Friday, 10 December 2010

Carols by Candlelight

Browsing the web yesterday I came upon an Australian first.
Something I had absolutely no idea about.

Quoting from Wikipedia, which quotes from an old Australian newspaper "The Argus" 24 December 1949 p25 Supplement (which if your interested can be accessed via Trove)

"Carols by Candlelight is an Australian Christmas tradition that originated in southeastern Australia in the 19th century and was popularised in Melbourne in the 1930s. The tradition has since spread around the world. It involves people gathering, usually outdoors in a park, to sing carols by candlelight, accompanied by a band. Today, the largest such event is the original Carols by Candlelight, held annually at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne's King's Domain Gardens on Christmas Eve, since 1938, 71 years.One of the earliest forms of Carols by Candlelight began in the 19th century, when Cornish Miners in Moonta, South Australia would gather on Christmas Eve to sing carols lit with candles stuck to the brims of their safety hats. The tradition spread through Victoria and Melbourne until it was popularised in 1938 by Norman Banks, a radio announcer then with Melbourne radio station 3KZ. Whilst walking home from his night-time radio shift on Christmas Eve in 1937, he passed a window and saw inside an elderly woman sitting up in bed, listening to Away in a Manger being played on the radio and singing along, with her face being lit by candlelight. Wondering how many others spent Christmas alone, he had the idea to gather a large group of people to all sing Christmas carols together by candlelight. The first ever such event was held in Alexandra Gardens the following Christmas, 1938, and was attended by around 10,000 people"

I am always totally amazed at what I learn while doing genealogy research.
You just never know where it will lead you :-))))))

P.S. I was going to insert a photo from Carols In The Domain (Sydney), but I really don't want to invoke copyright - SMH has a great shot here from 2006

P.S.S. Trying really hard to get the Xmas spirit and failing even easier


  1. That is a very useful piece of info.. I never knew that.. It makes me think about, the here and now, How we have to think of things like insurance for our local park sing a long..
    How the Salvos use to be out on the street playing Carols..OR In the back of a ute driving up my street. Do they still do that ??

  2. Very interesting.

    I recently joined a classical chorale group (something on my (TO DO)list and we will be singing in a concert this Sunday. Carols, choirs, music...all good.

  3. I did not know that! That is so cool - that it was invented in Australia! I love it! I'm going to tell everyone I know (whether they are interested or not! LOL). Thank you so much for telling me!

    I know what you mean about the Christmas spirit - so much to do, and end-of-school-term has left me so tired... and every time I attempt some Christmas shopping I start feeling miserable as I walk into the shops! I feel much happier at home with my family - that sounds nice, doesn't it, but this won't ensure pressies on the big day! LOL

    Hope you find some spirit soon,
    Caz :)

  4. What a lovely moving post. And thanks for that bit of history which is news to me. I remember The Argus and also Norman Banks but didn't know the rest.

  5. I have been away from home too long, I had nearly forgotten about Christmas Carols. I used to love going down to the old railroad platform left behind from when they took out the rail road tracks and singing carols on a very warm summer evening with the rest of our little village when I was a small child. What lovely memories I have of those days. Thank you for reminding me of them.