Carols by Candlelight: Australian Christmas Tradition Rooted in Miners

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Carols by Candlelight: Australian Christmas Tradition Rooted in Miners
Carols by Candlelight: Australian Christmas Tradition Rooted in Miners

jfid – If you visit Australia on Christmas Eve, you may see many people gathering in parks, holding candles, and singing Christmas carols together.

This is Carols by Candlelight, an Australian Christmas tradition that has been ongoing for over 80 years.

However, did you know that this tradition originated from miners hailing from Cornwall, England?

Carols by Candlelight was first conceived by Norman Banks, a radio broadcaster in Melbourne, in 1938. At that time, he was inspired by an elderly woman he saw singing “Away in a Manger” while lighting candles in her room.

He wondered how many people celebrated Christmas alone, and what if he could gather a large group to sing Christmas carols together with candlelight?

However, before Banks, the tradition of singing Christmas carols with candles already existed among miners who migrated from Cornwall to Australia in the mid-19th century.

These miners brought their rich religious heritage, including the tradition of singing carols during the Christmas season.

Faith was crucial for these miners, especially as they experienced a spiritual revival, documented in history as the Moonta Revival of 1875.

Moonta was a town in South Australia, which became the largest copper mining center in Australia in the 19th century. There, Cornwall miners, referred to as “Cousin Jacks,” lived with their families and communities.

They celebrated their faith by singing carols in the open air, often accompanied by the warm glow of candles. With four or more children per family, each father had many additional voices to add to the family choir.

One carol originating from Cornwall, possibly sung by Moonta miners at the first Carols by Candlelight in Australia on Christmas Eve in the late 19th century, is “The First Noel.”

This tradition gradually spread beyond the mining community, captivating the hearts of people across various regions in Australia.

The warm Australian weather is also ideal for outdoor Christmas celebrations, a feat not possible in the northern hemisphere experiencing harsh winter conditions.

Since 1938, Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne has become a well-organized event broadcast live on radio. The event was later moved to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, a permanent concert venue, in 1959.

It has also become a highly anticipated television event for families across Australia each year, featuring performances by famous artists and choirs accompanied by symphony orchestras.

Funds raised through donations, ticket sales, and candle purchases are donated to Vision Australia, an organization assisting individuals with vision impairments.

Carols by Candlelight is not exclusive to Melbourne but also takes place in other Australian cities such as Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, and Darwin. Furthermore, this tradition has spread to other countries like New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.

Carols by Candlelight has become one of the ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the essence of Christmas. If there’s one thing understood by children, it’s a birthday. Jesus’ birthday is no exception.

Carols by Candlelight is an Australian Christmas tradition rooted in Cornwall miners, expressing their faith and joy by singing carols with candlelight.

This tradition has evolved into an event involving many people, both within and outside Australia, who want to experience warmth and togetherness on Christmas Eve.

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