25 June? E.S. Hall wishes you Merry Christmas

From Edward Smith Hall’s Sydney Monitor26 December 1836

Yesterday was Christmas Day…Instead of the old English fire-side, with skaiting [sic] outside and shooting partridges among the turnips, or tracking hares amid the snow, we have a torrid heat, rendered still more oppressive by the steam of extra dishes rising in our faces at meal-times, and causing the sickly appetite with which we sit down to our Christmas fare, entirely to depart.  At church, instead of feeling the comfort of the fire in the tremendous stove, eight feet high in the middle of the church, and of being habited in a great-coat and lamb’s-wool stockings, we could scarcely sit for the heat, although clothed in slight cottons.  In the evening, we are gasping for breath, while the musquitoes and sand-flies worry us at all points- face and wrists, the fine dust from the garden [sticking] to our warm faces and suffusing the room at the same time; so that at length we throw ourselves on the mattrass and try to forget the “merry” Christmas of New South Wales, by getting beneath the musquito-curtains. Such is Christmas-day in this Colony.

…Are we to be for ever troubled with the heat on the anniversary of an event which transpired in winter?- are we to be such slaves to precedent, as to violate a divine festival in its most essential physical points, but continuing to substitute for the winter’s cold of Judae [sic], the torrid heat of an Australian summer?

Well, no- because he had a better idea!  Christmas in winter- in fact, on the 25th June.  After all, the climates of Judaea and NSW were exactly the same, with the same mild winters (?? I’m not sure about this argument!)  Changing Christmas to June would

abrogate the present anomalous and unscriptural custom of celebrating the birth of our Saviour, which took place in the depth of winter, in the middle of summer.  Then we shall be Englishmen, in this respect, once again; and merry, gladening [sic], heartsome, hospitable, recreable [sic], delightful CHRISTMAS, will return to console us for our long exile from the land of our fathers.

But they needed to do it before people became accustomed to a hot Christmas day

If this law be deferred until the Australian-born be all grown up, and their children after them, a hot Christmas, will be to them, the natural Christmas, and they will not comprehend a frosty and cold Christmas, and will object to, as far as their feelings and sympathies may influence them; though their judgment [sic] must see the propriety of the change now proposed by us.

Obviously, E. S. Hall didn’t prevail and he was right- future generations did come to see a hot Christmas as natural.  But happy 25th June anyway.

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