Celebrating the Holidays in Downtown Hingham


Susie Anderson

Talbots lights up North Street with intricate wreaths and its annual Christmas tree.

Susie Anderson, Contributing Writer

The holiday spirit is alive and well in downtown Hingham despite the cancellation of the annual Christmas in the Square celebration. In a year of adjustments and alterations, the beloved 40-year tradition was no exception to the rule, reimagined through alternative festivities for the enjoyment of Hingham citizens. Lynn Barclay, Executive Director of the Hingham Downtown Association (HDA), shares the committee’s plan to Wicked Local.

Dating back to the 1980s, downtown Hingham celebrated the holiday by closing its streets and spreading cheer through the arrival of Santa atop the firetruck on South Street, live music by local artists and students, snow on the train tunnel cap, and more. Sophomore Anabelle Platt comments on the canceled evening, “I’m going to miss the big candy canes, they were always a highlight.” Alongside tasty concessions from local businesses, another sophomore, Aiden Stuart, states that he is “saddened by the loss of performers this year.” The appeal of the event ranges from all ages as thousands of South Shore residents have attended over the years.

Susan Achille, Shop Manager of the Hingham Historical Society and longtime member of the HDA, reflects on her experiences from Christmas in the Square to the Harbor Light. She recalls that Hingham always celebrated the holidays in a small way before the establishment of the event. They did so until the old Town Merchants Association and a few other townspeople came together to design a larger celebration. The group cooperated to form an evening with choral groups, dances, and the earliest version of activities now quintessential to the celebration of Christmas in the Square. 

Achille shares her fondest memory was when, “Santa Claus would stay in his seat until he saw every child; he would have icicles dripping from his beard and mustache, and still stay until every last child was visited.” On the current status of Christmas in the Square, Achille says, “Lynn Barclay has continued to keep things moving, and under the circumstances, it is not an easy job to do.”

Barclay shares adaptations for the season and presents activities in town square throughout the month of December, including music and shops open until eight over the first three Thursdays of the month. Additionally, the past two Thursdays hosted an ice sculpture demonstration illustrating the process of carving and transforming a block into a depiction of Santa. 

While the tradition of Christmas in the Square falls at the fate of social-distancing protocols, the Luminaria Festival established in 2017 will continue on December 17th-18th. For 20 dollars members of the town may purchase a luminaria bag with a canned good as weight and join in the tradition of illuminating the Square. Hingham will donate this food item to the Hingham Food Pantry following the event. Citizens are encouraged to write their name, a message commemorating those who’ve passed, or a festive greeting in their bag and forge a new tradition involved in the community.

Barclay emphasizes the significance of supporting local businesses and business owners in uncertain times as the HDA continues to promote exciting activities for all ages. A mailbox for Santa sits in front of La Petite Maison, where letters are sent straight to the North Pole. Those with full return addresses may even hear back from Mr. Claus himself! Cutouts of a snowman and gingerbread man provide a backdrop for holiday pictures. Around every corner of the Square, lamp posts hang garlands and lights, store windows welcome shoppers with greenery and decorations, and smiles are shared behind masks. The HDA reminds visitors to maintain social distancing and wear a mask while taking part in the holiday fun.