Stars and Christmas lights cover a red background.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/collection/hero_image12-2020/christmas_cc-hero.jpg

Christmas

Australian Christmas stories

An Aussie Christmas Down Under

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Not in Australia!

It's that time of year when Santa Claus hits the surf and Rudolph's nose gets shinier in the summer heat. Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute!

This collection explores different aspects of Christmas in Australia, including happy family moments and vintage shopping.

Terry Willesee's Perth Christmas poem
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
306069
Courtesy:
Nine Network
Year:
Year

Newsreader Terry Willesee treats Nine News viewers to a Christmas poem highlighting Perth's best lights from Marangaroo, Morley and Armadale.

Originally broadcast on STW-9 Perth on 24 December 1996.

Silly Christmas gift guide with Jeanne Little
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1264712
Courtesy:
Mike Walsh AM, OBE Hayden Productions
Year:
Year

Jeanne Little delights in showing Mike Walsh a number of amusing potential novelty Christmas gifts.

She starts with the relatively safe fake wine bottle dust but goes for the comedy jugular by handing Mike a sex toy. The studio audience loves it.

This was daytime television in 1980 and Jeanne got away with behaviour that others wouldn't have, by using comedy and a daffy persona.

This clip is a great example of Jeanne's style of improvised comedy. Although her segments look effortless, a lot of preparation went into them.

Each of the weekly segments (on live television) often lasted for 10 to 15 minutes unscripted – which is an impressive achievement.

To learn and see more, visit the Jeanne Little curated collection.

Excerpt taken from The Mike Walsh Show: Episode 204 broadcast on 20 November 1980.

Notes by Beth Taylor

Santa Baby by Kylie Minogue
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
460497
Courtesy:
Seven Network
Year:
Year

Kylie Minogue performs Eartha Kitt's 1953 Christmas hit 'Santa Baby' at the Concert for the Interfet Troops at Dili Stadium, East Timor in December 1999.

Kylie's flowing sexy satin dress has clearly been chosen to accentuate the suggestive lyrics and the song's luxurious feel.

The multicamera shoot covers the action of the concert adequately. Hearing and seeing the crowd of troops react to the coyly provocative dancers contextualises the concert's charged atmosphere.

Notes by Mel Bondfield

Silent Night by Paul Robeson
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
43782
Year:
Year

American singer Paul Robeson sings 'Silent Night' to a group of Australian schoolchildren in this special broadcast on the ABC in 1960. He then delivers a short speech to the children about peace on Earth.

The studio set mimics a cosy Christmas living-room atmosphere but as soon as the audience applauds it's obvious that the children are not the only witnesses to Robeson's performance.

Carefully rehearsed lighting changes, camera movements and crisp audio give the piece a slick feel. It is surprisingly professional, especially as it was recorded just four years after television broadcasting began in Australia. The simple one camera production is effective in creating a feeling of intimacy for viewers.

'Silent Night' ('Stille Nacht' in German) is a traditional Christmas carol composed in 1818 by primary school teacher Franz Xaver Gruber to accompany lyrics written by Austrian priest Joseph Mohr.

Notes by Beth Taylor

Ebeneezer Scrooge Christmas ad
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
50234
Year:
Year

This Joyce Mayne ad from 1989 contains multiple layers of delight for retro ad lovers.

There's the amateur make-up, the camera's use of the crash zoom, the deliberate audio malfunction in the dodgy rendition of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' and the cheesy game show-style voice-over reminiscent of Tim Shaw's 'But wait, there's more!' catch-cry.

This is a great example of advertising as an expression of the hopes and desires of people living in that time. The products being advertised include a walkman – which played cassettes and was the precursor to the discman which played CDs, a Samsung television (with remote!) and a Sharp video camera. It's fascinating to think that a smartphone now has the same capabilities (and more) as these three items combined.

The miserly character of Ebeneezer Scrooge references the famed character in Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol.

This ad comes from a recording of NBN 3 News, Newcastle on 21 December 1989.

Notes by Beth Taylor

Christmas lights winners - Brisbane
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1541093
Courtesy:
Seven Network
Year:
Year

Finalists in Brisbane radio station 4KQ's annual Christmas lights competition are announced with a look at many of the impressive entries.

Originally broadcast on Seven News Brisbane on 6 December 2015.

The reporter is Michael Coombes and the newsreader is Katrina Blowers.

