Let Hope Ring: Holidays in Harvard Square
Churches, Bell Ringing, Giving and Poetry
As an alternative to traditional holiday events, Harvard Square Business Association and their partners will hold safe activities to celebrate community, encourage help for those in need and express hope for brighter days ahead.
The Harvard Square Business Association, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, Cambridge Office for Tourism and Cambridge churches are offering several ways for the community to celebrate outdoors at a physical distance and virtually.
Please enjoy this very special tribute to our local churches entitled, “Sacred Spaces and Good Works” as well as our Holiday Poetry Stroll, Giving Tree and Bell Ringing.
We send sincerest appreciation to the Harvard Square Business Association officers and board of directors. Their leadership and commitment during these challenging times have allowed our staff to continue to work unabated. We are grateful.
We wish you health and happiness during this holiday season. Please continue to take good care,
Denise Jillson, Bill Manley, Amanda Henley and Shaylin Bowers
Sacred Spaces and Good Works
In celebration of our faith-based community and the historically significant buildings that house them, we created a series of 13 videos entitled ‘Sacred Spaces and Good Works’ that commemorate their service to our community.
As with our Pandemic video, these videos were also narrated by Kevin Tyler, an unhoused gentleman, member and friend of the Association. The music was composed and performed by Cal DiGiovanni, a 13-year old Harvard Square street performer.
Each video in this series features a specific house of worship located in the Square and will be released in chronological order (when the church was founded) each day at 3pm as noted below. The video series will be featured on harvardsquare.com as well as Harvard Square’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
December 11th 1632 The First Parish in Cambridge, UU
December 12th 1633 First Church in Cambridge, Congregational
December 13th 1744 Memorial Church of Harvard University
December 14th 1759 Christ Church
December 15th 1844 Old Cambridge Baptist Church
December 16th 1870 The Society of Saint John the Evangelist
December 17th 1873 St. Paul Parish
December 18th 1901 Swedenborg Chapel
December 19th 1928 University Lutheran Church
December 20th 1930 First Church of Christ, Scientist, Cambridge
December 21st 1941 Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church
December 22nd 1961 Holy Trinity Armenian Church
December 23rd 2003 Outdoor Church
To view the complete series, please see here.
During one of the darkest moments in American history, the Civil War, Harvard Square local, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, heard hope ring in the winter air and wrote a poem, “Christmas Bells”, hoping for peace on earth and goodwill to all.
This year, the churches of Harvard Square will spread a message of hope and resilience by ringing their bells in unison, at 3 p.m. on Dec. 11th and Dec. 23rd.
Many will also ring bells on the day that their congregation is featured, including.
- First Parish
- First Church
- Christ Church
- Swedenborg Chapel
- University Lutheran Church
A longstanding Harvard Square tradition, The Giving Tree is both a physical tree and an opportunity to provide essential goods to those who need them. The Harvard Square Business Association will collect hats, gloves, socks, travel-sized hand sanitizer, lip balm and scarves and package these items in watertight bags and place them under the Tree. The Giving Tree is located on Deguglielmo Plaza (27 Brattle St. in front of Bluestone Lane). Gift bags are complimentary for anyone to take. The tree will be up from December 2 through January 6.
New this year, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy will collect online donations in support of The Giving Tree project. All proceeds will be used to purchase items for The Giving Tree, including clothing and gift cards for food from local establishments, which have been impacted by COVID-19. To make a donation, please visit the donation page or contact Shirlynn Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association said, “We are grateful to our many members for their kindness and generosity. In so many ways, Harvard Square is a village. This is one more example of how our village works; we not only care for the Square, but care for our people in the Square. There is a spirit of warmth that is deeply felt during this cold, dark season. The HSBA is committed to this annual Harvard Square tradition.
In addition to Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site we are thankful to East Boston Savings Bank, Cambridge Savings Bank and the City of Cambridge. We also thank Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, Cambridge Office for Tourism, Harvard COOP, JVT Realty, Orinoco, Prellwitz / Chilinski Associates, SEE Eyewear, Trinity Property Management and University Common Real Estate. Their generosity allows us to festively light the Square which provides a cheerful and comforting backdrop for what has been a challenging year for all.”
Jillson further stated, “We are particularly grateful to the Electrical Department under the supervision of Steve Lenkauskas and Tom Grande and the DPW under the leadership of Owen O’Riordan. Staff from both departments worked diligently in helping us decorate the Square and set up the Giving Tree.
Working together, the Square looks merry and inviting and our Giving Tree is humbly providing for people in need.”
Holiday Poetry Stroll
|After a particularly challenging year, the Holiday Poetry Stroll is an opportunity to share hope and light through verse. Designed to be safe and self-guided, this approximately one-hour walking tour around Harvard Square highlights some of Cambridge’s renowned poets, past and present, with a focus on how they found hope in trying times. The tour will also feature window art on vacant storefronts in Harvard Square and poetry ornament keepsakes decorating trees in Deguglielmo Plaza. For more ways to participate this holiday season, check out the park’s website.|
Contact for Poetry Stroll: Anna Christie, Park Ranger.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow