…..how lovely are your branches.”
Yes, folks, it is that time of year again. Starbucks has their “holiday” cups out, stores and radio stations are playing Christmas music and the Boston Common is being decked out in lights just in time for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, which will take place this year on December 3, 2011. Many Bostonians are aware of the fact that Nova Scotia, Canada provides Boston with the Christmas tree each year, but most are unaware as to why.
Nova Scotians take the giving of the tree very seriously. They take their time when choosing one, making sure it is absolutely perfect. Now the question is why are they so particular and why in the world do they give one to Boston every year? It all goes back to December 6, 1917, and an event called the Halifax Explosion.
On that day, the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship that was fully loaded with wartime explosions, collided (accidentally) with the Norwegian SS Imo in “The Narrows” section of the Halifax Harbor. About 2,000 people were killed by debris, fire, and the collapsing of buildings around the area. It is estimated that over 9,000 people were injured and the incident is the world’s largest man-made accidental explosion.
Just hours after the explosion, Bostonians took immediate action by providing trains loaded with relief supplies, food, medicine, nurses and doctors. People of Massachusetts would eventually donate $750,000 to the relief of Halifax. The Commonwealth made a long-term commitment in the form of the Massachusetts Halifax Relief Committee and the Massachusetts Halifax Health Commission.
In 1918, just a year after the disaster, Halifax sent the city of Boston a Christmas tree to simply show their gratitude and appreciation. The tradition of sending a tree didn’t take off initially. It wasn’t until 1971 that it was revived and every year since then, Nova Scotia has supplied Boston’s official Christmas tree.
The Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Boston Common has been taking place since 1910. Mayor John Fitzgerald lit the first public Christmas tree, according to his great granddaughter Caroline Kennedy. Traditionally, the lights have been turned on by the sitting Boston mayor.
So when you walk through The Common this winter, you can be proud of the Bostonians that came before you, and be inspired to help someone out this holiday season.
By: Jonelle Flood FutureBoston Intern.