Twelve Days of Michigan: An Infographic

The holidays are a time for celebration, food, festivities and traditions. Michigan has unique connections to many of these.

During the 12 Days of Michigan, we will celebrate all that our state has to offer with a Michigan holiday fact each day.

Day 1
Michigan grows more than 300 farm commodities including a holiday meal favorite – cranberries!  Our nearly 300 acres produce more than 3 million pounds of cranberries a year.

Day 2
Do you enjoy a Honeybaked Ham for holiday dinners? Did you know that the recipe, crunchy sweet glaze and unique machine that slices the ham were all invented in Michigan? In 1957, Harry J. Hoenselaar opened the first HoneyBaked Ham Company in Detroit and it has since grown to be more than 400 stores nationwide.

Day 3
December 4 marks the third annual Menorah In the D on the last night of Chanukah. The 24-foot menorah was designed and built by local artists and brothers Erik and Israel Nordin and stands proudly in Campus Martius/Cadillac Square.

Day 4
Looking for a one-of-a-kind festive event? Experience scenes of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with Downtown Holly’s 40th Annual Dickens Festival, visit the largest Christmas store at Frankenmuth’s Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland  or view one of the 1.5 million twinkling lights at Rochester’s Big Bright Light Show. For more events, visit


Day 5
Picking out a fresh, fragrant Christmas tree is often a holiday tradition.  Michigan ranks third in the nation in the number of Christmas trees harvested and produces a wider variety of trees than almost any other state, supplying approximately three million fresh Christmas trees nationally each year.  The 2013 Michigan state Christmas tree is a 71-foot blue spruce that traveled 460 miles from Iron River and now stands in the Capitol.

Day 6
If every family in the U.S. shifted $10 a month to locally-owned, independent businesses instead of national chains, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to local economies.  With nearly 98% of all businesses in Michigan being small businesses, it’s important to support local retailers this holiday season including popular pop up shops that are making their way from downtown Detroit to Grand Rapids.

Day 7
Kwanzaa is celebrated each year between December 26 and January 1. In Detroit, many families gather to reflect and honor its founding principles. The Charles H. Wright Museum will pay tribute to this holiday’s rich cultural heritage with a candle lighting each night followed by evening festivities.

Day 8
Michigan winter recreation offers travelers a variety of things to do and brings in about $2.5 billion to the state’s economy. Why not take a holiday trip?  In Michigan, you are never more than two hours away from a ski area and with more than 6,500 miles of interconnected snowmobile trails in the state, dashing through the snow is a breeze.  Experience Mount Bohemia, which was one of four destinations competing for Powder Magazine’s 2014 Ski Town Throwdown or make a stop in Christmas, Michigan – a town in the Upper Peninsula that got its name from a roadside factory built there in 1938 to make holiday gifts and is now a popular destination for snowmobilers.

Day 9
December 12 is National Poinsettia Day and many of the holiday plants are grown here in Michigan.  The state is seventh in the U.S. for poinsettia production and produced 2.3 million plants last holiday season.

Day 10
The Polar Express has been a holiday classic for more than 25 years, but did you know that author Chris Van Allsburg, a Grand Rapids native, used a Michigan train for inspiration?  When the movie was made in 2004, Michigan’s Pere Marquette 1225 locomotive was used for the prototype and technicians used sounds of the whistle and the clatter of the wheels for the animated film.

Day 11
Indeed, a northern Michigan company supplied the wool that was used to make sweaters for Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

Day 12
Chestnuts are famous for roasting on an open fire, but Michigan is known for growing the sweet, edible nut with the largest number of chestnut growers and the most acreage of any state.  Chestnuts can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from soups, stews and stuffing to fancy desserts.

Do you know any Michigan holiday fun facts? Use #12DaysofMichigan and be sure to follow us on Twitter. 

Make it a Real Michigan Christmas!

Still looking for that perfect, Michigan-grown tree for the holidays? Guest blogger Marsha Gray of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association shares some tips on finding the right tree for your family!

This is the year; the year to make forever holiday memories with your family!  There will never be a season with more days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so there is plenty of time to plan a family outing to a local Christmas tree lot or farm to pick out that perfect, Michigan-grown tree.

Because Michigan is the third largest producer of Christmas trees in the US and because we grow more varieties than any other state, Michigan consumers have an abundance of choices when it comes to selecting a tree.  Will it be a Fraser fir, a spruce or maybe a traditional Michigan scotch pine?  The wide variety of choices insures that you will find just what you are looking for.  And, with so many knowledgeable growers here, they can guide you to a tree that meets your needs.

