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The Spirit of Christmas Past: Four Centuries of Christmas in New England

December 7 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

CT United States

Join the Gunn Historical Museum and guest lecturer Kenneth Turino, of Historic New England, for a free virtual presentation on Zoom about the history of Christmas. Registration is required. Visit the Gunn Museum’s website to register and receive the Zoom link.

This well-illustrated lecture traces the development of the celebration of Christmas from the time it was outlawed in 17th century New England through the beginning of the 21st century when all the trappings of a traditional Christmas were in place. For many, the celebration of Christmas today is the most important holiday of the year. But many of the customs which we take for granted as part of the current holiday festivities and religious celebrations are actually a product of more recent history. The presentation will look at how Christmas was transformed from a rowdy celebration to a family-centered event. Some Washington, Connecticut Christmas traditions and stories will also be highlighted in this presentation.

Ken Turino is a curator, educator, director, producer, and author. He holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching, Museum Education, from George Washington University. As Manager of Community Partnerships and Resource Development at Historic New England, the oldest, largest and most comprehensive regional preservation organization in the country, he oversees community engagement projects throughout the region and is responsible for the exhibitions program at the Sarah Orne Jewett Museum and Visitor Center and the Langdon House. His exhibitions include the award-winning Yankee Remix with Mass MoCA. His films have been shown on PBS including the prize-winning film, “Back to School: Lessons from Norwich’s (VT) One-Room Schoolhouses.” Ken has published numerous public history articles including many with a focus on interpreting historic sites and on LGBTQ history. Ken’s most recent publication in 2019, with Max von Balgooy, is Reinventing the Historic House Museum, New Approaches and Proven Solutions, editors, for Rowman & Littlefield, was just nominated as book of the year to the National Council on Public History. Currently he has a book on the history of Christmas in development. He has served on the Council for the American Association for State and Local History and teaches a day long workshop on historic houses for them. He frequently consults on interpretive planning and community engagement projects at historic sites. These include Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee, James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange, Virginia, and Trent House in Trenton, New Jersey. Ken is on the faculty of Tufts University in the Museum Studies Department where he teaches courses on Exhibition Planning and Reimagining Historic House Museums.


December 7
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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Gunn Historical Museum


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