Nova Scotia’s Boston Christmas Tree Tradition

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Today’s lesson in not everything in what it seems.

Yesterday afternoon, I was perusing the We Love Beantown Twitter timeline when I came across a post linking to Boston’s Facebook page, noting the departure of the Common’s Christmas tree from its previous home in Nova Scotia.

Is this not America, I thought? I had to share my grievance:

We're getting a Canadian tree for the Common? Nooooooooooooo.
Dave Levy

It wasn’t long before a friend pointed out that I should check my derision at the door – after all, the tree is part of a nearly half-century long tradition of gratitude from the Nova Scotians.

On December 6, 1917, a Norwegian supply ship and a French freighter collided in Halifax Harbor, leading to a massive explosion that tooks thousands of lives and homes while causing nearly $35,000,000 in damage. As the story goes, alongside the many volunteers and people who stepped up in clean-up, recovery and relief, the city of Boston offered its support and provided medical personnel and supplies to the devastated community.

A year later, in 1918, the Nova Scotians sent a Christmas tree to the city as a token of thanks for the support the previous December. In 1971, the tradition was rekindled, and for the last 40 years, the Tree for Boston has been an annual gift. There was a large ceremony held yesterday at which the tree was cut down, and it is now on a flat bed truck making its way down from the Great White North.

The tree will arrive later today at its normal site in the Common, and will be placed and decorated for the annual tree lighting later this month. Details on the November 29th tree lighting are here, and, you know what, thank you Nova Scotia for the generous gift and your years of gratitude.