Our favorite season is upon us, bringing joy to many homes and hearts. It’s the time when, despite the darker part of the year, our homes become more alive than ever, honoring the Christmas spirit. Its ancient roots are entangled in every stone and pebble of the Holy City, now covered with sparkling white lights and holiday decorations. Whether you’re moving to Charleston or visiting family and friends for the holidays, you'll get to experience many beautiful things this winter season. Every new place has local customs and traditions, including this magnificent historical city. Therefore, here’s what to know and expect when spending Christmas in Charleston.
When Christmas first came to Charleston
South Carolina is rich in history, where Charleston played a key role in recognizing Christmas as a legal holiday in the 19 century. Its first settlers in the 17 century were English, making the majority of city residents, followed by German, Irish, French, Scots, and Dutch immigrants in later periods. Since all these diverse newcomers were of the Protestant religion, Santa Claus and St. Nicolas were unknown until the late nineteenth century.
Still, some old traditions of celebrating holidays with fireworks, firecrackers, and firing guns were mentioned even in mid-18-century records. Towns' government outlawed this noisy practice in 1750 after several accidents these dangerous habits caused.
Christmas in Charleston brought many European traditions. However, the diversity and blend of cultures from different parts of the Old Continent made it a unique variation of the holiday, as we know it today. It took a while for some Christmas customs to become popular. In addition, some of them turned into unique traditions typical of this place.
The city breathes tradition
Many years ago, leaving an orange or a lemon in children's stockings was a common Southern Carolina Christmas tradition. It may sound like a prank, but citrus used to be a luxury, especially out of season. Nowadays, people of Charleston exchange different types of gifts, but citrus fruits are still an essential part of the Christmas tradition. They are symbolic holiday decorations inside and outside of many historic homes.
Also, Christmas in Charleston won’t be complete if you don’t take a walk through Downtown or visit one of the museum houses. The combination of magnificent historic architecture, landmarks, and festive lights would leave everyone breathless. In addition, if you're a history buff, the city provides many landmark tours that will introduce you to the Charleston rich past.
The winter in Charleston is cool but not very cold. So, if you enjoy the outdoors, and want to get away from holiday euphoria, take a walk on the nearby beach. The peaceful and soothing sound of the ocean induces serene feelings, and sometimes the water is almost warm enough to dip your toes in it.
Southern Christmas is not complete without a specific selection of holiday dishes. Fresh oyster is a popular treat throughout the entire year. However, its peak popularity is during Christmas, since winter harvest is the most fruitful for oysters. The origin of eating oysters for Christmas came from the 1800s when Irish settlers brought it to Charleston. In addition, deep-frying a turkey and delicious pecan pie as a dessert are inevitable parts of the holiday feast. This old tradition has spread across the country. Thus, you can find such dishes in every Southern home, along with other festive food.
The magical Holiday Festival of Lights
Spending Christmas in Charleston is not complete before you experience the magic at James Island County Park. This annual family event provides immense fun for all ages, featuring over 750 light displays, gift shops, train rides, sand sculptures, and delicious treats. However, the Festival of Light is just a fragment of many festive events in the city. Maybe instead of family fun, you prefer spending the holiday in a wine and chocolate tasting event. Or, perhaps a Candlelight Orchestra Concert is more to your liking? No matter where you came from, there is something for everyone in the Lowcountry.
Your first Christmas in Charleston
If you've recently moved to a new home in Charlton, what better way to honor the city than to celebrate its old local ways. Make Christmas special by decorating your home and Christmas tree differently. Without a doubt, using citruses as decoration will bring a pleasant aroma to your home. However, this might not be practical as it seems. The fruit is heavy, so it can take a toll on your tree. Thus, opt for making a DIY Christmas tree decor from citrus peels. Alternatively, make DIY citrus candles or arrange a decor palette to match the fruit. Unlike other organic decorations, citrus fruit is resilient and reusable if dried well. So you can store them along with other Christmas decorations. If you protect them well, you can keep them safe after the holidays are over and use them again next year.
Enjoy the best holiday shopping experience
Buying Christmas gifts for your loved ones can be overwhelming. However, Charleston offers the best holiday shopping experience with its many antique, art, fashion, and handmade shops. Charleston City Market is the city's main visitor attraction, where you can buy superb food and souvenirs, such as benne wafers, sweetgrass baskets, wooden wind chimes, and many other items. And if you're a night owl during Saturdays and Sundays, you'll get to visit a Night Market and hear the local live music gigs.
While enjoying the seasonal discounts, make sure to stop by for lunch at some of the local restaurants. The culinary scene in the city is top-notch. Therefore, make sure to taste some of the best traditional Southern and festive meals.
A speedy summary
Christmas in Charleston provides numerous holiday commemorations, musical performances, holiday markets, light displays, and city tours. The most magical time of the year makes this historic city even more appealing. Thus, a simple walk through the streets of Downtown will put you in the brightest holiday spirit.