet and mingle with guests at other inns.


The extensive Trail of Holiday Lights connects one end of this state to the other. Can you name it?

The Trail is in its 20th year. It brings together various communities across the state with a plethora of festivals, light shows, concerts, events and good cheer that take place throughout November and December along its course.


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