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Seven Can’t Miss Sights in Salem, MA

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Salem, the Massachusetts city infamous for the 1692 witch trials is the perfect destination for a spooky weekend excursion. Salem in October is full of festive activities to get you in the Halloween spirit and out of Boston for a day! When planning your Salem trip itinerary, be sure to make time to visit these seven spots. 


Salem Willows

While Salem might be known for its “witches” it also has a beautiful waterfront that should not be overlooked. Salem Willows is a public, seaside, park offering scenic views and the world’s best popcorn along with a popular arcade and carousel ride. While you're there, stop by nearby Pickering Wharf - another location along the Salem waterfront that has adorable shops and tasty restaurants.



The Salem Witch Museum

The Salem Witch Museum is probably the most famous museum in Salem. The Witch Museum gives visitors a life-like retelling of Salem's 17th-century history, featuring stage sets with wax figures, lighting, and narration to present an accurate depiction of the Salem Witch Trials. The current exhibit, "Witches-Evolving Perceptions", draws parallels in history between the "witches" of 1692 to the Japanese-Americans encamped during WWII and the blacklisted Communists of the 1950s. The Museum is open daily with extended hours in October. 

The House of Seven Gables

This historic home was built in 1668 and was once owned by serval prominent maritime families. The home is perhaps most well known for being famously chronicled in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name. If you're visiting Salem, check out the House of Seven Gables for a guided tour...and decided for yourself if it’s truly as haunted as the stories say.

The Witch House

Another famous Salem home, the Salem Witch House, is the only remaining structure in Salem with direct ties to the Witch Trials. The home was once inhabited by Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the Salem residents investigating the claims of witchcraft in 1692, and one of the people partly responsible for convicting 20 people of witchcraft. It is said that many of those convicted could have been interrogated by Corwin right in the homes living room. Visitors to Salem can stop by for both guided and self-guided tours.

Spooky Walking Tours

Salem has several night-time walking tours that allow you to learn the town's history in an informative yet terrifying manner. The Salem Witch Walk and Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour are two popular options. On the Witch Walk, witches take you on a tour of the Salem seaport, while on the Ghost Tour guests are taken through the haunted areas of Salem's streets. 


Harbor Sweets

It wouldn’t be Halloween time without candy! If you’re looking for something sweet and less spooky, head to Harbor Sweets to stock up on all the goodies you need for October 31st.  All the candies and chocolates inside are handmade, so you know you’ll be trying authentic New England treats. 

How Should I Get There? 

If you're planning to visit Salem from the Boston area, you can take the Commuter Rail Newburyport/Rockport Line to Salem. 

Remember to share all your weekend activities with by using #HomestayBoston or tagging @globalimmersions!

Exploring Boston Trails

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Are you interested in walking or biking along Boston's beautiful scenery? Learning about Boston's intriguing history? Whether you want to take a simple stroll or get your steps in for the day, check out some of these trails!


The Freedom Trail: Follow a red, brick trail through Boston that goes past 16 Revolutionary War landmarks. Walk past the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old North Church, famous burial grounds, where the Boston Tea Party began, Kings Chapel, the Old South Meeting Hall, Paul Revere's Statue and the Bunker Hill monument. 2.5 miles of rich history along this popular trail.


The Emerald Necklace: Walk through 7 miles of  green designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City. The trail starts at the Boston Common and ends at Franklin Park. It passes by Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum. 


Minuteman Trail: Learn about the Revolutionary War through this historic trail. Walk along where Paul Revere rode his 'Midnight Ride' in 1775 and see battle grounds such as Meadow Grounds, Tower Park and the Munroe Tavern. This 10 mile trail also has a railroad history from the mid 1800's. The trail connects Cambridge to Bedford starting at Alewife Station and ending at South Road. People use this trail to commute to work on bike as its well-known around the area.

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway: If you're downtown exploring, take a quick 2 mile walk starting at the North End Park, ending at the Chinatown Park. Along the way, check out Paul Revere's house, a carousel, gardens and public art. This trail was named after President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy's mother, Rose F. Kennedy. This trail is accessible by the MBTA through the Aquarium Station, Haymarket Station and South Station.


