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Boston holiday traditions to fill city with cheer - Metro US

Boston holiday traditions to fill city with cheer

During the holiday season there are many great traditions in Boston that date back decades, and some even centuries.

On Friday morning, Boston’s official Christmas tree will arrive by police escort from Nova Scotia. Since 1971, Nova Scotia has donated a giant evergreen tree to Boston as a thank-you for our assistance following the 1917 Halifax Explosion. The official Boston tree will stand in the Boston Common and be lit on Dec. 4.

On Saturday, one of college football’s greatest rivalries, “The Game,” will be played for the 131st time. First played in 1875, this year’s Harvard vs. Yale game will host ESPN’s College GameDay live (for the first time ever) from Harvard Square.

Also on Saturday, Boston’s biggest Christmas tree will kick­off the 2014 holiday season with the annual tree lighting ceremony in Faneuil Hall. Standing at 85 feet tall, the Faneuil Hall Christmas tree is the exact same height as the world famous tree in Rockefeller Center. “It’s a beaut Clark! It’s a beaut!”

Another football rivalry that dates back to the 1880s is the Boston Latin vs Boston English Thanksgiving Day football game. First played in 1887, this is the oldest continuous high school football rivalry in the United States. The Wellesley High vs. Needham High Thanksgiving Day football game actually started five years earlier in 1882, but there were a few years in which the game wasn’t played ­ they are the oldest public high school rivalry in the US.

One final tradition — that’s never enjoyed — is the annual 56-mile backup on the Mass Pike on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. From Boston to Sturbridge, you can expect to see all of Boston fleeing the city for plump turkeys out west. The backup on the Mass Pike is legendary, so give yourself plenty of time to get home — and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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