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The History of Christmas, Michigan

According to a poll taken earlier this year, Christmas is the favorite town name in the Upper Peninsula.

Here is a map of Christmas for those of you from outside of the Upper Peninsula who may not be familiar with Christmas. It is located NW of Munising, about a 5-minute drive along M-28.

The town of Christmas has booming population of about 400. Ok, perhaps it’s not “booming”, but on a business night at the Kewadin Casino (by far the largest building in town that looks kind of strange and out of place in such a small town) the population probably grows by some pretty significant percentage points.

According to Exploring the North the town was given its name in 1938 when a Munising man started a roadside factory to make holiday gifts.

Christmas’ zip code is 49862, and many letters have come from there since 1966 when the town received it’s first Post Office. From that point forward many people have showed up in the month of December to mail their Christmas cards and presents so they would be postmarked coming from Christmas.

Christmas is also located near the Bay Furnace campgrounds on Lake Superior in the Hiawatha National Forest. From 1869 to 1877, the campground was the site of Onota, an iron smelting town with a population of 517. The town was destroyed by fire in 1877 and only the iron kiln ruins remain. While in operation, Bay Furnace produced 20 tons of pig iron a day. Ships came to the 1200 foot dock bringing supplies and taking out pig iron. Bay Furnace is on the National Register of Historic Places.

And of course, anyone who has driven through Christmas hasn’t missed the 35-foot tall Santa Claus.

Santa Claus

The town of Christmas isn’t unique to Michigan. But as far as I know Michigan’s Christmas is the only one with a 35-foot tall Santa Claus. Here is a list of 8 other Christmas towns.

  • Christmas, Arizona
  • Christmas, Florida
  • Christmas, Kentucky
  • Christmas, Mississippi
  • Christmas City, Utah
  • Christmas Cove, Maine
  • Christmas Valley, Oregon
  • Christmasville, Tennessee

There is also a slough of other towns with Christmas-related names such as Noel, Holiday, Santa, North Pole, Mistletoe, and many more.

9 Wonderful Comments

  1. Very interesting! We have camped at the Bay Furnace campground (including you!) many years ago!

  2. Angelia Zecca
    Jan 2, 2010

    Hello from Christmas, MI. Just wanted to thank you for running the story about our little town, but I did notice a mistake in the location you gave out. You said we are a 5 minute drive along US 41 to Munising and we are actually on M-28, would it be possible to correct this?? THank You in advance Angelia

  3. Christmas made a huge impression on my the very first time I drove through. It snowed–in July.

    I still decided to go to college at Mi Tech so drove through many, many times on the commute from down-state.

  4. I can remember being a kid back in the 60s we would rent cabins in Christmas. This was our home away from home for 2 weeks and if i remember the lady the owe the cabin and my mother became best of friends

  5. I’m guilty. When I was stationed at KI Sawyer, every December I would drive over to Christmas to get my cards postmarked..

  6. marsha wisenbaugh boltz
    Apr 16, 2015

    my dad, leonard wisenbaugh, helped erect the 35 foot santa. when they first put it up, they put it up backwards! the santa was pointing at the road! they had to take it down and put it up the correct way. i was 8 years old!

  7. thanks for all the info I am doing a report on Michigan and will totally talk about Christmas, Michigan. :D

  8. George S Mitchell Jr.
    Dec 9, 2016

    I just wanted to add that it was my Grandfather, George J. Mitchell who was the man from Munising that started the roadside factory. The 1940 census clearly shows him living there in the factory with my Grandmother and my Dad and his Sister. They remembered the night the fire burned down the factory. The story goes that it was my Aunt (10 years old at the time) was the one who woke everyone up and saved the family.

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