Article by Grace Carroll and Natalie Laird

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Everyone celebrates Christmas in different ways, but North Carolina has some incredible ways to celebrate! From their famous competitions to coffee and sugar cake in old Salem. Let me give you some background on some of the crowd-favorite & timeless traditions in North Carolina.

Old Salem’s famous candle tea has been a crowd favorite for locals for over 90 years. This event is often known for its ambrosial handmade beeswax candles. This experience is unlike any other Salem sight. The beautiful hymns of your favorite Christmas songs played on a completely authentic Tannenburg organ. Their one and only “putz” (a reenactment of the beautiful town of old Salem.) is sure to put a smile on those of all ages. After a delicious slice of sugar cake and sweet Moravian coffee, you conclude with a beautiful nativity scene. This cozy event started in 1929.  In celebration of the advent season, 16 years after Winston-Salem was united.
Learn more about Old Salem’s Moravian traditions here.

Every holiday season, the gorgeous McAdenville is lit up by the Christmas spirit. But it wasn’t always this way. Post world war I, McAdenville had almost gone bankrupt due to the economic turmoil of the great depression. However, William Pharr had a way. After buying out the beautiful brick homes & mills that lie in the gorgeous city, Pharr brought jobs and light to the small town. In 1956, community members offered to decorate around the settlement in hopes of bringing hope & festive cheer. Over the years, more joy and excitement were brought to the community. Through colorful lights, and greenery. Today, McAdenville feels like it was taken straight out of a film. Its festive beauty completely captures the merry essence of the holidays.
Learn more about the history of Christmas Town USA here

A rather popular tradition is the Gingerbread house competition. Every year adults, teens, and children compete in a challenge to display a handmade gingerbread house. Along with the experience, another reason people compete is the $40,000 in prizes. It has been voted the favorite tradition in Asheville and has been taking place for over 25 years. It is now covered by NBC’s ‘Today Show’ , ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ , The Food Network, and the Travel Channel! The competition originated in 1992 when a small group of community members built gingerbread houses as another way to celebrate the holiday season. Now, nearly 30 years later it is one of the most adored holiday traditions in North Carolina.

Learn more about the Asheville Gingerbread house competition here

But one of the most famous traditions (and a teacher’s favorite) is the Tanglewood Lights. The Tanglewood lights in Clemmons are a display of lights celebrating the holidays. The lights have 180 exhibits, and the route is 4 miles. But the tradition originated in 1992 because of a grant donated to the Z. Smith Reynolds Charitable Trust, different funds raised by the Tanglewood Park Foundation. Their 10th anniversary in 2001 had around 300,000 visitors to honor those who died in 911. But now The Tanglewood Lights Festival is voted “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” and “Top 100 Events in North America” Davie High science teacher Jason Ward said: “I dont go to a lot around Christmas time but the festival of lights would be my favorite. The traffic is bad, but it’s worth it because of how beautiful they are.” 

Learn more about The Tanglewood Festival of Lights here

Overall, North Carolina has a fun history and different traditions that light up the holidays and make them better. But these are just a few of the many fun and interesting traditions that NC has to offer!