Christmas in July

Christmas has always been a special holiday at MSI, as our member-favorite Christmas Around the World has been a Chicago tradition since 1942, when the Museum hosted a special tribute to America’s allies during World War II. In the years that followed, our celebration has grown to incorporate more than 50 trees celebrating nations and cultures across the globe, with the accompanying Holidays of Light display offering joyous greetings to people of all faiths and beliefs.

This year, as we look to keep the bonds between family, friends, and neighbors strong and even reaching across great distances, we invite you to toss your calendar aside and embrace the spirit of enlightenment and hope, with this visual tour of Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light from across the years. Enjoy rapturous holiday designs and sneak a peek at behind-the-scenes photos that show how communities come together to celebrate peace and harmony. See for yourself that July is the perfect time for Christmas—and all of our holidays of light and love.

Schedule of events from 1945 celebrating Christmas Around the World exhibit
1945 program highlighting performances and nightly dinners.
Large crowds view live trees in the Rotunda.
1956 scene of the former Sears Homes Lounge exhibit decorated with a tree reflecting the period: 1886-1898 and 1912-1927. The 1927 tree was the only one to feature electric lights.
1962 program highlighting performances and nightly dinners.
Popular nightly dinners in the 1970s showcasing cuisines from different cultures.
To celebrate MSI's 50th anniversary in 1982, a competition was held for creative interpretations of Christmas trees. This neon sculpture, "The Golden Christmas Tree", was selected as the winner.
1940s visitors watching a military procession in the Rotunda
The exhibit started as United Nations Day as a salute to our WWII allies.
Children in the 1940s wearing traditional clothing singing.
Schedule of events from 1959 celebrating Christmas Around the World exhibit
1950 program highlighting performances and nightly dinners.
1973 parade float promoting the exhibit.
1979 poster promoting the 38th annual Christmas Around the World exhibit, including the forest of 20-foot tall trees.
Swedish dancers in front of their tree in the early 1980s.
Late 1980s poster featuring ornaments from different cultures.