National Illinois Day reminds us to put up Christmas decorations

Illinois flag flies on a Craftsman Bungalow house

Happy National Illinois Day!

Also known as the “Oops, I haven’t put up my Christmas decorations yet” day. It’s December 7th, and if you’re anything like me, you’re now realizing it’s officially one week into December. Yes, that means National Illinois Day doubles as a friendly nudge to put up your Christmas decorations.

Nobody thinks about Illinois

In the bustling life of Chicago, National Illinois Day often slips under our radar. It’s ironic how we, immersed in our vibrant city life, sometimes forget we’re part of a larger community – the great state of Illinois.

This realization hit me over the weekend at a wedding in central Illinois. A relative recently moved to the East Coast. He mentioned “coming back to Illinois.” As a Chicagoan, I seldom phrase it that way. It seems that in central Illinois, the state identity resonates more strongly.

Illinois, the heartland of Thanksgiving

Today isn’t just about Illinois’ claim to fame as the top producer of pumpkins and horseradish, or our lingering love for pumpkins that keeps our Thanksgiving decorations up longer. It’s about celebrating Illinois’ rich legacy, the land of Lincoln, the president who made Thanksgiving a national holiday. In a sense, Illinois is the heartland of Thanksgiving.

Illinois and Santa

Raising the Illinois flag today symbolizes more than state pride; it marks a transition from autumnal pumpkins to festive inflatable Santa Clauses. And speaking of Santa, did you know that during the Civil War, Lincoln commissioned artist Thomas Nast to create an image of Santa visiting Union troops? This historic illustration graced the January 3, 1863, edition of Harper’s Weekly.

January 3, 1863 cover of Harper's Weekly, one of the first depictions of Santa Claus

The Smithsonian notes, “In [Santa’s] hands, he holds a puppet toy with a rope around its neck, its features like those of Confederate president Jefferson Davis.” Talk about intense Santa Civil War propaganda! This was one of the first printed renditions of Santa Claus.

The green of Illinois and the green of Christmas

Let’s refocus on the joy of the season. It’s time to swap out those pumpkins for Christmas trees and sing along:

By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois,
O’er thy prairies verdant growing, Illinois, Illinois.

And if you’re wondering, “verdant” means bright green, like lush grass. It’s a nod to the natural beauty of Illinois, and yes, the green color also ties in nicely with the festive green of Christmas. So, Happy Illinois Day and Get Your Christmas Decorations Up Already Day, because we’re already one week into December!

Side-note: Why is the word “national” in National Illinois Day?

By the way, why is it called National Illinois Day? Other states in the nation do not celebrate this day. When there is a National holiday, it’s celebrated by the whole nation. But when a holiday is celebrated by just the state, what would be the equivalent word? Perhaps, State Illinois Day?

Chat GPT disagrees with me,

“National Illinois Day” is a unique term and doesn’t follow the typical naming convention of “state holiday.” This day is specifically designated to recognize and celebrate the state of Illinois. It’s part of a series of days that have been created to celebrate each state in the United States, often referred to as “National [State Name] Day.”

So, in this context, “National Illinois Day” is the correct term. It’s meant to give national recognition to the state, hence the use of “National” in the name. Saying “State Illinois Day” would be unusual and is not the standard way of referring to this celebration.

LOL. I love it. Chat GPT totally does NOT want me to say “State Illinois Day”. It’s unusual. This LLM doesn’t know me! I’m all for flying my “beige flag.” And today, it’s all about the Illinois flag.

Notes for the future

Next year maybe I’ll interpret parts of the Illinois flag and how they can be interpreted in a Christmas light. Eagle as Christmas bird? And I’ll re-write the Illinois state song as a Christmas carol.

Summarizing a blog post with emojis

Here’s a collection of emojis that relate to the themes in this post about National Illinois Day and the transition into the holiday season:


These emojis represent the festive spirit, the transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the state of Illinois, historical aspects related to Abraham Lincoln and Santa Claus, as well as the general joy and celebration of the season. I especially love how Abraham Lincoln is represented with 🎩🧔🏻‍♂️🇺🇸. This combination came from You might see me make more emoji summaries of future blog posts.

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