Christmas Traditions in Boston

Forest Hills CemeteryThe Forest Hills Cemetery and the Forest Hills Educational Trust PRESENT:

A FORSYTH LECTURE EVENT — with Author and Historian Anthony Sammarco

Sunday, December 10th at 2PM

In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony banned by law the celebration of Christmas as it was deemed to be a time of seasonal excess with no Biblical authority. Though this law was repealed in 1681, it would not be until 1856 that Christmas Day became a state holiday in Massachusetts.

Anthony Sammarco outlines the celebration (or lack thereof) of Christmas in the first two centuries after the city was settled in 1630. By the mid-19th century a German immigrant named Charles Follen introduced the Christmas tree to Boston, and shortly thereafter Louis Prang (who is interred at Forest Hills) introduced his colorful Christmas cards, the first in Boston. During the next century, Boston would see caroling and hand bell ringing on Beacon Hill, a Nativity scene and other traditional New England displays on Boston Common and in the many department stores. What could have been better after a day visiting with Santa (C. Kelton Upham was Santa at Filene’s and is buried at Forest Hills) and seeing the lights on Boston Common than to enjoy a hot fudge sundae at Bailey’s?

Sammarco’s book, Christmas Traditions in Boston, revisits the memories of the past and brings together the shared traditions of how Bostonians have celebrated the holiday season.

Admission:  $10 for advance tickets; $12 day of the lecture




Anthony Sammarco is the author of more than 60 books and lectures widely on the history and development of Boston, his native city. Titles include Lost Boston, and many books in the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing such as Forest Hills Cemetery and Boston’s Back Bay in the Victorian Era.