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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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