EDITORIAL: This Christmas, consider how Surrey has changed over last century

Ever drive in Surrey and find yourself thinking, "Hey, when did that high-rise get there?" Things have changed so much locally, even in past months, that a time-trip back a few decades would transport you to an almost unrecognizable landscape.

As you sip your eggnog, consider how you might be spending this Christmas if you lived in Surrey say 100 years ago.

Christmas in these parts was a simple yet magical affair centred on religious celebration rather than the commercial fuss we’re bombarded with nowadays.

The Surrey of 100 years ago was a farming community, with homesteads being few and far between. The Christmas season for residents back then didn’t start on Nov. 1, as it does now, but lasted only a couple of days.

There were no Christmas tree lights, as those weren’t invented until the 1920s.

In 1900, a tree was brought into the farmhouse when the children weren’t around and it would be put in the parlour and kept behind closed doors until either Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. The adults would decorate it using cornucopias filled with nuts and real candles – the kind you can still buy today in some European delicatessens.

The tree would likely not be lit until the gifts were being opened, and sticks with wet sponges were always nearby to put out any errant flame.

Folks back then would occupy their time by relaxing at home, involving themselves in church activities like pageants and services, and visiting neighbours.

Gifts would generally serve a practical purpose – mittens, sweaters, scarves and socks were popular – but there were also some special indulgences.

A mother might give her daughter a homemade dolly and clothes for it. If the doll had hair, it would likely be real human hair. Girls also received small prams, cradles or dollhouses made by their fathers. For the boys, a wooden Noah’s Ark was a popular toy, as were penny whistles and metal toys.

However you and yours will be keeping Christmas 2014, we at the Now wish you much peace and joy.

The Now

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