Southwest Corridor Park / Pierre Lallement Bike Path: Want to walk or bike through Boston? Check out this 4 mile, popular commuter trail for cyclists that runs through the city and runs along Boston's skyscrapers. The path is named after the inventor of the pedal bicycle, Pierre Lallement in 1860. Starting from Dartmouth Street off Mass Turnpike I-90, the path spans through New Washington Street in Jamaica Plain.

South Bay Harbor Trail: Nearly 4 miles, starting at Melnea Cass Blvd. adjacent from Ruggles Station and ending at Pier 4, near the Institution of Contemporary Art, this trail connects many Boston neighborhoods together. Accessible through the MBTA, this trail also includes the Harborwalk displaying Boston's waterfront.

North Bank Bridge: A gorgeous 1/2 mile walk, perfect for Instagram photo opportunities on the bridge over looking Boston. Connecting North Point Park in Cambridge to Paul Revere Park in Charlestown, the path goes underneath the Zakim bridge and above the MBTA tracks.

Want to find more trails to explore? Click here for more Boston trails and here for all Massachusetts trails. 


Your Guide to July 4th in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, June 29, 2018

Boston is an exciting city during the week of July 4th. The city is a host of many different events, from concerts to parades to historical reenactments. City-sponsored celebrations are popular with Boston residents and tend to be very successful is drawing large crowds of  participants. If you plan on spending Independence Day in Boston consider attending one of these major events.


Boston Pop's Concert and Fireworks Show

The annual performance by the Boston Pop's, lead by famous conductor Keith Lockhart, will once again take place at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade. This year's lineup features headliner Rachel Platten, a Newton native and artist of the popular 2015 track "Fight Song". The concert will also have performances by Rhiannon Giddens, of Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Indigo Girls, and an appearance by actress Rita Moreno. The free event offers seating on a first come first serve basis and is likely to be crowded- so show up early! An identical concert will be held on July 3rd, however unlike the July 4th show, this concert will not be followed by a fireworks display. Both concerts begins at 8:00 pm and the fireworks show on the 4th will start at 10:30 pm. If you can't make the show in person, you can watch it live online.

Harbor Fest

Harbor Fest is an annual event that celebrates Boston's Harbor and History. Harbor Fest hosts many events over independence day weekend. Such events include live music performances, historical reenactments, Freedom Trail Walks, and boat tours. The festival will also include a clambake and scavenger hunt. Marty Walsh will cut the ceremonial Harbor Fest cake at Faneuil Hall on June 28th, signifying the start of the festival that will last through July 4th. The Harbor Fest website provides a full schedule of events during the week, which you can find here.

Independence Day Recognition

Boston's official Independence Day recognition and Parade will take place at 9:00 am on July 4th at City Hall Plaza. The event begins with a flag raising ceremony and then continues with a parade to the Granary Burial Ground, where wreaths are laid on the graves of patriots before the parade marches on to the Old State House by Faneuil Hall. At 10:00 am the Declaration of Independence will bead read from the balcony at the Old State House by the current Captain Commanding of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, to mimic the way the document was read to the citizens of Boston in July of 1776.

Source: Masslive, BostonUSA, Boston Magazine

The Month of Ramadan

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, May 10, 2018

May 15th marks the beginning of the Islamic celebration of Ramadan. Ramadan is not a well-known holiday to those outside of the Muslim community in America, but is widely observed by those who practice Islam. Here is a little information about this up-coming celebration.

(A Ramadan celebration is held at the White House each year. This tradition was started during the Clinton Administration and has been since followed by Bush and Obama. )

Islam is the world's second largest religion, after Christianity. Over 1 billion people in the world are Muslim, or followers of Islam. In the U.S. it is estimated that there is 7 million Muslim people, and each of the 50 U.S. states is home to at least one mosque, the Muslim place of worship. Followers of Islam believe that around 610 A.D. a man named Muhammad, from the now Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, started receiving messages from God (known as Allah) through the angel Gabriel. These messages have been collected in the holy book of Islam, known at the Quran (or Koran). Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last and final prophet in a line of prophets that includes such religious figures as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus Christ. Muslims also believe that God, Allah, is the single, all knowing God and that Muslims can achieve salvation by following the commandments of God. Five key concepts form the basis of the Islamic religion. These core ideas, known as the "Five Pillars of Islam", include a declaration of faith (known as shahada), prayer (five times per day), charitable giving (known as zakat), fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca.

