Cultural celebrations change with the times, but for Griffith, the Christmas traditions of family, food and faith have remained the same since the 1900s.
Pioneer Park Museum’s curator Bonnie Owen takes a look back to Bagtown’s Christmas, through the memories of resident May Fallon.
Watch her explain the Christmas traditions below:
Her family, the Boyles, moved to a Hanwood farm in 1914 when she was just 14 years old.
In an interview with the Museum’s Robyn Oliver in 1994, May describes the festive season as one not of commercial spending or decoration competitions, but of family and simple gestures.
While dances at the time were social events, and birthdays were for presents, family was the ticket at Christmas, or just a day off work.
The men in the Boyle family would put down their tools, but there was no “great gathering” of family and friends, without the travelling “that they do now.”
The immediate family would gather at May’s parents place for a midday meal, made from produce of their own property.
Decorations consisted of mistletoe over the door, and a tree branch fro the Christmas tree to give the festive cheer.
With a rooster or two eaten hot, as there was no fridges back then, farm veggies, plum pudding with silver coins, and custard and cream from their cow.
With the prohibition in place over “the Area” getting merry wasn’t on the cards for most residents.
However while family weren’t imbibing alcohol on the day, many single men working in Bagtown at the time would get a ride into Whitton, which was outside the alcohol prohibition area.
If they had enough money they would bring some drink home, and May remembered stories of a fight, or several, would then break out.
While the Boyle family has been described as instrumental in bringing the Church to Griffith, it was very hard to celebrate with a service at the time.
The nearest priest was based in Leeton, and while did come over for services, it was too far for a special Christmas mass.
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