The Boston Christmas Tree

Every holiday season one of the best places to visit is the Christmas Tree in the Boston commons, but you might not know the story of where the tree comes from and its tragic past. The Boston Christmas tree has come from Nova Scotia every year since 1917. The tree is a thank you for Boston’s assistance after the 1917 Halifax explosion, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions. The explosion destroyed most of the city and caused hundreds of casualties. Now the Christmas tree is lit in the Boston commons every year. 

The Halifax explosion, December 6, 1917, at 9:04 am was caused by a collision of two ships in the city’s harbor. Boston authorities were alerted via telegraph and immediately sent out resources to help. However, a blizzard caused the train carrying supplies to delay and the resources did not arrive until December 8th. The personnel from Boston immediately began the process of handing out food and water to support the survivors.  They were able to relieve the Nova Scotia medical staff who had been working since the initial explosion.  

Thanks to the help and resources sent from Boston the people of Nova Scotia sent in the best Christmas trees they found. Now every year since, Nova Scotia has sent Boston its Christmas tree. The annual gift was started by the Lunenburg County Christmas Tree Producers Association to promote Christmas tree exports as well as acknowledge the Boston support after the explosion. The gift was taken over by the Nova Scotia Government in 1976 to continue the goodwill gesture and to promote trade and tourism.

The Nova Scotia government has several tree specialists who, every year, go out and scope out the very best tree even if it’s in someone’s backyard. For the specialist, the tree can be elusive, the demands excessive, and the job requires remembering the locations of the best specimens in the province and persuading the people who own them to give them up for a pittance. The tree-cutting ceremony has been described as “quite the local spectacle for Nova Scotians.” The tree cutting features representatives from the province, the United States Consulate in Halifax, the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia, hundreds of local school children, a town crier, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Nova Scotia conservation officers, an Antigonish bagpiper, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, and even Santa Claus.

So, if you’re ever looking for the perfect place to get some perfect holiday photos, make sure to check out the Christmas tree in the Boston commons, just don’t forget the history behind Boston’s biggest Christmas tree.