In celebration of the holiday season, we bring you a cheery selection of photographs, one video and other paraphernalia that shed light on the ways Australians celebrated christmases past.
Many of these sources come from the State Library of QLD, which has digitized significant parts of its collections and made them available to the public via wikicommons. We’ve also raided the National Archives of Australia’s PhotoSearch.
On 25 December 1913, this Baroona family stood around their piano to sing together (or maybe just pose for the camera?).
And two Christmases later, the nation was at war. This front cover of the Queenslander’s Christmas supplement depicts a lonely Christmas without those family members who had been sent to fight in far away battles.
In December 1938 , the Sanitary Man (also known as the ‘Dunny Man’) left this Christmas note, nostalgic for the backyard dunny (that’s a toilet, for our non-Australian readers!) that was being replaced as the sewerage network expanded in Australian cities.
This scared kangaroo stared on the cover of the December issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly in 1954, continuing a long tradition of non-religious and Australiana-themed Christmas covers. You can see more at McWriter’s project blog.
This quaint video made by the Commonwealth film unit in 1958 includes some great footage of city shopfront Christmas window displays, workplace holiday parties, a hospital nursery, and a country church. Very cheesy, but very cool.
In 1964, this Dutch Santa, accompanied by ‘black peter’ paraded through the streets of Melbourne. In the Dutch tradition, black Peter is Santa’s slave or servant, played by a white man in black face. Surprisingly this racist tradition is alive and well in Holland, where many are campaigning against it.
In 1970, this Santa visited a Sydney store (vague, we know), with a kangaroo in tow.