Eras Journal – Donaldson, R. Abstract
Abstract of Donaldson, R., “Revisiting a ‘well-worn theme’: the Duality of the Australian Christmas Pudding 1850-1950”.
The successful transportation of the nineteenth-century English Christmas to the Australian colonies was hindered by the disparity between the winter setting for Christmas in the northern hemisphere and the summer in the southern. Acclimatisation techniques applied to other areas of colonial life were adapted to aspects of the English Christmas to make them more achievable in the new land. But the images and ideals of an English Christmas remained prominent in public and private discourse, contributing to the dual nature of an Australian Christmas. This duality echoed the duality of Australian identity: the co-existence of a growing national identity and the continued identification with Australia’s place in the British Empire.
This article will examine the fate of the Christmas pudding in Australia within this framework. The hot, brandy-doused pudding was considered unsuitable for summer, and it was the constant subject of debate; numerous suggestions for its replacement or abandonment were made in public forums. Yet the pudding remained at the heart of the images and implementation of private and public Christmas celebrations into the 1950s. This article will argue that the pudding retained its central place because it was both a signifier of Christmas itself and of England; far from being a deliberate aping of British society or an absurd clinging to tradition (as has been argued by some writers), the continued presence of the Christmas pudding in an Australian Christmas was a necessary part of the colonists’ ability to create home and empire in the new environment in which they found themselves.