Christmas Parade, 1954

Christmas in Wake Forest – A Cheatsheet on Local Holiday Traditions

When the bells jingle and the lights twinkle it’s Christmas Time in Wake Forest–and that means a virtual Santa’s sleigh of town traditions that got their start alongside the Old Campus.

Those were the days when everyone hit South White Street for their holiday shopping. Small Business Saturday was pretty much happening every day, and Florida oranges or a little red wagon seemed like a perfect gift.

South White Street remains the heart of Wake Forest, a uniquely charming historic downtown where the merchants are welcoming, the shopping is fun, and everyone’s always glad to see you.

Nowadays, December is time to check out the gorgeous shop window at B&W Hardware… loved by residents and visitors alike for the throwback perfection that transforms the storefront into a retro-holiday landmark each and every year.

Back in the Old Campus era, it was around 1950 when the town finally established a full slate of festivities to observe the holiday season. Favorites included the downtown Christmas Parade, the Christmas Tea, and the Community Christmas Dinner. Various Civic clubs hosted their own parties as well, and so did the Wake Forest College fraternities.

While all along the streets of town, families gathered to eat, drink, and be merry in homes beautifully decorated for the season.

Because it’s that kind of town, many of these traditions remain. The Wake Forest Christmas Parade is a huge favorite and this year will wind its way through the historic downtown on December 9th, which we hope will turn out to be a suitably chilly but sunshiny day.

The Wake Forest Community Christmas Dinner–first held in 1947 to welcome home returning World War II veterans– is marking its 70th anniversary by doing absolutely nothing different. The dinner, always on the first Monday in December, is scheduled for December 4th this year. It takes place at 6:30 pm at the Forks Cafeteria on S. Brooks Street with a menu that includes fried chicken and broccoli casserole.

Tickets are $15 through the last week of November at the Wake Forest Historical Museum, the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Forks.

And in the month of December, the historic Calvin Jones House–the birthplace of Wake Forest University–is decked in period-accurate seasonal decor, visitors are welcome during regular museum hours, and tours (as always) are free.

Truly, we have a whole lot of Christmas happening in this town… and a whole lot of history, as well.

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