Are you feeling the Christmas spirit? It’s been a long, difficult year for many people, and we are all holding our breath hoping that Omicron doesn’t get a hold of us. But this isn’t the first time in history when we’ve been in the grips of something bigger than ourselves. The first significant Australian action of WWI was the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force’s landing on Rabaul on 11 September 1914. Our participation in WWI sent a frisson throughout Australia and we thought it would be interesting to see how it impacted Yass at Christmas time in 1914.

The Yass Courier, which is available on Trove (a free online repository of Australian newspapers, journals, and ephemera) says the following:

“Although the earlier part of what was regarded as Xmas week did evince much activity in business circles, as the great festival neared a decided improvement took place. On Xmas Eve both in the afternoon and evening Cooma-street was one mass of moving people. As far as could be ascertained from our business people, the returns showed little if any falling off as compared with last year. In some few cases they even surpassed the previous year’s takings. It is a healthy sign that so normal a condition should prevail.

“Christmas Day was ushered in by the customary parade of Cooma-street by the Yass Town Band. Outside a number of places they discovered a musical programme of sacred selections including the universally recognised Christmas Carol “Adeste Fidelis”. This is one of those recognised innovations which make Yass in the realm of modernity coupled with the habits of early Christian Association.

“At both the Catholic and Church of England services, the congregations were large. At the former a specially augmented choir with Miss Sheekey at the organ, the principal vocal parts by Misses Davis, Kenny, Messrs Patmore and S. Kenny, assisted by Mr. P. J. McCauley took part. Mrs. A. Neale Pearce assisted at the ceremonies, and contributed vocal solos at St. Clement’s. Father Leonard at the former, and the Rev. Mr. Menlove at the latter delivered appropriate sermons”.

This is interesting because it shows concern that our participation in the War might affect the economy. Sound familiar? Like Yass citizens of the past, we don’t know when our peril will end, but end it surely will. Let’s get behind the Christmas spirit this year and make it wonderful.

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