The holiday season in the United States can be overwhelming, even for those who have participated in it many times. If you’re experiencing an American Christmas for the first time, the shopping marathons, bright light displays, and gift exchanges can be difficult to adjust to.
In the US, Christmas can be a month-long event that can be hard to avoid when the vast majority of Americans celebrate it. Many homes will be decked out with images of Santa Claus, decorated trees in their living rooms, cookies left out on Christmas Eve, and festive lights everywhere.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, the common tie for everyone in the United States is enjoying some time off from long and hectic work schedules to celebrate and spend time with family and friends.
Oklahoma City Christmas Traditions
Oklahoma really starts to feel festive when you see the crosses illuminated on the Oklahoma City skyline and you hear the BC Clark Jewelers Anniversary Sale jingle on the radio and TV.
We could write a whole article just about the effect that the BC Clark jingle has had on Oklahoma, but instead we’re just going to leave you with the jingle. Considered an Oklahoman Christmas carol, you can listen to it and learn more about the history of the jingle here. Ask any Oklahoman about the BC Clark jingle, and they can no doubt sing the song from memory. By the end of the Christmas season, you’ll probably be singing it too.
History of the Oklahoma City Christmas Spirit
There was a period in Oklahoma City’s history where most of the Christmas festivities took place at a local shopping mall instead of the downtown area. However, over the past decade, the city has made significant efforts to bring the holiday spirit back to downtown OKC.
You can read more about the history of Christmas celebrations in OKC in this article about how downtown Oklahoma City rediscovered its Christmas spirit. Be sure to view the photo gallery at the bottom of the article to see how downtown OKC looked back in the 1930s at Christmas time.
Downtown Oklahoma City Christmas Events
Downtown Oklahoma City offers a wide variety of Christmas festivities. Create new traditions with your family and friends by trying out all that the city has to offer at this time of year.
Downtown in December, local companies and organizations host a series of Christmas-inspired activities. Below are some of their most popular events.
Ice skating: Every holiday season, the Seasonal Plaza at the Myriad Gardens transforms into the Devon Ice Rink. Right in downtown OKC, you can skate across 5,500 square feet and enjoy seasonal food and drinks. Admission is $13 including skate rental, or $8 if you bring your own skates.
Pop-up shops: Christmas season in OKC wouldn’t be the same without the pop-up shops at the Deluxe Winter Market and in Midtown. The pop-up shops feature amazing local retailers, so you’ll be sure to find the perfect gifts for your family and friends.
Myriad Gardens: Myriad Gardens is a great place to visit during the Christmas season. On Sundays in December, admission to the Crystal Bridge is free, and on Saturdays, families can visit with Santa Claus at the outdoor Meinders Terrace for free family photos. Other offerings include nature walks and craft sessions for both kids and adults. To view all of the holiday events at Myriad Gardens this season, click here.
Christmas tree lighting: The Annual Bricktown Tree Lighting Festival started in 2002 and has grown since then to include food trucks, activities for kids, music, and more. The festival is free and takes place at the 3rd Base Plaza at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Friday, November 24th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Free boat rides: The Bricktown water taxi offers free rides from November 24th to December 31st, Thursday through Saturday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The narrated water taxi ride starts at the dock below Brickopolis and is 20–30 minutes long.
The Nutcracker: The Nutcracker ballet is synonymous with the Christmas season in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Ballet performs this famous Russian production at the downtown Civic Center every holiday season, accompanied by music from the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
Automobile Alley Light Display: Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit by cruising down Broadway Avenue through Automobile Alley, enjoying the display of over 180,000 colorful lights. This free display lights up November 18th to January 1st.
Sledding at the ballpark: A 70-degree day in the middle of December? No problem! You can still take part in snowy festivities at the Chickasaw Baseball Park, which hosts the only manmade snow slopes in the region. You can enjoy snow tubing at $13 for a single session.
Horse-drawn carriages: This event is available all year round in Bricktown, but there’s just something extra special about doing it during the Christmas season. You can pick up a ride in front of the Mickey Mantle statue in front of the ballpark downtown.
Find out more about all these events here.
Light Displays around the Oklahoma City Metro
Some other OKC Christmas traditions outside of downtown Oklahoma City include the Christmas light displays in Midwest City, Yukon, and Chickasha.
Midwest City’s website boasts that their Holiday Light Spectacular “has grown to be the largest animated lights display in a five-state region with more than 100 animated light displays. The 1.5-mile long drive boasts over one million lights in the heart of Joe B. Barnes Regional Park.” The event is free, but donations are welcome.
Yukon’s Christmas in the Park spans over 100 acres with dazzling Christmas light displays. Whether you decide to drive through, walk through or even ride the train, this event should be on your list of things to do during the holiday season. The event is free, but donations are welcome.
Chickasha’s Festival of Light is impressive. The four miles of light displays has been recognized as one of the top ten holiday light shows in the nation and features over 3.5 million twinkling lights. Admission to this event is free as well, but donations are welcome.
Sharing Your Holiday Traditions
We encourage you to ask your new American friends and coworkers how they celebrate Christmas or share with them how you celebrated holidays in your country. Christmas can be a learning experience. Your questions and conversations encourage everyone to get to know each other and their cultures better.
Use this season as a reason to invite your new American friends over to share a meal. Take some ideas from our Supper Club post and host a potluck including different holiday food traditions from each guest. Not sure where to get ingredients for your favorite family dish? Check out our blog post about the best ethnic grocery stores in Oklahoma City.
It’s common in the United States, but not required, to exchange gifts with neighbors, coworkers, and friends. If you have an American friend you would like to give a Christmas gift to, consider giving something that represents your country. What about a handcrafted piece of art or a traditional dessert? Something that shares a piece of your personal history and country would be an exceptional gift.
Since an American Christmas is a melting pot of traditions from all over the world, you can feel comfortable incorporating your own holiday traditions into this time of year.
Christmas in the United States is unlike Christmas in any other country. Over the last century, Christmas has evolved to include so many traditions from a wide variety of cultures and religions. We take those traditions and customs and meld them together to create a bigger, louder, and flashier version of Christmas in a truly American way.
In that sense, Christmas is American as you can get.