Christmas Hampers in Australia
A Christmas Hamper Remains A Favourite Xmas Tradition In Australia
Along with hanging stockings by the fireplace (or equivalent), stringing lights, and a hot Christmas lunch with turkey and trimmings, Australia has long adopted the Northern Hemisphere tradition of giving a Christmas hamper. Over time, our traditions have evolved. However, there is still nothing better than creating a homemade hamper full of favourites to present to loved ones at Christmas or sending a Christmas hamper to distant relatives.
What goes in a Christmas hamper?
Christmas hampers usually contain seasonal favourites, festive treats or special occasions food items. Traditionally, Christmas hampers in Australia contain British delicacies such as a boiled Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, mince fruit pies, spiced preserves, biscuits, chocolate, or gingerbread. Among the sweets and savouries, hampers also often contain bottles of wine or, for non-alcoholic hampers, tea, coffee or cocoa.
These various articles show that the contents of Australian Christmas hampers may vary, but are generally always contain a selection of popular foodstuffs that are likely to appeal to all, a combination of a few little luxuries, and specific seasonal treats.
The history of Christmas Hampers in Australia
It has long been a popular tradition in Australia to send Christmas hampers to friends and family back in the UK. This article from a Sydney newspaper in 1933 shows the hampers organised for delivery contained a selection of Australian fruit preserves to treat UK family with summer fruits for Christmas.
A Christmas hamper suitable for friends in England has been prepared by the Queensland Preference League, and contains twenty-five food delicacies. The hamper includes pineapple paw-paw, mango and hibiscus preserves, chutnies, tropical fruit confections, fruit-juices and salads, meat products and turtle soup. Orders may be sent to the Queensland Tourist Bureau, Martin Place, up to October 20, and the hamper will be delivered to the home of any friend in the United Kingdom by Xmas Day for £1.
This Xmas hamper in 1952 included the traditional Christmas ham, alcohol, and "all manner of good things".
This photograph from 1928 shows the suggested contents for a Christmas hamper including tinned pineapple cubes, tinned chicken, whitebait, a selection of teabags, custard powder, tinned plum pudding, jelly crystals, preserved fruit, cheese, and Christmas bonbons. Photograph by Illustrations Ltd from the archives of the State Library of Western Australia.
Charitable Christmas Hampers
Stemming from traditions throughout the UK, Australia has a long tradition of giving donations of food, clothes, and toys to distribute charitable hampers to the poor or families in need at Christmas. These articles from Australian newspapers from 1902 to 2000 show the spirit of giving and the various charity hamper raffles that remain popular today.
' Tis on the joyous Christmas
Eve; amid the frost and snow,
That angels, in a woman's garb,
on mercy's mission go.
Then in the cause of charity,
from place to place they roam,
For charity with hearts like these
doth not "begin at home."
With well-filled hampers, nice warm
clothes, how lovingly they'll part,
And thus the golden, sunshine flash
to many an aching heart.
Thus on the joyous Christmas
Eve "sweet Charity" is sure
To thrill with joy and happiness
the hovels of the poor.
The time has come round for steps to be taken in the direction of presenting the annual Xmas hamper to the Beaudesert Hospital. At least it has been the practice during several years past to present a hamper to the institution, and the Mayoress thinks it would be a pity to let the custom die out. So that that lady in this issue is inviting donations with the above object in view. We have no doubt the appeal will be liberally responded to, and the hospital inmates will once more be cheered by the knowledge that at the festive season they have not been forgotten.
These newspaper articles are just two examples of the various Christmas charity hampers and fundraising traditions common in Australia. From 1954, the CWA called on donations of food and books; and in 2000 donations were requested for the St Vincent de Paul Society food hampers and Salvation Army toy drives for Christmas.
Christmas hampers were proudly made to be sent overseas during World War II. This image from 1939 (from the State Library of Queensland) shows young women weaving and packing hampers to be sent to overseas to serving troops.