In 1859, the editor of The Argus suggested in 100 years Australians would have forgotten the “old Christmas” and have given Christmas a new feel with eucalyptus and acacia decking the halls. Old Christmases were English Christmases of snow, mistletoe, and roast goose all remembered fondly by the early pioneers. I think 157 years on he’d be slightly surprised but relieved to see aspects of those English Christmases still return each year.
In 2011, I wrote five Christmas posts covering the Victorian pioneer years 1850s to 1890s. The following year, I wrote six posts covering the years 1900s to 1950s. In each, I tracked Christmas over the decade, looking at new trends and old traditions. You can read each post by clicking on the decades listed below…
A PIONEER CHRISTMAS
1850s – While some lamented the warm weather, others were enjoying the chance to spend Christmas Day outdoors.
1860s – Weather was still a focus but others got on with the “new” Christmas. Shops decorated their shops and markets were busy
1870s – Father Christmas was in the papers and still, some yearned for an English Christmas.
1880s – Christmas cards were popular and shop decorations continued with Mr Osborne of Portland out doing all with thirty-four lamb carcasses hanging in his butcher shop window.
1890s – Newspapers articles on decorating homes for Christmas were prevalent.
A WESTERN VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS
1900s – The decade of Federation and the first decade of many ahead which would have family members away at war for Christmas. Wicker prams for girls and pop-guns for boys were popular gifts.
1910s – WW1 brought a change to Christmas celebrations due to rationing and loved ones overseas. Christmas billies for the boys at the front were the focus for many.
1920s – Although the war was over, the 1920s were not without hardship with high unemployment among returned servicemen and families adjusting to the loss of the breadwinner. Kodak made a push into the Christmas gift market. By the end of the 1920s, Wall Street crashed and a “Buy Australian” campaign began.
1930s – The depression brought austerity and a simpler Christmas. Economic conditions improved in the later part of the decade and there was a return to prosperity. Electric household goods as Christmas gifts were all the go from 1936.
1940s – Another decade with loved ones away, economic uncertainty and the lingering concern of invasion. War inspired toys were prevalent and the Australian Women’s Weekly was a go-to for all Christmas cooking ideas.
1950s – The 1950s saw the arrival of television and once again loved ones at war. American culture began to infiltrate Australian households as it had never done before.