24 December 2015

Christmas Eve 1923

Busy scene in Rundle Street on Christmas Eve 1923

My father, Edward John Horgan would have been 15 years 7 months on Christmas Eve 1923. What did Christmas hold in store for him?  I wonder if they ever went to Adelaide for any shopping. Alma where he lived, is 106 km (65.8 miles) from Adelaide on today's roads, so a trip to Adelaide in 1923 would have been a major undertaking.
His Christmas Day would certainly have included a trip to Mass at either Tarlee or Hamley Bridge with his parents Andrew and Elizabeth and younger brother Joe. After that we imagine the hot traditional Christmas meal served often in temperatures well above 35 degrees Celsius. Eddie's grandmother, Hanora who was 83 at this stage was still living on the farm with his bachelor uncles, Thomas now 52 and John, 48. His aunt Kate, also unmarried but cooking and caring for all of them was now 51. Perhaps they travelled across to the farm at Linwood for Christmas Day.

My mother Hannah O'Dea had moved back to Hamley Bridge by 1923 after the death of her father in 1919. She was 11 years 8 months and her Christmas Day would involve attending Mass in Hamley Bridge with a similar hot meal shared with relatives living in the same town. Her grandmother Maria O'Dea was 82 and living with her two spinster daughters, my mother's aunts Hannah Teresa O'Dea 54 and Margaret I O'Dea now 57 years old. One hopes they treasured their six nieces and nephews. It is highly unlikely that there would have been shopping trips for the family as money was scarce while Mum's now widowed mother, Georgina, struggled to make ends meet.

Perhaps they had one of these 1923 puddings at the end of their meals.

Six-Cup Pudding.

One breakfast cup of each of the following:—Suet, flour, sugar, bread crumbs, fruit (raisins and currants), milk. Mix all the dry ingredients together, pour in the milk, and stir well. Put into a greased basin and boil for five hours. If well boiled and served with a little sauce it is as good as a Christmas pudding, and is more economical.

Suet Pudding.

Six ounces of finely chopped suet, 1lb. flour, and a little salt. Mix and tie up tightly in cloth, then put in saucepan with cold water to cover it. Boil one hour. The result will be a very light pudding, more so than by the old style of boiling the water before putting in the pudding. No baking powder must be used.
1923 'SOME USEFUL RECIPES.', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 7 December, p. 4, viewed 24 December, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108296975

Meanwhile in Adelaide some were enjoying their preparations for the day. Here's the report of Christmas Eve in Rundle St, the main shopping street in Adelaide in 1923, found adjacent to the photo above in "The Register."

City Glamour and Gaiety. The Festive Spirit Abroad
Like a dream when one awakes, fashions; fade away; and each season the many styles in wearing apparel become as a tale that is told. Insatiable as is the thirst for the novel and the new, however, the cherished customs associated with the festive season of Christmas emulate the brook, and go on for ever.
One of the requisites for the success of Christmas Eve, from the viewpoint of the crowds in the streets, is something, or anything, that will make a noise. It does not much matter what it is; but the louder, and more varied the din that can be created by it, the more jubilant the carnival celebrant. 
Mouth-organs, tin-whistles, trumpets, drums, horns, and hooters are popular, to enumerate but a few of the many musical (?) mediums for the expression of the merriment of the masses. But there must also be shriekers! That may not be the technical term by which the instruments are known to the operators, but it seems as good a name as any other to give to those devices which consist of a waxed string attached to a cardboard soundbox, and which, when fingers are drawn down the string, give forth a sound that can be best likened to the last gasp of a dying goose— a sound subtly suggestive of Christmas.

Did you ever make a sound box like the one described above? Merry Christmas to all, I hope your sounds of Christmas are not best 'likened to the last gasp of a dying goose' but those of happy laughter and goodwill.

1923 'CHRISTMAS EVE.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 26 December, p. 7, viewed 24 December, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65059422

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