The average American city jump-starts the holiday season with the usual kind of merrymaking activities: tree-lighting festivals, the opening of ice skating rinks, and holiday concerts beckoning celebrants to get in the spirit.

But then there are cities and towns where the very name of the place conjures visions of sugar plum fairies, elves and reindeer 365 days a year. From Christmas Cove, Maine, to Saint Nicholas, Pa., and, of course, North Pole, Alaska, it’s hard not to adopt the yuletide glow.

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