Greetings, and merry and happy wishes to you all! This edition of the weekly update is coming to you a little early in case I decide to sleep in a bit on Saturday.
Last week we saw some special Christmas gifts that made two little girls very happy. Celebrations and traditions are a large part of our holidays too. I am looking forward to a Christmas Eve service tonight where I attend church. It will be different this year, simplified, but not lacking in meaning. There will be no family gathering this year as that has fallen victim to the Covid crisis. I remember for many years going to family gatherings at my grandparent's house on Sheridan Street (I was a month old at my first visit!). Everyone brought something, Grandma Johnson always had Swedish meatballs roasting in the oven, and Grandpa Johnson, who was the head baker for Fernandes Supermarkets, supplied wonderful (and very well filled) Danish pastry fruit rings! We met at that small house on Christmas eve for years - the family got larger, but the house did not!
Below is an updated article that I wrote for the Easton Bulletin back in the 1990's. It takes a look at Christmas celebrations in Easton back in 1883, and I hope you will enjoy reading it.
Wishing you all blessings of the season,
Christmas of 1883 was widely celebrated in Easton. News of these celebrations were recorded in the Easton Journal newspaper. The paper reports on several gatherings that were held, and churches played a leading role in celebrations.
The Methodists celebrated the holiday with a cantata and a tree loaded with gifts for their Sunday school children. The festival took place on Christmas night in the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall. The stage was trimmed with pine boughs and evergreens. The cantata “Under the Palms” was performed under the direction of Mr. J. E. Shepardson. At 7:15 the curtain rose and some fifty children broke into radiant smiles. The singing lasted an hour. After the cantata ended, the children attacked the tree and became the happy recipients of gifts and sweets that they thoroughly enjoyed. By ten o’clock, the festival had ended and the children returned to their homes.
At Dear Old Harmony Hall in Furnace Village, another group of revelers gathered to celebrate Christmas. The hall was neatly trimmed with greenery. The happy and expectant faces of the little ones formed a pleasing picture to behold. The children sang carols and hymns for the audience, and a merry time was had by all who attended. Remembrances were exchanged, and the entertainment provided by the children was enjoyed by everyone.
The Unitarian Society held their festival on Christmas Eve in the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall. The spacious auditorium was well filled. “Mother Goose” was performed as a musical for the children, with Miss Hunt, the soprano of the choir, singing the lead and the Sunday school children playing various characters. Once this had ended, a tree filled with goods was presented to the children, who joyously reaped their harvest. Once the tree had been cleared away, the night belonged to those who enjoyed dancing, with music provided by Porter’s Brockton orchestra. A good time was enjoyed by all.
A private gathering was held at the residence of Mr. Jason Willis. He was joined
by several persons from out of town. Among those present were Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Waite, Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Sexton and family of Springfield, Mr. and Mrs. Buckland of Marlboro, and Miss Margaret Staples. As evening fell, a tree was presented on which was a gift for each person who attended. A fine night of friendship and merriment followed. Several other private gatherings were held around town, and even the almshouse had a tree for Christmas.
While these celebrations were taking place, Easton was being hit by a snow storm. Twenty-two inches of snow had already fallen by Christmas, and the thermometer readings were around 18 degrees below zero. James Rankin recorded a
low of 22 degrees below zero on the Sunday before Christmas. Sleigh rides were a
popular event, and John H. Daley was well known for his. Many a happy person spent a few minutes in his sled, enjoying the bumps and turns and the laughter that accompanied those rides.
Presents ranged from bicycles and pianos to personal items from local merchants. George G. Withington, who had a drug store on Center Street, advertised shaving mugs and brushes, wallets, pocket books and toiletries, match boxes and writing instruments for gift giving. He also supplied a line of Christmas cards priced from one cent to a dollar and a half. Pretty fringed cards were also available, as well as New Year’s and birthday cards.
Frank T. Meninno
Curator, Easton Historical Society and Museum