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