(Mecca, Saudi Arabia)

Ramadan refers to the ninth month of the 12-month Islamic lunar calendar. It is the month that during which Muslims believe that Muhammad received the initial messages from God that became the Quran. Because the lunar calendar is based upon the phases of the moon, Ramadan does not start and end at the same time each year. This year, Ramadan begins at sunset on Tuesday, May 15th and ends on Thursday, June 14th.

Ramadan Practices

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk each day. Fasting is seen in the Islamic religion as a cleansing process, meant to relive the body of toxins and also to show empathy for those who are less fortunate and may be hungry. The first meal of the day during Ramadan, eaten just before sunrise is known as "suhoor". Usually, healthy foods are eaten during this meal so that the person fasting has enough energy to last them throughout the day. East day's fast is broken with a meal known as "iftar". Iftars are typically larger, more elaborate feasts celebrated with the family or close friends. The foods eaten during the iftar meal vary across cultures.  


(Sweets prepared for Eid-Al Fitr)

Eid Al-Fitr

Eid Al-Fitr (or Eid ul-Fitr) is a major celebration that signifies the end of the month of Ramadan. The name of this celebration means "The Feast of Fast Breaking". Eid lasts three days following the end of Ramadan. During Eid Al-Fitr families will recite special prayers and enjoy meals with relatives and friends. Often gifts are exchanged among family members.

Source: History.com

Mother's Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, April 30, 2018


In the United States Mother's Day is traditionally celebrated on the second Sunday in May, so this year that means May 13th. Mother's Day was founded by a woman named Anna Jarvis, who held a memorial for her deceased Mother at a church in West Virginia in 1905. Anna's Mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War.  Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother and all mothers in America and so she began to advocate for Mother's Day as a recognized holiday. At first, Congress rejected the proposal to make Mother's Day an official holiday, but then several states, beginning with Jarvis' home state of West Virginia, began to adopt Mother's Day as a holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day as a national holiday to honor America's mothers. Mother's Day is also celebrated elsewhere in the world. Here are how some countries observe Mother's Day.


Thailand

Mother's Day in Thailand is celebrated on August 12th, on the day of  Queen Sirkit's birthday, a former queen of Thailand who is considered the "mother of the country".  In the days before the holiday, Thai people celebrate by displaying portraits and shrines of Queen Sirkit, as well as putting on fireworks shows and candle lighting ceremonies. In addition to comemorating the birthday of the Queen, Thai mother's are celebrated on this day as well. Children often give their mother's gifts such as white jasmine flowers, which represent maternal love. Children may also give alms to monks in honor of their mothers.


Australia

In Australia, Mother's Day is celebrated on the same day as in the U.S. The traditional flower of the Australian Mother's Day is the Chrysanthemum, which is in full bloom during the season of Autumn when Australian Mother's Day occurs. On this day, Chrysanthemums, as well as carnations, are given to mothers. Many Australians wear colored carnations if their mothers are still living and white carnations if they are deceased.


Poland

Polish Mother's Day, also known as "Dzień Matki", is celebrated on May 26th. The holiday gained popularity after WWII, and is now an official holiday of Poland. Because it is an official holiday, many businesses are closed and families have celebrations at home. On Mother's Day, schools often host special events where children give their mothers gifts such as "laurki", or papers decorated with flowers and written messages. At home, family members may gather and have a party, complete with more gift giving and cake.


India

India's Mother's Day is celebrated on the same day as in the U.S. On Mother's Day , Indian children give their Mother's cards and often cook a meal for them. A similar holiday is celebrated by followers of the Hindu religion in October. This festival, called "Durga Puja", honors the goddess Durga, or the "Divine Mother" of India. Durga Purja lasts 10 days, during which people fast, then feast, pray, sing, dance, and perform cultural dramas.

Source: Thebump.com

When the Clock Strikes 12

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 28, 2017

Whether viewed as an anthem, lifestyle, or fact, it’s 5 o'clock Somewhere. On December 31, a different hour is anticipated. The New Year is rung in all over the globe, in each time zone with fireworks and festivities.

