Google+

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas in Different Lands -- New England



This post is part of the Christmas in Different Lands series from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Be sure to visit the main page and Pinterest board!

This year instead of investigating what Christmas is like in another country, I decided to share Christmas in our neck of the woods. Of course then I had to wonder "What defines Christmas time in New England?" 
 
Map of New England Source

In many ways I often feel like Christmas time is a step back in time in parts of New England. Many houses (and almost all the churches) are still decorated with white lights on the tree, candles in the windows and a wreath on the door. I tried to get a picture of our church at night, but the candle light seems to blur.



Our Christmas celebration begins after Thanksgiving. Since we have a fake tree, we put it up the day after Thanksgiving. Growing up we always had a real tree and would go cut it down mid-December. I miss the smell of the real trees, but Steve feels fake ones are safer. Since he is an electrical engineer, I don't argue. I just wish we could give Hazel the thrill of picking a real tree out some time and helping to cut it down (though I honestly do not know too many places around to actually cut trees down anymore). Most years we use our white lights on the tree.


This year I let Hazel choose and she wanted color lights. Of course our color lights did not work, so we had to go buy more.


Our Tree This Year
Our ornaments are a combination of store bought ornaments and homemade. Almost everyone of them is a memory of something for at least one of us. We also have many that are made from shells, lobster claws and other items found at a beach. New England has many fishing towns and the items from the sea are a reminder as well as available materials.


All the towns now also have a tree light celebration. It is usually held the first weekend in December. Some are more extravagant than others.
Christmas Tree on the Lexington Common, Lexington MA
Christmas Tree on Lexington Common, Lexington, MA By John Phelan
(Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As always I looked for books that share the spirit of Christmas in New England. So many of them shared the traditional things about Christmas here. The white lights and candles in the windows, stringing popcorn and cranberries, the shell ornaments, etc.


Hazel wanted to try stringing popcorn and cranberries this year, so we did. We made a bowl of air popped popcorn, had a bag of fresh cranberries and then used a needle and some strong thread or string and strung them. Our plan is to hang them on the bushes or trees outside for the animals to eat them. For now they are on our tree (you can see them above). Hazel was home sick so I didn't want to drag her outside to put them out there.


Other traditions include ice skating. In Boston the Frog Pond at Boston Commons is converted to an ice skating rink. Often it can be cold enough to skate on small ponds as well as many outdoor rinks.


Boston Common Frog Pond - IMG 8279
Skating at Frog Pond, Boston Commons, Boston, MA

There are also the traditions of visiting famous houses like the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT and the mansions of Newport, RI. I grew up in Connecticut and always remember Christmas time as one of my family favorites times to visit the Mark Twain House. It would be decorated in the Victorian style. 
Christmas at the Marble House, Newport, RI (Source)

Then of course there is the fact that we often have at least a bit of snow on the ground for Christmas. Though at this point we have been getting mostly rain, there is talk for some snow before Christmas. We shall see. And of course with the snow comes another Christmas favorite, skiing.  
Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker (Source)
There are also the traditional cultural events for Christmas. Many people see The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol every year. Both are performed in the cities but also on smaller stages. Then there are the symphonies including the famous Boston Pops. 
 
Hazel at Stone Zoo Lights 2013


So Christmas in New England is a traditional celebration, however there is also the new twist. Of course there are the light displays that are over the top in some neighborhoods and some public locations, but what makes Christmas in New England special are the traditions.

Of course once the Christmas celebrations are over it is time to think about New Year's Eve. First Night, a New Year's Eve celebration in cities across the United States started in Boston in 1975. (Source

First night ice sculpture
First Night Boston Ice Sculpture 2010 By kriswho from Franklin, MA, United States of America (First Night Boston) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Please check out some of the other amazing posts in Christmas in Different Lands. For some more of my Multicultural Christmas posts check out: