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Cape and Natal News

Cape and Natal News 1864

Cape and Natal News 14 March 1863


A CHRISTMAS MARKET—At Colesberg at Christmas there were upon the market, in the way of vegetables, only one bucket of potatoes, two buckets of green peas, and a few onions.
The potatoes seemed likely to create a riot, and, after great altercation, were divided into three lots, and realised £1. 2s.10d. In some places flour or bread cannot be obtained, and rice is the staple diet .

Christmas was celebrated at Sir Walter Currie's mansion, where a dress ball was given to the military officers and other guests .The gay uniforms of the military, the airy costumes of the ladies, the sombre black of the civilians, formed an agreeable scene, and the Volunteer band (the only remnant of the Rifle Volunteers) gave great satisfaction.

Cape and Natal News 5 March 1864


We have our own way of spending our holidays, and know how to keep up our spirits (writes "The Lounger," in the " Town Talk" of a Cape Town journal) We retain many of the customs of the old country. We do not forget nor neglect the religious origin and character of the festival. The Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics go to churches decorated in such a style as churches cannot be decorated in countries where the snow covers up all the treasures of Nature. Look at those garlands, festoons and wreathes of brightest, freshest green, interwoven with brilliant flowers of every hue. Look at those stars, crosses, and other appropriate devices, composed of everlasting flowers. You have no such things in the country .

The Dutch, though they do not decorate their churches, attend them in crowds; for strict Calvinists though they be in most matters of doctrine, Christmas Day is to them one of the most solemn and sacred in the year. Coming from church—not through snow crunching under our feet, but if in town through hot, dusty, sweltering streets if in the old country, through shady lanes, with the perfume of orange blossom and a thousand other flowers wafted to us on a welcome breeze from orchards gardens, and cornfields-we go home and sit down to our hot heavy orthodox Christmas dinners of roast beef and plum-pudding, with the thermometer standing at 90 or 100 degrees in the shade. But we do not sit long over our wine and walnuts. For as the evening comes on the rooms, cool during the day, become oppressively hot. No
closed windows or shutters here now. Every door and window is thrown open to admit the slightest breeze. But still it gets hotter within doors.

We go out under the trees, among the flowers, and there spend our Christmas evening. As the day closes, a full, round, summer moon with a rich rosy blush, caught from the sun which has just set in a blaze of colour in the western waves, rises over the far distant mountains, flooding the landscape with such a glorious sheen as never you saw in northern climes. No, sirs you never saw such a Christmas Day and evening as we had here last year. Our climate is renowned-fine days and finer evenings are not scarce with us; but even we were in raptures. We did not envy you your snowy fields and frosted trees, your cosy rooms and roaring fires. Out in open air, in the clear moonlight, we gathered in happy groups, and there told our Christmas tales, played our Christmas games, and sang our Christmas songs And there we drank your health's, and thought of you fondly and affectionately; did not envy you; did not wish that we were with you, but that you were with us, to see how we spend our Christmas in this sunny southern
clime. And we are fonder of Christmas and New Year than you are, so fond of them that we are not content with one day, but have a second Christmas Day, and a second New Year’s day.

On all these four days, the last two especially, Capetown streets – the business ones at any rate-were completely deserted. Not a workhouse, office, or shop was open. No work of any kind whatever was done. Even the newspaper proprietors sent their papers to press some thirty-six hours before they were published, in order to give their printers two full holidays. New Year's Day and the following day are greater holidays with the old Cape settlers than the Christmas days. And they were never more thoroughly enjoyed than they were this year. The weather continued as fine as it had been at Christmas, and picnic parties were the general order of the day with all classes. The trains took thousands of passengers out to all the stations between this and Wellington, the tramway cars were filled with those who wished to picnic on the rocks at Seapoint; omnibuses and carts plying from earliest morn took hundreds to cool retreats at Mowbray, Rondebosch, Newlands, Wynberg, and Constantia; the woods skirting Table Mountain, and those clothing the sides of the picturesque little valley which runs down into Camp's Bay, were alive with people. No, sirs, you in the old country don't know what a New Year's Day picnic party is.

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