Notes by Beth Taylor

Santa Claus comes to town!
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
263387
Courtesy:
Cinesound Movietone Productions
Year:
Year

Santa rides a tram down Bourke Street in Melbourne in 1959.

Christmas was big business for the city's department stores and Myer's has a circus ring complete with performing pony and clown, as well as the obligatory opportunity to meet with Santa.

Excerpt from a Cinesound Review newsreel from 1959.

Content warning: this clip features animals performing in a circus context. The NFSA does not endorse the use of animals for entertainment purposes and presents these clips as part of Australia's audiovisual history.

Notes by Beth Taylor

Melbourne Christmas karaoke
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
246288
Courtesy:
Nine Network
Year:
Year

The people of Melbourne take on a karaoke challenge, singing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' in Bourke Street as the sign-off for this National Nine News, Melbourne bulletin.

News presenter Peter Hitchener describes it as 'the sounds of Christmas in the city'.

Original broadcast date: 23 December 1993.

Notes by Beth Taylor

'We Need a Little Christmas' by Jeanne Little
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1504157
Courtesy:
Network Ten
Year:
Year

Jeanne Little – dressed in one of her special Christmas outfits that she made herself – brings the magic of Christmas to viewers of Good Morning Australia in 1994.

She sings the classic track 'We Need a Little Christmas' from Jerry Herman's broadway musical Mame.

Angela Lansbury performed the song in the first production of the show on Broadway in New York in 1966 and Jeanne gives an accomplished rendition here.

Known for her comedy, Jeanne's sophisticated singing talent was first revealed on The Mike Walsh Show in the 1980s. She went on to perform in musicals such as Jerry's Girls and her one-woman shows Hello Dahling! and Marlene - A Tribute to Dietrich.

The song shows off Jeanne's rich voice beautifully and the arrangement is simple yet elegant. Musical television mainstay John Foreman provides accompanyment on piano.

Jeanne is a storyteller first and foremost, setting the scene before she sings. This performance is a great example of Jeanne's mix of original costuming, music and comedy to tell stories.

Learn more about the Gold Logie – winning entertainer in the Jeanne Little curated collection.

Excerpt from Good Morning Australia: Episode 693, broadcast 16 December 1994.

Notes by Beth Taylor

Tagalog Christmas greeting
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
275161
Courtesy:
Southern Cross Austereo
Year:
Year

A Tagalog greeting produced as part of the Central Television Network Christmas promos with multicultural themes. Broadcast date: December 1994.

Central Television Network, now known as Southern Cross GTS/BKN, is a South Australian regional television station, based in Port Pirie.

Christmas Under The Sun
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
138053
Year:
Year

Take a trip down memory lane into the suburbs of Adelaide. Christmas in Australia is a mid summer festival, with temperatures rising high. Over the years many of the traditional northern hemisphere Christmas customs have been modified to fit the climate. Cool drinks have taken the place of hot refreshments and much time is spent out of doors but the spirit of Christmas is unchanged and Santa Clause still arrives with snow glistening in his beard!

Winning Christmas card design
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
257670
Year:
Year

Six-year-old Gunningbland primary school student Shane Hourigan wins a Christmas card design competition. The tiny school west of Parkes has just eight students.

This report by Melanie Wendt is a good example of the sort of positive stories often reserved for the end of a news bulletin. The concisely edited story elements, including the brief interview with the shy (but 'excited') winner, are effective in delivering a heartwarming and  inclusive feeling for viewers.

The newsreader is Peter Andren who went into politics and represented the federal seat of Calare as an independent from 1996 until his death in 2007.

Originally broadcast on Prime News Orange on 11 October 1994.

Notes by Beth Taylor

Christmas Lights
Year:
Year

Ever wondered what drives people to spend up to 11 months of the year and thousands of dollars on Christmas lights? Meet the Watsons, the Greenways and the Overtons, some of Australia’s most passionate Christmas enthusiasts, and discover the meaning and motivation behind their curious and creative passion.

Made at Film Australia as part of a staff development initiative, Christmas Lights was created by first-time filmmakers utilising the experience of senior Film Australia staff and industry professionals to create a wonderful short documentary that was screened on both domestic and international TV and shown at various film festivals.

Produced in association with Film Australia. Distributed by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. © Rachelle Bakarich, Lizzie Fisher and Jimmy Foggo.