At Michigan’s “Choose & Cut” farms, you can spend as much time as you like, walking among the trees; taking in the fresh air and evergreen fragrance.  Once your family finds the perfect tree, there is the perfect chance to get a great family photo with the tree. (And maybe a funny photo of the lucky one who gets to saw it down!)  After the work is done, many of the farms offer a warm up with hot chocolate by a wood burning stove or bon fire.  Wagon rides, animals and even visits from Santa are common at many of the farms.

Whether you are cutting down your own tree or picking a beautiful Michigan-grown tree at a retail lot, consumers are urged to follow a few simple rules to keep their Christmas tree fresh and beautiful for the whole season:

  • Give your tree a fresh cut.  If you are cutting down your own tree, you are all set.  If you buy a pre-cut tree, the lot operator will typically give your tree a fresh cut.  This is the most critical step, as it opens up the base of the tree so that it can take up water.
  • Get your tree into water within a few hours.  If you are not displaying the tree immediately, place it in a bucket of water in the garage or another protected area.
  • Check the water level daily – twice each day on the first few days.  Never let the water level drop below the base of the tree trunk.  No additives needed – just plain water.
  • Decorate your tree with UL approved lights and display away from heat sources, fireplaces and warm, southern facing windows.

Enjoy your fresh, Michigan-grown tree and the wonderful holiday memories that you will make!

Marsha Gray has served as the Executive Director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association for the past 10 years. She has worked in the field of trade association management in Michigan for the past 25 years. This holiday season she is busy with the “Make it a Real Michigan Christmas” campaign, encouraging Michigan residents to celebrate the holiday with fresh, Michigan-grown poinsettias and Christmas trees.

Manistee’s 24th Annual Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend

Holiday spirit is in the air across Michigan, with many festive events on the horizon – including the Victorian Sleigh Bell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend in Manistee. Today, the Manistee County Convention & Visitors Bureau fills us in on this family-friendly event, which is coming up next weekend.

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire, I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas, Yuletide Carols, One-Horse Open Sleigh, Jingle Bells, Pipers Piping . . .

The images from our favorite Christmas holiday lyrics will be joyfully brought to life at the 24th Annual Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend, December 6 to 9 in the City of Manistee in northwest Lower Michigan.  There are dozens of events, some beginning the previous weekend, some are daily and some are ongoing.  Here’s a sample of what you can expect during that Happy Holidays week.

The highlight of the festival is the Victorian Sleighbell Parade at 5:30 p.m., Saturday December 8. Authentic, true-to-period with Victorian costumes, horse-drawn floats, turn-of-the-century characters and two community Christmas trees, pulled by horse teams down River Street.  Follow the Community Christmas Tree to the end of the parade route for the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Carol Sing-a-Long. 

The parade follows a days-long schedule of events that begin Friday Nov. 30 with the opening of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” at the Ramsdell Theatre.  Other events include visits with Santa; carriage rides; the Historic River Street Merchant Open House with holiday food and drinks; a Storefront Gingerbread House Competition; Jingle Bell Jog 5k run/walk; Downtown Soup Cook Off; Sleighbell Prince and Princess Pageant; Festival of Trees; Victorian Dessert Concert by the Manistee Choral Society and a special Christmas During Wartime exhibit at the Manistee County Historical Museum.

Don’t miss the “Sled Dog Express” which more than makes up for the absence of Dasher and Dancer and Donner and Blitzen; Cookie Fun; craft show and bazaar; Michigan Audubon Chickadee Christmas at Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary; Sleighbell Chocolate Shop; guided tours of Manistee’s architectural beauties; Manistee Community Band Christmas Concert; Kiwanis Kops; Muskegon Regional Police Pipes & Drums; Annual Jingle Mingle at the Ramsdell Inn; Victorian church services; “Visions of Sugar Plums” art exhibit from Manistee County’s K-12 students and the Guardian Angels Bell Tower Concert. 

And that’s not all! While you may not associate Opera with Christmastime, a generous donor has provided the where-with-all for the Ramsdell Theatre to simulcast live in HD Metropolitan Opera Theatre productions with shows Dec. 1, 8 and 15.  There are also special events in our charming small towns around the county, like Bear Lake’s Sparkle in the Park, which creates a Holiday Light Show at Waterfront Park.  So you can make your list and check it twice, information and the schedule for all of these events can easily be found at

While our architecture and history bring to mind the olden days of this Victorian Port City on the shores of the Great Lake Michigan, there’s nothing formal or stodgy about the fun and festivities ahead or the warmth and hospitality from our citizens and shopkeepers.  Come join us.  We do small town festivals in a big way.  And dress warmly.  Most likely, Jack Frost will be nipping at our noses.

Will you be heading to Manistee for their Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend celebration? Share with us below! For more holiday-related events in your community, visit