August 8, 2022


The View On Cooking

Deep roots: Celebrating cultural traditions in Boston

4 min read

Lifestyle is woven all over the fabric of Boston’s assorted neighborhoods. Across the Metropolis, family and buddies acquire to mark holiday break, familial, and religious events. For people, producing a area in which these traditions get heart phase, recognizes their past, present, and upcoming. In this 1st of a two-component series, we search at festive celebrations and the means in which Bostonians honor their rich cultural traditions.

By Emma Horning

Boston Edison Light Co. float going down Bunker Hill Street (photo: Wolcott Cutler), Boston Public Library
Boston Edison Light-weight Co. float heading down Bunker Hill Avenue, circa 1910-1925, Boston Public Library

All through Boston, numerous households and communities celebrate comparable cultural holiday seasons. When these celebrations may possibly just take place at the very same time, each individual loved ones marks the occasion in their very own one of a kind way. Fenway resident Joyce Ellis remembers how her loved ones celebrated the Xmas holiday break just about every year through her childhood and describes how these reminiscences have influenced traditions she now shares with her personal small children.

Christmas caroling, 1950, MassArt Archives
Xmas caroling, 1950, Massachusetts School of Art and Structure

Preparation for a holiday break party is normally as significantly of a custom as the function itself. Eva Begelman, an East Boston resident, describes how her mom would commence planning for the Rosh Hashanah holiday getaway months in progress. Eva discusses the innovative means her mother held meals new, and how she managed the sensible concerns that occur along with getting ready for massive functions!


Examine out this cookbook that includes common Jewish recipes! The recipes were being compiled by the Sisterhood and Mother’s Club of Temple Mishkan Telfila. This congregation was originally found in Chestnut Hill, but now resides in Brookline following “co-locating” with the Temple Kehillath Israel.  

Temple Kehillath Israel, Brookline, circa 1965, Public Library of Brookline
Temple Kehillath Israel, Brookline, circa 1965, Public Library of Brookline

Quite a few people rejoice unique milestones in life this kind of as birthdays or graduations. Irene Robinson describes the means she and her younger sister took element in their have debutante social gathering. Irene discusses how her coming out get together was less formal and truly included her attending the college graduation celebration of a student her household knew!

Harvard graduation, circa 1898-1930
Alumni, Harvard Class Day Exercise routines, entering Stadium, circa 1898-1930, New York General public Library

Irene also remembers her young sister’s debutante celebration that took place inside of her family’s Roxbury household and was a great deal far more formal than her personal. Irene discusses her sister’s ushers and how they would go on to turn into noteworthy customers of the Black neighborhood in the United States. 

African American debutantes the Questionettes presentation at the Sheraton Universal in Los Angeles, Calif., 1972
African American debutantes the Questionettes presentation, Los Angeles, 1972, UCLA Library

Having aspect in celebrations of one’s heritage provides communities jointly in certain strategies. South Conclusion resident Harry Dow discusses the significance and festivities surrounding Chinatown’s Moon Competition. These days, crowds nevertheless acquire in Chinatown to celebrate this historic pageant even though a related celebration requires place just south of the Town in Quincy!

Chinese New Year celebration, Chinatown, Boston, MA., circa 1968-1970, Boston City Archives
Chinese New Calendar year celebration, Chinatown, Boston, MA., circa 1968-1970, Boston City Archives

Community celebrations generate a area for citizens to choose portion in cultural traditions with each other. Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Luciani explain their childhood recollections of the annual Fisherman’s Feast that took above North and Fleet Streets in their North End neighborhood. They explain the sights and sounds that captured their senses and were being a critical element of the Feast’s tradition.

 Mayor Kevin White with a crowd of parishioners of St. Stephen Church
Mayor Kevin White with a group of parishioners of St. Stephen Church, 1969, Boston Community Library

The Lucianis also describe the sleeper hit of any Feast — the meals! They fondly don’t forget the variety of food stuff the Fisherman’s Feast supplied and the pleasure for a certain variety of pizza!


Nowadays, the Fisherman’s Feast is Boston’s oldest continually functioning festival and nonetheless takes put every single August at North and Fleet Street. Right after a calendar year off, the festivities ended up again on for 2021 and the legendary Flight of the Angel celebration flew the moment again! 

From household gatherings inside properties to festivals that spill into the streets, Boston’s neighborhoods are a put the place loved ones and good friends can gather to celebrate their special society. Significant or compact, these classic situations build a room wealthy with background in which Bostonians embrace their unique heritages and rejoice their past, existing, and potential.

Commencement Day, circa 1885-1930, Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Graduation Working day, circa 1885-1930, Massachusetts College or university of Art and Design

Emma Horning is a Grasp of Library and Information Science candidate at the College of Wisconsin Milwaukee exactly where she is concentrating in Archival Reports.

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