Christmas 2011: Five festive holiday towns

North Pole, Alaska Flickr/Professor Megan

COMMENTARY As you probably can tell, the Christmas season is my favorite time of year. I love the decorations, the parties and the overall feeling of cheer in the air. The bad thing about Christmas is it only comes around once a year. But what if there was a place it lasted all year long?

There is. More than one place, in fact. These holiday towns have festive names and incorporate holiday traditions into everyday life. Some of these towns have even become tourist attractions based on their affiliation with Christmas and St. Nick.

North Pole, Alaska
Unlike some of the other places on this list, the town council of North Pole intended to give this city a name affiliated with Christmas. According to the town's website, the council hoped naming their rural city after the mythical home of Santa Claus would attract toy manufacturers wanting to advertise their toys as "made in the North Pole."

It didn't work, and the town remains a bedroom community for nearby Fairbanks. Visitors can enjoy the Christmas spirit all year round: North Pole boasts Christmas decorations 365 days a year, festive candy-cane light poles and the world-famous Santa Claus House.

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Rudolph, Wis.
This small Wisconsin town was not named after the famous reindeer. In fact, this dairy community was founded nearly a century before "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released. Once the song became a hit, however, the town of Rudolph became popular with kids at Christmas.

The town receives roughly 40,000 cards a year, sent from all over the world by children hoping their wish list will be passed along to Santa. Some send their cards to get them postmarked as coming from Rudolph before they send them to friends and relatives.

Santa Claus, Ind.
According to the town's website, Santa Claus was given its name by a young resident on Christmas Eve, 1852. Other sources say the town was originally called Santa Fe, and in 1856 a postmaster requested the town change its name.

Whatever the real story, Santa Claus is one of the most festive towns on this list. Visitors can experience the story of Rudolph played out in Christmas lights at the Santa Claus Land of Lights, or visit the Santa Claus Museum to learn about the town's history and the legend of St. Nick. But perhaps the best thing about this town is residents' letters are postmarked Santa Claus all year round -- a treat for any kid receiving mail, especially at Christmas.

Christmas 2011: Five festive holiday towns Snowflake, Arizona
Snowflake, Ariz.
Flickr/sgilsdorf

Christmas, Fla.
This festive town is named after Fort Christmas, which was built in 1837 during the Seminole Indian War. The original fort is long gone, but a replica in Fort Christmas Historical Park is open to visitors year round.

Christmas, Fla. is also home to the Christmas post office, which is decorated throughout the year with wreaths, lights and other festive decorations to get you in the holiday mood no matter what the temperature. During the holiday season, Florida residents come from all over to have their cards postmarked with the Christmas, Fla., stamp.

Snowflake, Ariz.
When you think of Arizona, you're probably not picturing snowy peaks and chilly temperatures. The original settlers weren't, either -- the town is named after the two original founders, Apostle Erastus Snow and William Flake. They founded Snowflake in 1878, and the town was finally incorporated in 1948.

Snowflake celebrates the season with 12 days of Christmas, a festival that culminates with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Heritage Square.

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No matter what the season, these festive towns will get you in the Christmas spirit all year round. If you're interested in making one of these seasonal cities home, head to Zillow's website and check out the real estate for sale in each location.

  • Ilyce Glink On Twitter»

    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated columnist, best-selling book author, and radio talk show host who also hosts "Expert Real Estate Tips," a Internet video show. She owns ThinkGlink.com as well as Think Glink Media, a privately held company that provides consulting, content and video services to companies and non-profit organizations.

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