The average American city jump-starts the holiday season with the usual kind of merry-making activities: Tree-lighting festivals, the opening of ice skating rinks and holiday concerts beckoning celebrants to get in the spirit.
But then there are cities and towns where the very name of the place conjures visions of sugar plum fairies, elves and reindeer 365 days a year. From Christmas Cove, ME to Saint Nicholas, PA and, of course, North Pole, AK, it’s hard not to adopt the yuletide glow.
Here’s a roundup of some of the most seasonal cities, and a sampling of their respective real estate.
North Pole, Alaska
History: The naming of this northern town was no accident. According to a National Geographic profile on the tiny city, the town council renamed it North Pole in 1952 (from “Davis Homestead”), “hoping that toy manufacturers would come for the “Made in North Pole” bragging rights despite its inconvenience … as a manufacturing site.” No companies came for the manufacturing rights, so North Pole remains as a bedroom community for nearby Fairbanks, which is located 14 miles away.
Holiday tradition: The North Pole’s claim to fame, of course, is its responsibility regarding children’s letters to Santa. Every year, North Pole middle and high school students respond to the letters that pour in.
This recently-constructed home sits in a newer North Pole subdivision with quick access to schools, shopping and perhaps, Santa’s workshop. The 3-bedroom, 2-bath home has 1,196 square feet of living space on nearly an acre-size plot.
History: Although this Wisconsin dairy community was not inspired by the red-nosed reindeer, it incorporated Rudolph in many seasonal festivities. The small town was actually named for the first male born in the community — Rudolph Hecox.
Holiday tradition: Like North Pole, AK, thousands of Christmas letters are sent to Rudolph each year. Other letters are directed through the village post office to get the postmark with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The town also features Rudolph on all of its street signs.
How about a Rudolph home with a lot big enough to host a team of reindeer? This 4-bedroom, 3-bath home sits on an acre of lakefront. The 4,400-square-foot home features a custom kitchen with granite counter tops and high-end appliances, stone fireplaces, media room and sauna.
Santa Claus, Indiana
History: The birthplace of good ol’ St. Nick? According to RoadsideAmerica.com, Santa Claus, IN was originally named Santa Fe and was asked by the postmaster in 1856 to change the name. At the time, the community couldn’t think of anything other than Santa Claus. Today the town completely capitalizes on its moniker with holiday-themed streets and St. Nick statues.
Holiday tradition: The Post Office is busy here too, postmarking over a half-million holiday cards and processing about 10,000 letters from children.
The newer-built home on the Santa Claus real estate market has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 1,445 square feet of living space on a large, level lot. The one-story house has an open floor plan and spacious master bedroom with walk-in closet and attached bath.
History: It’s an unusual city name, but this town’s history is rather basic. On December 25, 1837, at the height of the Second Seminole Indian War, American troops built a fort 20 miles east of Orlando. They named it Fort Christmas, which was later adapted into the small town’s name.
Holiday tradition: The city celebrates all year long with an enormous lighted and decorated tree display. The town’s postal staff also works overtime each season postmarking holiday cards.
The 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath home is a spacious ranch that sits on five acres and is a few miles southeast of nearby towns Chuluota and Oviedo. Built in 1988, the house has a large wrap-around front porch, mudroom, and updated solar-heated pool.
History: You may not think snow when you picture Arizona, but this small town is nestled just north of the White Mountains and gets an occasional dusting. The town wasn’t named for the winter weather, but rather for its two founders: Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake.
This brick colonial-style home is situated on a “mini ranch” with solar power and battery back-up. Built in 1995, the home has 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 3,367 square feet of living space.
History: Bethlehem, PA is by no means the only Bethlehem in the U.S. There are several scattered throughout the states, and nearly all are named for the ancient city in the Middle East.
Located in “prestigious Saucon Fields” neighborhood, this Bethlehem home is a far cry from a hay-strewn manger. The stone and stucco home has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2,562 sq ft of living space and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.
History: Like Evergreen, CO, Evergreen AL. was named by its greenery. The small town is located in central Alabama, about midway between Montgomery and Mobile.
Holiday tradition: In honor of the town’s name, Evergreen residents line their main street with over 30 decorated trees for the duration of the season.
Built in 1935, this 3-bedroom, 2-bath home has been remodeled and features refinished hardwood floors, crown moldings, and gas-log fireplace. A rear screened-in porch looks out over a backyard pond.