Plymouth, MA

How You Can Watch Plymouth's Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

Dianna Carney

(PLYMOUTH, MA) For those living in Plymouth, the holiday season is filled with lights, decorations, and trees adorned with ornaments. But, if you were a Plymouth resident in 1659, you'd be seen as a real rebel for celebrating Christmas in such an "offensive way". Christmas trees were seen as so despicable, that at one point you may have been cited or even arrested for honoring the festive holiday in such a cheerful way!

Why Were Christmas Decorations Once Illegal in Massachusetts?

To Plymouth's residents 363 years ago, any kind of Christmas decoration was seen as extremely offensive, not festive at all. This is because to "the earliest American Puritan communities, Christmas was sacred." The Plymouth Colony's governor "tried to halt the use of evergreens and decorations. He considered them a “pagan mockery” of the holiday observance. The outspoken Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of singing carols and the use of decorated trees. He feared they might distract Christians from “that sacred event.”

In 1659, "the General Court of Massachusetts declared that any form of celebration on Christmas, other than a church service, was a penal offense. People could be cited for hanging decorations of any kind."

When Did Massachusetts Finally Have Its First Christmas Tree?

By the first half of the 19th century, "it was still unusual to find a Christmas tree in any American town square or home. This began to change with the influx of German immigrants who brought their own traditions to the new country."

The first record of a Christmas tree being displayed "was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier." The first Christmas tree on record in Massachusetts was in 1832 when a Harvard professor named Charles Follen introduced "the Christmas tree at a party at his Cambridge home."

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You're invited to the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Historic Plymouth!Photo by(Photo by Brigitte Tohm)

How You Can Watch Plymouth's Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

If you're looking to celebrate Christmas like a 17th-century radical, then you're invited to join the 2022 Christmas Tree Lighting in Historic Plymouth! This year, the annual event hosted by the Plymouth Kiwanis is being held on Plymouth's Town Hall Lawn.

This annual community festival has family-friendly activities for every member of your clan! For those looking to meet the jolly big man in red, festivities will begin at 5 PM when Santa Claus himself will arrive! The athletes in your house will be happy to hear that they haven't been left out of the holiday happenings, as at 6 PM, the 11th Annual Winter Lights 5K will begin.

The festivities lead up to the grand finale event, the Christmas Tree Lighting, which will take place at 6:15 PM. The 5K and community social will continue until the event ends at 8 PM!

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Historic Plymouth Event Details

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