NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

December 12, 2013

An old-fashioned Yuletide

Step back in time with Portsmouth's Vintage Christmas

With Thanksgiving out of the way, Christmas celebrations have been in full swing for a couple of weeks now.

One monthlong celebration currently underway melds holiday spirit with local history for an unmistakably New England take on the season.

“Portsmouth is the perfect town for Vintage Christmas, since it’s a charming blend of contemporary and historical,” said Patricia Lynch, executive director of The Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H. “It’s all about celebrating the winter, the warmth, the light and our collective memories of holidays past.”

Over the next two weekends, a free trolley ride will take visitors around town, giving people plenty of time to preview shops and restaurants that they may want to visit.

“The trolley ride has become an attraction in itself,” said Kathleen Soldati, who is helping organize Vintage Christmas. “It’s a great way to get the overview and decide where to go.”

The Music Hall is hosting various events throughout the month, including a few catered specifically to kids. Tomorrow through Sunday, Great Bay Academy of Dance will perform “An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker,” which will include two shorter “In a Nutshell” shows for kids. The Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra will put on a show with the Sandpipers Seacoast Children’s Chorus on Wednesday.

“It’s the perfect place for the family,” Soldati said.

The 9-year-old celebration also includes the popular Candlelight Stroll that Strawbery Banke Museum has offered for 34 years.

The appeal to family and tradition is exactly what is so nice about Vintage Christmas, according to Seacoast historian J. Dennis Robinson.

“The purpose of any holiday is ‘stopfullness’ — to stop, look around and be aware. Out of that momentary awareness comes a healing and spiritual connection,” he said. “We recognize that we are alive and compare our history against the history of others. The pause is the gift.”

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