Christmas in Beecroft and Cheltenham

As a community, Christmas has been noted in Beecroft since at least the coming of the churches with their celebrations of the birth of Christ. These include carol services, Services on Christmas Eve and often linked with year-end activities like Sunday School prize giving. Sometimes celebrations for children around a Christmas tree were held in the early 1900s (before the churches shifted to more explicitly Christian messages) and in 1912 the tree at the Presbyterian Church was graced,  as “Father Christmas was present in the approved North Pole costume [with] the familiar garments hid the well known figure and face of Mr H Watkins” [1].

Unsurprisingly the consistent message of the churches was that of the Christmas story being the coming of the Saviour of the World, counterintuitively as a baby. The message at the Cheltenham Congregational Church in 1930 was summarised as:

“[The] theme [was] the words ‘no room for Him in the inn.’ The preacher explained that the word ‘inn’ should be translated guest-chamber and that the words meant that the room attached to the primitive Eastern inn was crowded. The kind-hearted inn-keeper did the best he could, and gave to Joseph a secluded part of the yard. There out in the open under a starry wintry sky the Saviour of the world was born. The preacher, showing that it was difficult to get His rightful place, applied the text to industry, business, politics, society and the Church. Our divisions, clubs, officialism and social work were often, he said, an elbowing out of the Master Himself. That was a rather doleful side of things, but we should remember the multitudes who had made room for Him and crowned Him Lord of all” [2].

The Presbyterian Church, for many decades until the early 2000s held a meal in its hall for anyone who did not have a family to go to on Christmas Day.

For many decades Rotary has held a carol service in the Village Green on a Monday night nearer to the beginning of December.

For families, Christmas was a time of present giving a celebration with extended families gathering for a Christmas meal. Christmas trees were present from the earliest times however Christmas lights adorning houses only became exuberantly popular from the early 2000s. 

For some, Christmas has not always been marked as a time of peace and joy.

In 1914 “James Goodwin, Albert Underwood and Harold Wallace were each fined 20s and 6d costs for having behaved in a riotous manner on Beecroft Railway Station on Christmas night. They held an al fresco feast on beer, sardines, and biscuits and strewed the waiting room with the fragments, tore down a notice, hurled the beer bottle about, and shouted their exuberance. They were quite surprised at the charge” [3].

In 1921 one correspondent noted:

“the practice of bandsmen playing at the ‘most unearthly hours’ and ringing the front door bell in quest of donations … It is a late night for most of the parents, who retire tired out and only too anxious to get to sleep, only to be aroused at about 12 o’clock by these blatant noises. The kiddies are awakened and pandemonium reigns”[4].

Christmas being in summertime, is also a time of bushfires. Significant Christmas fires around Beecroft include those on 1904 [5].

At the beginning of the twentieth century the railway published statistics of the number of passengers who purchased railway tickets at each railway station. In 1904 it was noted that during the Christmas public holidays a total of some 200 tickets had been sold and that this had been a significant increase on the previous year [6].

[1]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 28 December 1912 page 8

[2]        Sydney Morning Herald, 24 December 1930 page 10

[3]        Sun, 18 February 1914 page 1

[4]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 22 December 1921 page 12

[5]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 31 December 1904 page 10.

[6]        Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 31 December 1904 page 10.

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