A Pioneer Christmas 1870s Style

Christmas in Victoria during the 1870s saw the mood change a little from the yearning for an English Christmas to acceptance of the Australian Christmas but the comparisons were still being made.  Father Christmas was getting talked about more in the 1870s than in the previous two decades. He received a mention by way of a poem in the Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser in 1875.

Poet’s Corner. (1875, January 1). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 4 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved December 19, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64746107

The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, a paper I enjoy reading, discussed the adjustments Father Christmas himself had to make to the Australian conditions.

Sketches with Pencil. (1875, December 25). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), p. 150. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60606552

Christmas 1871 Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/252252

The Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, however, was more sentimental about Father Christmas and the season.

The Kerang Times AND SWAN HILL GAZETTE. (1879, December 25). Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette (Vic. : 1877 – 1889), p. 2 Edition: WEEKLY.. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66494958

Food was again a focus.  One exciting place to visit was the Christmas Eve market in Melbourne.  That was unless you were one of the many country producers who brought their produce into the city, often having travelled long distances and then enduring uncomfortable conditions upon arrival.  What a sight it would have been to see their 1200 or so carts lined up, some adorned in ferns and other greenery.

CHRISTMAS EVE MARKET. (1874, December 24). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 6. Retrieved December 19, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11509641

Campbell & Sons of Julia Street Portland advertised an array of new products for Christmas of 1877.  It seems that the Portland pioneers had no difficulty in sourcing the ingredients necessary for a plum pudding or tableware to complement the Christmas lunch.

Advertising. (1877, December 21). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENINGS.. Retrieved December 19, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63340222

“THE SHILLING SHOP ON CHRISTMAS EVE.” The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889) 23 December 1876: 145

The editor of the Camperdown Chronicle in 1877, suggested the  Australian Christmas celebration was now accepted, with the young knowing nothing else.  Those who could still remember an English Christmas, held the memory dear, however.  I think the editor may have been in that camp.

The Chronicle. (1877, December 25). Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954), p. 2 Edition: BI-WEEKLY. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64013025

The Australasian Sketcher was an illustrated newspaper, but its descriptive text also paints a picture.  The first article from 1875,  creates such an idyllic image of the day with picnics and boating.   The second article from 1873, with its reference to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, describes the heat in such a way, one can almost envisage the “pavement of burning marl”.

Sketches with Pen. (1875, December 25). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), p. 150. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60606554

“CHRISTMAS DAY AT BRIGHTON BEACH.” Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875) 30 December 1874: 7

 

Sketches with Pen. (1873, December 27). The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), p. 166. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60607026

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