Christmas in the District

There are many theories regarding the start of Christmas in July in Australia.  We definitely know that the weather in December was not the traditional Christmas cold weather. Even though it is boiling hot here in Australia, the oldies (baby boomer parents, grandparents etc) who mostly in the early days came from Great Britian the land of a baked dinner containing such delights as roast beef, cooked ham and poultry followed by the best deserts including puddings and mince pies that were available at that time of year.  You might be surprised just how many baby boomers and their children still adhere to this timeless ritual (me included). Sitting down to salad and seafood some say takes all the joy out of the festivities of Christmas, but there are a lot of people who prefer that Christmas meal. One hundred years ago in our district by 29th December 1923 it was noticed that Christmas passed off very quietly that year. There was not the usual signs or festivities as in the past mainly due to the drought conditions prevailing at that time. All the shops were reporting a fairly good business for the Christmas week but they said that they had nothing like the usual Christmas Eve rush of previous years, although the boarding houses at Mulgoa and Wallacia were crowded to their utmost capacity with some people having to be turned away. The Nepean river was patronised by a good number of both young and old with a fair number of camping parties. The weather was delightfully cool during the holidays with some light rain falling. In December 1923 St Stephen’s church in Penrith held a fete for three days at the Nepean Picture Theatre that was indeed a scene of brightness and festivity and held in aid of rectory funds. This was an event for which great and careful preparation had been made and was awaited with keen interest, not only by the parishioners but also by the public of the district. There was thanks to the work of an enthusiastic body of ladies and gentlemen connected with the church, particularly the Hon. Secretary Mr John Julius Price, the high expectations that were aroused in regard to this fete were more than realised. The zeal and optimism of the rector Mr L G Hatfield Hall contributed materially to the happy result. The official opening took place at 3.30 p m in the afternoon. The rector expressed pleasure at the visit from the State and Federal members and their wives and the representatives of other denominations. It was said that there had never been a better display of stalls at a local bazaar as was seen at this Christmas Fete and that people should commend the good work of the enthusiastic stall-holders’ labour of love, also a labour of art. The vestibule of the hall was given over to the flower stalls (including pot plants, Cut flowers, Xmas Trees etc) that made a particularly pleasing appearance. The decorations of date palms, artificial roses, streamers, beautiful light shades, greenery etc charmed the eye. The stallholders wore pink paper frocks and the other stalls were delightfully neat and some ingenious designs were put into practice. The refreshment stall was located in the old open-air picture theatre grounds on the western side of the building and the Kindergarten stall on the eastern side and were arranged at the back of the hall. The front portion of the building was kept for seating accommodation for the concerts to be put on later in the week. The members of the Society would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and safe 2024. We look forward to the reopening on Saturday 3rd February 2024.

Sources:- Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 – 1962), Saturday 8 December 1923, page 6, Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 – 1962), Saturday 29 December 1923, page 2