by Susan McCormick
Christmastime is magical, and Christmastime in a city is even more sparkly and exciting. I have lived in San Francisco, Washington DC, and Seattle, and love the traditions surrounding Christmas, some shared and universal, some unique to each city.
My Fog Ladies cozy mystery series, featuring spunky, suspicious senior sleuths and one overtired young medical resident, is set in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco. The young doctor enjoys a San Francisco Christmastime date, delighting in many of the city’s offerings. I have compiled a list of twelve Christmas traditions offered by San Francisco and Seattle in non-COVID times, and we can hope some will be back this year to ring in the season and bring us joy. Many of these activities are free, and some accept donations for worthy causes.
- Gingerbread creations – Shared by both cities. The distinguished Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco creates a two-story gingerbread house, the Westin in San Francisco fashions cookie and candy castles, and the Sheraton in Seattle hosts a veritable feast of edible, themed creations designed by Seattle architectural firms.
- Christmas Ships – Seattle’s Argosy Cruises sponsors ships to sail from beach to beach throughout the season, followed by locals in boats decorated and flashing, to entertain those on shore with caroling while enjoying a bonfire and cocoa. An absolute favorite tradition.
- Pathway of Lights – At Green Lake in Seattle, thousands of luminaries line the shore, carolers sing at every turn, and decorated kayaks float in the lake.
- Zoo Lights – Shared by both cities. The zoos decorate with lights of all shapes, animal and other, for after-hours enjoyment.
- Garden d’Lights – Seattle takes lights further, with the Bellevue Botanical Garden lighting up with flowers and plants created from lights. (Bellevue, WA)
- Clam Lights – Seattle goes even further, with more lights, including giant clams. (Renton, WA)
- Christmas trees – Shared by both cities. Enormous Christmas trees grace Union Square in San Francisco and Westlake Center in Seattle, trees with so many lights, you can’t see the tree.
- Caroling – Caroling is everywhere, but Seattle has a special tradition, the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition, where streets line with competing carolers, often in costume. Carolers are work groups, friends, family, all sorts of people and all levels of talent.
- Train – Seattle’s Seattle Center has an enormous train exhibit featuring an entire town in winter wonderland glory, and children and adults alike can take turns running the train around the town.
- Teddy Bears – Shared by both cities. Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel hosts the Teddy Bear Suite with hundreds of bears stuffed into a room, and the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco hosts a Teddy Bear Tea, with teddy bear treats.
- Ice skating – Shared by both cities. Skating is everywhere, but a special call out to skating at Union Square in San Francisco. Seattle has an ice-skating trail adorned with lights.
- Last but not least, puppies – San Francisco’s SPCA and Macy’s team up to bring a wonderful tradition of window displays featuring adoptable cats and dogs.
I hope you enjoy similar traditions in your hometown. Does your city or town have a unique Christmas tradition?
The Fog Ladies: Family Matters (A San Francisco Cozy Murder Mystery, Book 2) blurb:
Till death do us part, with kitchen shears. When a family man kills his wife, the Fog Ladies—spunky senior sleuths and one overtired, overstressed and newly suspicious young doctor living in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco—set out to discover the truth. Their probing finds the threat is perilously close to home, endangering another troubled family struggling to survive. Marriage can be deadly.
Susan McCormick is a writer and doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Susan served as a doctor in the U.S. Army for nine years before moving to the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the Fog Ladies series, she also wrote Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She is part of The Cozy Mystery Quartet, with YouTube podcasts about all things cozy, for authors and for readers. She lives in Seattle with her husband, two sons, and, until recently, a giant Newfoundland dog, Albert.