First Night Boston, the oldest and largest event of its kind in the country, derived from a woman’s dream for a nontraditional night out. In 1975, Clara and Bill Wainwright attended a New Year's Eve party and found it predictable. They envisioned an Inclusive family-friendly celebration. The couple began organizing their project of a creative night by meeting with local artists. With partners and sponsors, they were able to plan more more than a hundred individual events across the city, including concerts, displays, and fireworks. New England weather is unpredictable, and the temperature reached a windchill of ten degrees below zero. About 25,000 people bundled up to experience First Night. It has since become a tradition and inspired similar events throughout the country and the world. 

The first major city to experience the New Year is Sydney. The largest fireworks display of the world is presented on the harbor, with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House making the show only more alluring. A ceremony presented by the Aboriginal peoples, showcases eucalyptus smoke billowing over the water, cleansing the Harbour of bad spirits. Family Fireworks go off at 9 pm for young Aussies to view, with the larger presentation following at the stroke of midnight. The parade of boats illuminated with strings of lights, glide through the harbor.

Perhaps the most thought celebration spot for New Year’s Eve is New York City. With millions gathering to watch the ball drop in Times Square and hours of notable musical guests, it is no wonder it is the most famous. The pricey alternative to partying outside is to have reservations or attend parties at the restaurants or bars overlooking the festivities. Crowds aren’t for everyone, which makes the televised broadcast, “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest” such a success. 


“Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest” now features segments from the Las Vegas party with additional guest appearances from celebrities. The Las Vegas Strip is known for entertainment, making it one of the great party destinations. On New Year’s Eve the road is shut down and transformed into a street party with live bands and pyrotechnics from various locations.

Another city known for partying, Rio de Janeiro is a top New Year’s Eve Destination. Known for its Carnival blowout, the New Year’s Eve bash maintains the same level of excitement, making it the largest New Year’s Eve party in the world. Over two million flock to the two and a half mile stretch of sand, known as Copacabana Beach. While Copacabana Beach is the most popular, smaller events will take place on other beaches and locations. Locals will traditionally wear white and will toss flowers and offerings into the ocean. Oceanfront stages host live musical and dance performances.


Needless to say, cities around the world are well-versed in celebrating the New Year. What are YOUR plans to welcome in 2018? 

Everyone here at Global Immersions hopes you have a fabulous New Year!!

Christmas: Then and Now

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 21, 2017

The winter solstice marked the short, harsh and dark winter days were coming to an end. Longer days and extended hours of sunlight are highly anticipated and brought hope to those seeking comfort in the sun. This Pagan celebration was soon absorbed by others and transitioned into a Christian holiday. The winter holiday became an anniversary celebration of the birth of Jesus. From one religion to another and constantly evolving, Christmas of today has religious implications but the commercialized aspects have far outgrown the religious ones. Narratives once revolved around Jesus, but Santa Claus has since become the integral character for Christmas stories.

Not always the popular holiday it is today, Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. Puritan beliefs countered the celebration and those participating in Christmas festivities were fined five shillings. While other settlements did not have these strict regulations and Christmas slowly gained popularity. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States in on June 26, 1870. Globalization and developing technologies have changed and spread traditions. Each family has different traditions, as does each country. Other traditions and celebrations are unique to a country or town.

Christmas trees have become a symbol of Christmas. Christmas trees were first seen in Germany and immigrants brought the concept to the United States. Thought of as a Pagan tradition, it was not widely embraced initially. The first record of a Christmas tree being publicly displayed was in the 1830s. This display in Pennsylvania was created by German immigrants who had been decorating such trees in their communities for years. Popularity of Christmas trees grew after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who was German, were photographed with their children around one.

St. Lucia (Lucy) Day is celebrated widely, but most common in Scandinavia on December 13. The name Lucy refers to “light” and the celebration initially coincide with the winter solstice. To commemorate her death, a girl will dress in a white gown with a red sash around the waist. A crown of twigs and nine lit candles adorn her head. Processions are common in towns and one girl is selected for the honor of leading it. She will dress with the sash and crown of candles, but the other participants will carry a candle


Gävlebocken, the Gävle Goat, is a holiday display in Gävle, Sweden. Comprised of straw, the goat has cost upwards of a quarter of a million dollars to create and maintain. Since the tradition was introduced in 1966, the Gävle Goat has been destroyed by vandals 35 times in the past 50 years. Increased resources have been allocated to the protection of the display.  

