The Spirit of Christmas Past: Four Centuries of Christmas in New England

“The Spirit of Christmas Past: Four Centuries of Christmas in New England” is the title of an upcoming FREE virtual program offered by the Torrington Historical Society on Wednesday, November 17th at 6:30 pm. Kenneth Turino, Manager of Community Partnerships and Resource Development at Historic New England, will be the presenter.

Mr. Turino has published several articles on the history of Christmas and has a book in development. To register please visit This program is sponsored by CT Humanities. This well-illustrated lecture traces the development of the celebration of Christmas from the time it was outlawed in 17th Century New England through the beginning of the 21st Century when all the trappings of a traditional Christmas were in place.

“Waking up the old mare” chromolithograph (1881) published by Currier & Ives (1813–1888)

For many, the celebration of Christmas today is the most important holiday of the year. But many of the customs which we take for granted as part of the current holiday festivities and religious celebrations are actually a product of more recent history. The presentation will look at how Christmas was transformed from a rowdy celebration to a family-centered event. Among the topics discussed are how the Christmas tree became popular, halls were decked, and Santa Claus.

The next virtual program will be held on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, at 6:30 pm. James Ashborn and America’s First Guitar Factory: How a Waterwheel on the East Branch of the Naugatuck River Changed History will tell the fascinating story of Torrington guitar, banjo, and string manufacturer James Ashborn. To register please visit

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