National Illinois Day

Young woman exploring an Illinois cornfield, wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball cap, Midwest fashion, scenic rural landscape..
National illinois day illustration

Ah, National Illinois Day! It's time to celebrate the Land of Lincoln and all things Illinois-related. So grab yourself a slice of deep-dish pizza and settle in for a fun-filled exploration of the internet history of this special day.

When is Illinois Day?

It's national illinois day on the 7th December.

The Origins of National Illinois Day

National Illinois Day is a relatively new addition to the calendar of national days. It started gaining traction online around December 7, 2017, when a whopping 159 mentions were detected. It quickly became evident that people from all corners of the internet were embracing the idea of dedicating a day to the great state of Illinois.

Now, you might be wondering, why choose Illinois as the star of its own national day? Well, Illinois has a lot going for it. From its vibrant cities like Chicago and Springfield to its breathtaking natural wonders like Starved Rock State Park, this Midwestern gem offers a little something for everyone.

Whether you're an Illinois native or just appreciate the state's unique charm, National Illinois Day is the perfect time to bask in all things Illinois.

How to Celebrate National Illinois Day

When it comes to celebrating National Illinois Day, the possibilities are as vast as Lake Michigan. Here are a few ideas to get your creative Illinois-loving juices flowing:

  • Host an Illinois-themed dinner party and serve up some classic Chicago-style hot dogs or iconic Italian beef sandwiches.
  • Take a virtual tour of famous Illinois landmarks like the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) or Lincoln's home in Springfield.
  • Explore Illinois history by visiting museums and cultural sites, such as the Art Institute of Chicago or the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
  • Celebrate Illinois sports by cheering on the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Bears, or any of the other fantastic professional and college teams.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, just make sure to do it with a big smile and plenty of Illinois pride!

History behind the term 'Illinois'


The French Explorers

In 1673, French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette were the first Europeans to explore the area now known as Illinois. They named the region 'Illinois' after the Illiniwek people, a confederation of several Native American tribes who inhabited the area.


Exploration by French explorers

In 1673, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the Mississippi River and encountered several indigenous tribes along its banks. One of these tribes was the Illiniwek, a confederation of Native American tribes who inhabited the area that would later become the state of Illinois. The name 'Illinois' is derived from the Illiniwek tribe, who were known for their farming and trading skills.


Exploration by Europeans

French explorer Louis Jolliet and Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette were the first Europeans to explore the region now known as Illinois in 1679. They navigated the Mississippi River and documented their encounters with Native American tribes.


Exploration by French explorers

In 1673, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to explore the area now known as Illinois. They encountered Native American tribes, including the Illiniwek, who inhabited the region.


French Colonial Presence

The French established a colonial presence in the Illinois territory in 1718 when Fort de Chartres was constructed near present-day Prairie du Rocher. This fort served as a strategic outpost for fur trading and cultivating relationships with Native American tribes.


Territory of Illinois

The United States organized the Territory of Illinois in 1809, which encompassed a large portion of the present-day state. The term 'Illinois' became officially recognized as the name of the region.


Establishment of Fort de Chartres

In 1718, the French established a fort called Fort de Chartres in the Illinois Country, a region where French explorers and fur traders interacted with the Illiniwek tribe. The fort played a significant role as a trading post and military outpost during the French colonization of the Americas. The presence of the fort further solidified the association between the region and the name 'Illinois'.


French fort established

In 1718, the French established a fort called Fort de Chartres in present-day Illinois. The fort served as an important trading post and military outpost in the Illinois Country region.


Statehood and adoption of the name

The year 1818 marks an important milestone in the history of Illinois. On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state to join the United States of America, gaining statehood. At this time, the name 'Illinois' was officially adopted as the state's name, paying homage to the Illiniwek tribe and recognizing their historical significance in the region. Since then, 'Illinois' has been used to refer to the state and its residents.


British control and renaming

After the French and Indian War, the British gained control of the Illinois region. They renamed it to Illinois County and later Illinois Territory.


American Revolutionary War

During the American Revolutionary War, George Rogers Clark led a successful campaign in 1778 to capture British-controlled forts in the Illinois territory. This victory secured American control over the region.


Admission as a State

On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state to join the United States. The name 'Illinois' continued to be used and became associated with the new state's identity.


Illinois Central Railroad

In 1848, the Illinois Central Railroad was chartered, becoming one of the first major rail lines in the state. The railroad played a significant role in the state's development and helped solidify the prominence of the term 'Illinois' in transportation and commerce.


Inclusion in the Northwest Territory

Illinois became part of the Northwest Territory under the provisions of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which ended the American Revolutionary War. The Northwest Territory encompassed a large area including what is now several states in the Midwest.


Northwest Ordinance

In 1787, the United States Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, which formally organized the Illinois Territory as part of the newly acquired Northwest Territory. This marked the beginning of Illinois' association with the United States.


Illinois Territory Established

In 1809, the Illinois Territory was established, marking the official recognition of the region as a separate political entity. It was divided from the Indiana Territory and eventually led to statehood in 1818.


Illinois License Plates

In 1929, Illinois became one of the first states to require license plates on automobiles. The license plates prominently featured the state name 'Illinois,' contributing to the popularization and visual recognition of the term.


Illinois becomes a territory

In 1809, the Illinois Territory was officially organized, with its capital at Kaskaskia. This marked a significant step towards statehood for Illinois.



On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state to join the United States. It was the first state to be admitted to the Union west of the Mississippi River. The name 'Illinois' is derived from the Illiniwek, the Native American tribe that once inhabited the region.



On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state of the United States. Its name, 'Illinois,' is derived from the Algonquian language and is believed to mean 'tribe of superior men' or 'best people.'


Illinois State Song

In 1967, the General Assembly of Illinois designated 'Illinois' as the official state song. The song, written by C.H. Chamberlain and Archibald Johnston, celebrates the state's natural beauty and history, further embedding the term 'Illinois' in cultural and patriotic contexts.

Did you know?

Did you know that Illinois is known as the "Land of Lincoln" because it is the birthplace of America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln? In fact, the state's official slogan is "Land of Lincoln." So next time you're in Illinois, keep an eye out for all things Lincoln-related!


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First identified

7th December 2017

Most mentioned on

7th December 2017

Total mentions


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