Monday, December 23, 2019

Our First (and most recent) Christmas Tree

We received an early Christmas gift today at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room. An envelope arrived from Boothbay Harbor Maine with the donation of a fantastic photo album from around 1910. It is full of vacation type photos showing the Conway ledges, Lucy Farm, Saco River and so on. Also included were a couple very rare photos of an early local Christmas Tree.

Recently the Conway Historical Society restarted a new tradition in the Old Firehouse on Main Street with a new Christmas Tree decorated in an older more traditional manner.

Wooden blocks spell out Merry Christmas.

An older style Santa and traditional toys are displayed - and ornaments that tell a special story full of meaning were explained and added to the tree to be recorded and hung year after year - a blending of the old and new.

As part of the program, I related the story of the first Christmas Tree in the Mount Washington Valley "neighborhood" as originally told by Lady Blanche Murphy from the late 1800's. The tale is written in a biography of her in the History Room.

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

Monday, December 9, 2019

OK, Now Tis the Season!

Get ready to celebrate! I heard today is "Green Monday" another big day for holiday shopping. That was news to me. So I thought it appropriate to post this traditional holiday image.

Ah! The traditional red and green of Christmas. .. at least in the subtropics where I was born and raised.

Our snow came out of a spray can.

Our fireplace was made out of cardboard

In the South, we claimed Christmas for our own, after all y'all banned it for many years.

Public notice from Boston 1659

While controversial, Florida's history of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas has been documented back to the 16th century, well before the Pilgrims landed or St. Nick visited New York.

Whatever the history, the fact is that New England started appropriating Thanksgiving and Christmas in the early nineteenth century. As we now claim New England as our home, we have learned enough about local winter traditions to offer an outreach program for school and community groups. Through this program you can learn about local ice harvesting, snow rollers, NH snowmobiles, sled dogs, and polar explorers.

One fact documented in the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room collection was the practice of "snowing" the covered bridges.

They actually shoveled snow onto the wooden bridges so that horse drawn sleighs could cross.

The story of the area's first Christmas tree was told by Lady Blanche Murphy. You can actually read about it here.

So grab a seasonally appropriate book, sit back, relax and chill like Santa on the sand!

For more details on this or any other historical subject in the White Mountains, contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.