The Spirit of Christmas Past: Four Centuries of Christmas in New England

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For many, the celebration of Christmas today is the most important holiday of the year. But many of the customs that we take for granted as part of the current holiday festivities and religious celebrations are actually a product of more recent history. This illustrated lecture traces the development of the celebration of Christmas, from when it was outlawed in seventeenth-century New England through the beginning of the twentieth century, when all the trappings of a traditional Christmas were in place. Kenneth C. Turino, manager of community engagement and exhibitions at Historic New England, looks at how Christmas was transformed from a rowdy celebration to a family-centered event. Learn how Christmas trees became popular, halls were decked, and Santa Claus came to town.