Notes by Beth Taylor

John Farnham and LRB at Carols By Candelight
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1511977
Courtesy:
Nine Network
Year:
Year

John Farnham, who had recently joined Little River Band, performs 'Silent Night' at Carols By Candelight in 1982 with band members Graeham Goble and Beeb Birtles.

There is a softness and intimacy to this performance, which makes it appropriate for the camera to focus closely on the trio on the softly-lit stage.

The slow fades to the sea of candles in the audience visually complements the lullaby quality of the song's melody.

Christmas In Australia
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
21160
Year:
Year

Christmas is celebrated in the middle of the Australian summer under a blazing sun. But even in the heat it is a season for traditional things; for family affairs and meeting with friends.

This film was scanned at 4K resolution in 2018 by the National Archives of Australia on behalf of the National Film and Sound Archives. Footage from this scan was used in the feature film by Bruce Beresford - Ladies In Black (Australia, 2018).

Italian Christmas greeting
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
275844
Courtesy:
Southern Cross Austereo
Year:
Year

An Italian greeting produced as part of the Central Television Network Christmas promos with multicultural themes. Broadcast date: December 1994.

Central Television Network, now known as Southern Cross GTS/BKN, is a South Australian regional television station, based in Port Pirie.

Hungarian actress Käthe von Nagy in a convertible car, with a Christmas tree in the back seat.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/12-2016/1083086.jpg
Käthe von Nagy's Christmas tree
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1083086
Year:
Year

Hungarian actress Käthe von Nagy (1904-1973) taking her Christmas tree home on her fast, fancy car. From our Taussig collection of film stills.

Merry Indie Christmas

At Christmas time, our Sound Curators research and acquire a small number of compositions by independent Australian artists for preservation in the NFSA collection. These songs and artists are unique because their work has not been published by a major label, and it isn't easily found. These songs have been carefully selected; they are a refreshing take on Christmas, and will be unknown to a majority of our listeners. You can discover a small selection in this playlist

'All I Want For Christmas'
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
262033
Courtesy:
Cinesound Movietone Productions
Year:
Year

This excerpt from a Cinesound Review newsreel from 1954 is a great example of the perennial upbeat Christmas story.

It is interesting to see how the tradition of children meeting with Santa at department stores and malls has changed over time.

Here in the 1950s the children sit on Santa's lap and one child even kisses Santa on the lips after he asks if she loves him – a sight that would horrify parents and alert authorities today.

Happy, Happy Christmas. Musical Greeting Card
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1001710
Year:
Year

A recording of a 'John Mystery,' singing card, printed as a Christmas card, with a 9cm diameter flexi-disc inside. These were considered a bit of a novelty at the time and were (relatively) cheaply made, able to be played on standard record players. You will notice this recording has a slight pitch-shift effect, that comes and goes in cyclic pattern. This would be due to the central hole not being perfectly centered, leading to an imbalance of audio decoding - not unlike the feeling you get when going round-and-round on a spinning top in the playground!

Original recording was on a 9cm flexi-disc. Image is of the actual greeting card record.

Santa at Anthony Hordern Pavilion (Here Comes Santa)
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
7468
Year:
Year

A crowd of 20,000 people welcoming Santa as he arrives by horse-drawn carriage at the Anthony Hordern Pavilion, Sydney.

Santa lands at Farm Cove (Here Comes Santa)
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
7468
Year:
Year

This clip from a silent, black-and-white cinema advertisement for Anthony Hordern & Sons shows Santa landing on Sydney Harbour by seaplane and being rowed ashore to Lady Macquarie’s Chair where he is welcomed by a large crowd.

Australasian Gazette: Annual Christmas Treat
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
50134
Courtesy:
Australasian Gazette
Year:
Year

This segment from an old cinema newsreel shows Christmas celebrations for children at the Victoria Barracks in Sydney, including a live puppet show and Father Christmas handing out presents.

Christmas Pantomime: The Story of Dick Whittington
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1559198
Courtesy:
Nine Network
Year:
Year

This is an excerpt from Adelaide TV station NWS9's 1966 production of The Story of Dick Whittington.

The clip features David Flatman as Dick Whittington, Pam Western as Alice, Carole Stace as Jenny the Cat and Hedley Cullen as Mr Fitzwarren.

