Santa Claus entertains wartime Brisbane and Ipswich in 1940

Santa Claus visits the Red Cross Fete held at Government House in Paddington, 15 December 1940

Santa Claus visits the Red Cross Fete held at Government House in Paddington, 15 December 1940

During December 1940, Santa Claus was run ragged bringing joy to little Queenslanders with non-stop appearances at hospitals, fetes, retail stores and other functions. One of his most important jobs is to cheer children less fortunate at Christmas time. Santa’s visit to the Hospital for Sick Children at Herston in Brisbane’s inner north was anxiously awaited by all its young patients. Presents were distributed from under the Christmas tree; for those too ill to be moved from their beds, Santa went from ward to ward. In the children’s ward of Ipswich Hospital a special meal of turkey, plum pudding and Christmas cake was served to celebrate Santa’s visit. On December 15, Santa also made an appearance at the Red Cross Fete held at Government House, Paddington (pictured above), in the city’s inner west.

Headline from The Courier-Mail, 21 December 1940

Headline from The Courier-Mail, 21 December 1940

On December 20, Santa decided to give his reindeer a rest, choosing to arrive by aeroplane at the Christmas party for the children of RAAF personnel at Archerfield, in the city’s south. This grand entrance backfired somewhat as the children appeared more interested in the plane than Saint Nick. “What does it matter how he comes so long as he brings something with him?” said one nine-year-old boy. “Planes or chimneys, it’s all the same to me.”

Santa Claus on his plane as he entertains the children of RAAF personnel stationed at Archerfield. December 1940

Santa Claus on his plane as he entertains the children of RAAF personnel stationed at Archerfield. December 1940

Santa made a different entrance at the yuletide party for the Queensland Musical Literary and Self-Aid Society for the Blind, this time arriving by goat cart. Also keen to support local businesses, Santa made an appearance at T.C. Beirne in inner-city Fortitude Valley. This allowed the retailer to promote the perfect Christmas gift: fur-covered animals and mechanical toys for the children, and beachwear, shoes and sandals in contrasting colours for the adults.

Santa Claus arrives by goat cart at the Queensland Musical Literary and Self-Aid Society for the Blind yuletide party, December 1940

Santa Claus arrives by goat cart at the Queensland Musical Literary and Self-Aid Society for the Blind yuletide party, December 1940

Santa Claus with the children of the members of the Incapacitated & Wounded Sailors and Soldiers Association at the Trocadero. December 1940

Santa Claus with the children of the members of the Incapacitated & Wounded Sailors and Soldiers Association at the Trocadero. December 1940

State Library of Queensland holds a number of collections documenting how Queenslanders have celebrated Christmas over the years, including digitised photographs and Christmas cards which can be perused online.

Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

 

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