While everyone might be dreaming of a white Christmas, some have white sandy beaches. In the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is in the middle of summer. Australians  tend to go to the beach and have a picnic as their Christmas meal. The weather permits plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.


All in all, Christmas around the world is celebrated in various styles and fashions, but most people would agree that the most important part of Christmas is the time we spend with family!

Merry Christmas to all!

The Story of Hanukkah

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a centuries-old Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem. As legend goes, in 166 BC, the Jewish people rose against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. First led by father and priest, Mattathias Maccabee, and then by his son, Judah, the rebellion lasted for well over two years, and ended in what is considered the 'miracle' of light.

The Greek-Syrian oppressors had desecrated the holy Temple in Jerusalem by erecting a statue of Zeus and sacrificing pigs upon its altar. Their leader, Antiochus, gave the Jewish people an ultimatum: conversion or death. Though outnumbered, Judah Maccabee and his followers won two important battles, virtually ridding the city of the Greek-Syrian oppressors.

At the end of the Maccabean Revolt, Judah called upon his followers to cleanse the Temple, rebuild its original altar, and light its menorah. To everyone's dismay, there was only enough untainted oil to keep the menorah lit for a single day. The flames, however, continued to flicker for eight nights, allowing the Jewish people enough time to find a fresh supply of oil. This miracle inspired the annual eight-day festival of lights, Hanukkah, which means 'dedication' in Hebrew, and reminds Jews today to rededicate themselves to the Jewish religion, culture, and people.

Today, the celebration of Hanukkah revolves around lighting the menorah, eating foods cooked in oil (such as latkes and jam-filled donuts), playing with toy dreidels, and spending time with family. Though it is not considered a Jewish "high holiday", in which restrictions are placed on school, work, or other activities,  Hanukkah has seen an explosion of commercial attention, as it usually lands near Christmas. This year, Hanukkah began on Tuesday, December 12, and will go through Wednesday, December 20.

Happy Hanukkah to all!

Sources: History and RJ

A Boston Holiday Season

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, December 06, 2017

As many of you know, the start of December is the official kick off for the Winter holiday season, and Boston is as charming a city as they come this time of year. If you're looking for fun things to do this month, then look no further because we've compiled a list of the best activities this season.

Light shows:

Greenway Carousel: From December 1, 2017 through January 1, 2018, head over to the Greenway Carousel to take a spin against the backdrop of bright, festive light shows and favorite holiday tunes. Beginning at 4:45pm and running until close, these light shows are sure to brighten up a cold winter's evening.

Somerville Illumination Trolley Tours: Several homes in Somerville go all out with their holiday decorations, and the Somerville Arts Council created a trolley tour to shuttle interested parties from house to house to check them out. Tour is Saturday, December 16, from 4:30pm to 10:00pm. 

ZooLights, Stoneham: Every year, the Stoneham Stone Zoo puts on a dazzling holiday light show from 5:00pm to 9:00pm each evening through December 31. This spectacular display is in addition to wonderful holiday-themed decorations added to many animal enclosures.

The Lynn Fells Parkway, Saugus: For over 60 years, families pile into their cars for a slow drive down the Lynn Fells Parkway on the North Shore. Most residents on this mile-long stretch of road gave up counting the number of bulbs on their property, though their estimates are in the thousands.

Blink! Faneuil Hall: Holiday shoppers around the Faneuil Hall area have been able to enjoy an audiovisual show called Blink!, where 350,000 LED lights dance to the music of the Holiday Pops. The spectacle lasts about 7 minutes, but plays throughout the night from 4:30pm to 9:30pm until January 1.

La Salette Shrine: For over 60 years, La Salette Shrine in Attleboro has amazed visitors with displays of over 300,000 lights spread across 10 acres. There is also an international crèche museum with more than 1,000 crèches. Open daily from 5:00pm to 9:00pm though January 1.

Your OWN! If you can, take your visitor along for a drive around the neighborhood to see all of the holiday decorations near your home! And for a more comprehensive list of the best light shows around Boston, follow this link!