The cat costume worn by dancer Carole Stace in Dick Whittington was so hot they needed a crew member standing by with a fan to cool her through the eye and nose holes. Unfortunately, the fan also accidentally shaved off the whiskers on the cat!

In the early years of Australian television, NWS9 in Adelaide produced an annual Christmas pantomime.

Other fondly remembered productions of theirs included Cinderella (1962), Aladdin (1963) and Jack and the Beanstalk (1964).

Glass slide with the lyrics for I'll be Home for Christmas
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/12-2016/782667.jpg
I'll Be Home for Christmas
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
782667
Year:
Year

Printed glass slide featuring the lyrics the song I'll Be Home for Christmas (If Only in my Dreams). This slide would have been used for cinema audience sing-alongs, which occurred before the feature and at intervals during the night's screenings. They would have also been used in churches or community gatherings or events.

Christmas Crackers: Homecoming
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
243717
Year:
Year

This amateur film from 1945 shows the joy of a family reuniting at the end of the Second World War after the men return from overseas service.

Phantom Time, Episode 50 - A Christmas Visit
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
576664
Courtesy:
Grace Gibson Productions
Year:
Year

In this episode of the 1958 radio series Phantom Time, husband and wife Lewis and Thelma Waring receive a visit from a mysterious stranger while on their Christmas holidays in a remote cottage in the south of France. This episode was written and directed by Maurice Travers and produced by Fidelity Radio Productions.

Brett Clements, Woodrow the Bloodhound and Edith Bliss. Brett and Edith are dressed in Santa suits and Woodrow is wearing reindeer antlers
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/08-2019/519141_0002_brett-edith-woodrow.jpg
Wonder World's Brett, Woodrow and Edith Celebrate Christmas
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
519141
Courtesy:
Simon Townsend
Year:
Year

Reporters Brett Clements and Edith Bliss from Simon Townsend's Wonder World!, along with Woodrow the Bloodhound, dress up for Christmas. 

This undated photograph is possibly a promotional shot for the show's Christmas Day special in 1984. 

Babe: Christmas barbarians
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
278933
Courtesy:
Universal Studios Licensing
Year:
Year

Mrs Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) has just measured Babe, because she’s planning on roast pork for Christmas lunch. The old ewe Maa (Miriam Flynn) is disgusted at the thought of someone eating a pig, but Babe is none the wiser. He sings a happy Christmas carol. Mr Hoggett (James Cromwell) has second thoughts about killing the pig. Summary by Paul Byrnes.

Babe was nominated for seven Oscars - including Best Picture and Director - in 1995. It won the award for Visual Effects (Scott E Anderson, Charles Gibson, Neal Scanlan, John Cox).

Hark the Herald Fairies Shout: Gay Liberation Quire interview
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1170599
Courtesy:
2SER 107.3
Paul van Reyk
Year:
Year

An interview with members of the Gay Liberation Quire broadcast as part of Gaywave's Stonewall Special in 1981.

The clip features the Quire's songs 'Hark the Herald Fairies Shout' and 'God Help You Merry Dykes and Poofs'.

The Quire had their debut performance, singing satirical versions of Christmas carols and other popular songs, at Belmore Park as 1,000 people assembled for the Stonewall March on 27 June 1981.

Image of Neil Fitzgerald and Phil Stevenson at the launch of Hormones or Jeans, the Gay Liberation Quire EP, 1983. Photograph by Paul van Reyk from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (www.alga.org.au).

Notes by Beth Taylor

Actor Arthur Tauchert, dressed as Santa Claus and holding a large doll, looks at a sleeping child. Lottie Lyell watches from behind the door.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/12-2016/394699.jpg
Santa is watching you... always!
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
394699
Year:
Year

A scene from the 1923 film The Dinkum Bloke, starring Lottie Lyell and Arthur Tauchert. Directed by Raymond Longford.

Santa Claus Talking With Children, 1946
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
248535
Year:
Year

A host chats with children who are visiting Santa Claus in 'Santaland'. The hot topics include, 'What would you like for Christmas?'

The recording was made in Anthony Horden's Department Store in Sydney in 1946. It is probably part of an unidentified 2GB broadcast.

The three children are: Robin Voigt (aged 3), her brother Peter (aged 5) and their cousin Carolyn Fisher (aged 6).

The original recording is on a radio transcription lacquer disc.

Notes by Beth Taylor