Horsham of Christmas past

Christmas in the 1930s is evoked in the new exhibition at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, recalling those years when the Victorian image of the season’s festivities gave way to the celebration we know and love today.

In those days Christmas began on Christmas Eve, not in mid-August, when the family gathered to decorate the tree. By the 1930s tinsel and cheap metal decorations common, bought in shops now gone such as Woolworths. Electric fairy lights were then becoming popular, although candles were still widely used to light Christmas trees. Many of the features of Christmas we take for granted today, such as Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, and the Queen’s Speech, began in the 1930s, although popular entertainment was then found on the radio, as the first regular television broadcasts (and then only to a very few households) did not start until near the end of the thirties.

Board games were enormously popular, appealing to both children and adults; they helped bring the family together on Christmas Day. The children’s market saw a large number of special annuals produced each year in the 1930s, led by new favourites such the Beano and the Dandy.

The ‘Vintage Christmas’ exhibition features toys and gifts, historic decorations and domestic items from that era, all drawn from the Museum’s collections: a perfect way to compare Christmas Past with Christmas Present.

‘Vintage Christmas’ is open until Wednesday 31 December 2014 at Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum & Art Gallery.

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