Dec 1, 2023 - Things to Do

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas puts her flair on the holiday season

Lots of Christmas trees

Monica can't believe all the lovingly decorated trees inside the Cook County Treasurer's Office. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

No downtown holiday visit is complete without stops at the (former) Marshall Field's windows, the Millennium Park tree, Christkindlmarket and … the Cook County Treasurer's Office.

Why it matters: For 20 years now, Treasurer Maria Pappas has presented one of the city's most elaborate international holiday displays right in her office.

Driving the news: Called "Christmas Trees from Around the World," it features 87 individually decorated trees reflecting cultures spanning the globe.

  • Pappas is also throwing a holiday party tonight at her office, where local diplomats and the public are invited to enjoy the elaborate tree display, music and snacks.

What she's saying: The tradition started after Pappas learned that the people who came to pay taxes in her office "speak 120 different languages," she tells Axios.

  • "So I immediately started to cater to them, and that's where I got this Christmas tree idea."

Of note: The display goes beyond Christmas decorations to include a Kwanzaa kinara, a Hindu prayer thali and a menorah.

  • Pappas invites "people working or shopping downtown" to "see the beautiful decorations and learn how different cultures celebrate the holidays."
Christmas trees
One row of international holiday trees in the Cook County Treasurer's Office. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

The intrigue: The exhibit inevitably attracts comparisons to the Museum of Science and Industry's "Christmas Around the World," which the treasurer describes as "a Nabisco chocolate chip cookie, and Pappas' is a homemade chocolate chip cookie."

  • "I think you'll see when you come in."

Bonus: Sources tell Axios that one of the hottest gifts of the season — official Maria Pappas 2024 calendars — may be given out as party favors at tonight's event.

If you go: The Cook County Treasurer's Office is on the first floor of the County Building, across the street from the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza.

  • The display runs through Jan. 2 — 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday, except for tonight's party, which starts at 5pm.
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