About the Tradition

American relief workers in Halifax after the explosion in 1917On December 6th, 1917, a massive explosion rocked the City of Halifax. The Norwegian supply ship Imo collided with the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc, causing the largest man-made explosion the world had ever seen. Close to 2,000 people were killed, hundreds wounded, 1,600 homes were destroyed.

Within hours, the people of Boston came to our aid. Boston authorities quickly organized and dispatched a relief train that night, to assist survivors. A blizzard following the explosion delayed the train, but it arrived the morning of December 8, and workers immediately began distributing food, water, and medical supplies. Medical personnel were able to relieve the Nova Scotia medical staff, most of whom had worked without rest since the explosion occurred. The help from Boston continued throughout the rebuilding process.

In 1918, Halifax sent a Christmas tree to the City of Boston to thank them for their kindness. That gift was revived in 1971 and continues today.

Visit the Public Archives Virtual Exhibit about the Halifax Explosion