More holiday activities:


December can be a brutally cold month, and you won't always want to enjoy the holiday cheer outdoors. Instead, perhaps purchasing tickets to Boston Ballet: The Nutcracker, or the Holiday Pops show, or to Black Nativity, or to the Disney on Ice: Dream Big tour will fill you with the holiday spirit while keeping your hands and toes warm. Either way, any of these shows will prove to be quite fun. The Nutcracker and the Holiday Pops show run through December 31, Black Nativity will run through December 17, and the Disney on Ice tour will be here until January 1!

Another fun way to get into the holiday spirit is on the Northern Lights Boston Harbor cruise. There are three different holiday cruises this year: the Irish Christmas Carols Cruise, the Holiday Jazz Cruise, and the Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise, all featuring live music, holiday decor, and delicious beverages. Take your pick of these cheerful holiday cruises!


If you're downtown completing your holiday shopping, you should also check out the different ice skating opportunities! Frog Pond is an age-old favorite for many Bostonians. Bring your own or rent some skates and twirl on the rink surrounded by holiday lights covering Boston Common's trees. The city's newest skating venue is right in City Hall Plaza for Boston's Winter Wonderland. Open 7 days a week, Boston Winter offers a skating opportunity as well as an outdoor holiday shopping market!

Love to ski or snowboard? Nashoba Valley Ski Area is only 45 minutes away from Boston and has a lovely relaxed environment. The Blue Hills in Canton, MA is a family-oriented, good-for-learners mountain, and Pats Peak is another mountain in Southern New Hampshire that has lots of ski/snowboard instructors on site and homemade food in the cafeteria. If you'd like a longer list of nearby skiing and snowboarding opportunities, follow this link!

If you're interested in Boston's history, then come out to the 244th Boston Tea Party Reenactment. On December 16, 6:30pm, meet at the Old South Meeting House near State Street to join more than 100 volunteer reenactors, including Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock. The procession will gather at the Old South Meeting House for a debate and proceed with fifes and drums in tow to Griffin's Wharf to dump a load of tea in the Boston Harbor. Rain or shine, it should be a sight to see!


Last and certainly not least, welcome in the New Year at First Night 2018! Join the million or so people who come to celebrate the New Year in Boston at this huge city-wide event. There will be entertainers, food, performances, a parade, fireworks, and ice sculptures. Be sure to bundle up and head into the city on December 31 for some great eats and even better experiences!

The Story Behind Boston's Christmas Tree

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Last week the city of Boston was notified by our northern friends in Nova Scotia, Canada that the annual Christmas tree gift was chosen! Every year the city of Boston is rewarded a giant tree as a thank you for services provided a century ago.

Exactly 100 years ago, on December 6th, 1917, the Halifax Explosion killed 2,000 people and injured upwards of 9,000 in the Nova Scotia province. A French cargo ship, the Mont Blanc, was preparing to head overseas to fight in World War I when it found itself in some trouble. The Mont Blanc collided with a Norwegian ship in the Halifax harbor and caught fire.

The ship was laden with high-powered explosives that were meant for battle in the war. Shortly after the fire began on the Mont Blanc, however, so too did her munitions. Many people believe this was the largest man-made explosion in the world prior to the development of atomic bombs.

Over 1,000 people were instantly killed, while entire neighborhoods in the Richmond district were demolished. When word reached the Massachusetts governor, he immediately dispatched a relief train filled with doctors, Red Cross nurses, and medical supplies. Once in Halifax, the aid workers handed out food and water, set up hospitals, and built shelters to treat the thousands of injured bodies and spirits.

During the weeks leading up to Christmas, the first aid responders took it upon themselves to become Santa's elves by setting up trees and decorating best they could amidst the ruin. They tried to keep Halifax's spirit up during such a devastating time. The following year, Nova Scotia sent Bostonians a Christmas tree in thanks and remembrance for their aid after the explosion.

The gift was revived again in 1971 when the Lunenburg County began an annual donation of a large Christmas tree to Boston in remembrance of the Halifax Explosion. This act was later taken over by the Nova Scotian Government to continue spreading the goodwill and holiday cheer.

This year the tree lighting ceremony will be held on November 30 from 5:00 - 6:00pm on Boston Common. Be sure to head downtown in your layers to see the spectacular tree in all its glory.


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