Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas Snapshot: 1990

Christmas is on this Friday, and this week we focus on how Sydney marked Christmas in 1990.

1990 wasn't as a dramatic as the year before, but Australia was entering the recession "that we had to have". In November, Paul Keating delivered the news that the nation was going to dread.

So Christmas 1990 was going to be tough for some and the fear of losing ones job or income would see some keep their cash in their wallets.

It was up to the retailers to persuade you to put your fears aside as these advertisements show.
Grace Bros were happy to save the best deals until the last moment, a bit of a forerunner to some of the deals you see in the lead up to December 25.

  Christmas 1990 Advertisements Daily Telegraph December (16)

Source: Grace Bros. 1990. "We've Left The Best 'Til Last (Advertisement). The Sunday Telegraph, December 23:18.

Christmas 1990 Advertisements Daily Telegraph December (11) 

Source: Brashs. 1990. "Brashs 4 Day Christmas Sellout (Advertisement)".  The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 21: 22. 

And Woolworths promised lots of specials.

Christmas 1990 Advertisements Daily Telegraph December (9)

Source: Woolworths. 1990. "Christmas brings you Lower Prices (Advertisement)". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 19: 56-57. 

As with 1989, retailers were permitted to trade on the two sundays in the lead up to Christmas Day (December 16 and 23) which actually required legislation by the NSW Government to be passed before it was approved. Sunday trading was generally still not allowed in NSW.

The Christmas Season in Sydney had begun over a month before. On November 11, Grace Bros put on their second annual Christmas Pageant which began the Christmas season as an estimated 200 000 lined city streets to welcome Santa Claus to Sydney on November 11. The parade was held under sunny skies as celebrities and Santa himself was paraded down Macquarie, Market and George Street's through to Darling Harbour.

Source: O'Rourke, J. 1990. "200 000 join parade". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, November 12: 4-5. 

Carols in the Domain  was held on December 22. It had an earlier starting time than today (7:30pm) and the Electricity Commission replaced Esso as the main sponsor.

Source: Anonymous. 1990. "Carols in the Domain". The Sunday Telegraph, December 23: 4. 

Western Sydney had their major carols event to compete with those in the east. On December 16, 40 000 packed Parramatta Stadium for the St George Carols by Candlelight.

Christmas 1990 didn't produce the dramatic news events that shaped the following Christmas, but bushfires on the northern beaches tried to put a dampner on celebrations. Fires swept through suburbs including: Wahroonga, North Turramurra, Forestville, Killarney Heights, Terry Hills & Allambie Heights on December 23. Around 20 homes on the Central Coast were destroyed by fires. Cyclone Joy was also menacing Far North Queensland but was downgraded to a tropical low by the time it crossed the coast near Townsville.

The front page of The Sydney Morning Herald on December 24 1990 with some amazing pictures of bushfires on Sydney's Northern Beaches. 

On Friday, I was taking some Christmas themed photos in the city, and one of my stops was the Queen Victoria Building, where their Christmas tree just becomes more and more ornate each year.

Photos taken by the Author. 

Compare that with 1990, which was quite modest in my view.

Source: Bishop. K. 1990. "Artificial Christmas trees - a growth industry". The Sydney Morning Herald, December 22: 3. 

Next week, New Years Eve 1990 is our focus and then we will scale back to one entry for the month of January. Given the huge interest in old property advertisements, I'll keep them going and that also gives me time to research.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.