When it’s Christmas time in Texas, it’s a very special time for… all of us.
A Texas Christmas is like no other: our fine state has its own holiday traditions, and for native Texans, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a warm breeze, decorated cedar trees, and a mingling of traditions – poinsettias and German carols, cowboy “sleigh” bells and buñuelos.
‘Tis true: a white Christmas will never be ours. Traditional pines don’t grow here (unless you’re in east Texas) and few of us have chimneys large enough to accommodate a portly Santa. But that doesn’t mean we lack in tradition; in fact, it means that we’ve created many of our very own traditions. Here are a few of our favorites:
Our German Roots
In the early to mid-1800s, German immigrants flocked to Texas. Nearly 200 years later, proud Texans still prefer their holiday with a side of German tradition: we string popcorn and cherish apples and oranges; we light candles on cedar trees and gobble down pfeffernuesses; we refer to Santa as Kris Kringle and sing carols like “stille Nacht, heilige Nacht.” Indeed, German tradition is still alive and well in Texas.
And Our Mexican Influence
Our southern neighbors have lent us many of their holiday traditions, too: tamales, and their associated tamalada parties; lighted luminarias and vibrant poinsettias; delicious buñuelos and rich Noche Buena. We’ve integrated the flavors and sounds of a Mexican Christmas into our own traditions, to such a degree that a crisp Noche Buena beer is the perfect complement to a dinner of bratwurst and sauerkraut.
Christmas on the range isn’t Christmas without remembering the cowboys. A century or two ago, Texas was still wide-open countryside; towns were separated from each other, and townsfolk rarely saw anyone but their own neighbors. The holidays were a rare and beloved time to socialize, with dances and food and festivities. Cowboys would ride all day – or more – to attend the festivities, and with them they’d bring their Christmas serenades (think carols with a Texas twang), cowbells instead of sleigh bells, and little trinkets to smuggle into children’s stockings.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that goes double for our holiday events and seasonal celebrations. In most towns and cities, our Christmas festivities take the form of tree-lightings, caroling, Christmas parades, festivals of light, candlelight tours, old-fashioned markets, and holiday plays. Truly, there’s something seasonal for every Texan to enjoy.
Holiday Trail of Lights
Speaking of seasonal festivities, one of Texas’s finest Christmas traditions is the Holiday Trail of Lights, which blazes a festive path through six cities and two states (it hops the border into Louisiana). If you have a yen for elaborate decorations and huge, sparkling Christmas trees, there’s nothing better than this enduring tradition. Hit up Kilgore, Jefferson, and Marshall to enjoy a Texas-sized dose of southern hospitality, twinkling lights, holiday parades, and much more.
Now you tell us: what are you favorite Texas Christmas and holiday traditions? What makes a Lone Star holiday?