The Twinkling Trail of Tradition

The Twinkling Trail of Tradition

  • Emily Corning
  • 12/5/23

Portland, Oregon, known for its lush greenery and vibrant culture, has a rich history of celebrating Christmas. From its early beginnings as a frontier town to the bustling city it is today, the holiday season has always held a special place in the hearts of Portlanders. In this blog post, we'll embark on a journey through time to uncover the fascinating history of Christmas celebrations in Portland, Oregon.

Early Christmas Traditions

The history of Christmas in Portland dates back to the mid-19th century when the city was a frontier settlement. Early pioneers and settlers celebrated the holiday with simple gatherings, often centered around their church communities. Christmas trees, if available, were adorned with handmade ornaments, and children eagerly awaited visits from St. Nicholas.

The Arrival of Multnomah Falls Lodge

One of the significant milestones in Portland's Christmas history was the completion of the Multnomah Falls Lodge in 1925. This iconic lodge, nestled in the Columbia River Gorge, became a popular destination for holiday celebrations. Its rustic charm, roaring fireplace, and breathtaking views of the falls made it a perfect spot for festive gatherings. Even today, visiting Multnomah Falls during the holiday season is a cherished tradition for many Portland families.

Pioneer Courthouse Square: A New Christmas Tradition

The 1980s saw the birth of a new holiday tradition in Portland with the construction of Pioneer Courthouse Square, often referred to as "Portland's Living Room." Every year, the square transforms into a winter wonderland with the lighting of a massive Christmas tree, a tradition that began in 1984. The lighting ceremony, attended by thousands of spectators, marks the official start of the holiday season in the city.

ZooLights and Peacock Lane

Portland's iconic holiday light displays have also played a significant role in the city's Christmas celebrations. The Oregon Zoo's "ZooLights" event, which began in the late 1980s, features over a million lights and festive displays. Families stroll through the illuminated zoo grounds, marveling at the dazzling spectacle.

Similarly, the historic Peacock Lane in Southeast Portland has been lighting up the neighborhood with its iconic Christmas decorations since the 1920s. Known for its charming Tudor-style houses adorned with elaborate light displays, Peacock Lane is a beloved destination for holiday enthusiasts.

The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition

Another unique tradition in Portland is the annual "Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition." This event, inspired by Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," features choirs and caroling groups from all over the city competing for the title of the best carolers. The competition raises funds for local nonprofit organizations and adds to the city's festive spirit.

The history of Christmas celebrations in Portland, Oregon, is a tale of tradition, community, and the enduring spirit of the holiday season. From its modest beginnings as a pioneer settlement to the vibrant and diverse city it is today, Portland has embraced Christmas with open arms. Whether it's the lighting of the Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square, the enchanting displays at Peacock Lane, or the heartwarming caroling competition, these traditions continue to bring joy and warmth to the hearts of Portlanders. As the city's holiday celebrations evolve, one thing remains constant—the spirit of togetherness and the joy of the season in this Pacific Northwest gem.

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