Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Firsts #17 : Carols by Candlelight

Carols by Candlelight is an Australian Christmas tradition which has spread across the world. It is thought that the FIRST Carols by Candlelight might have been held sometime in the 19th century. However, in 1938, the Melbourne Carols by Candlelight, established and popularised the concept of large crowds gathering in public outdoor places to sing carols by candlelight, led by celebrity live performances and a live band. Today, the largest such event  in Australia is held annually at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne's King's Domain Gardens on Christmas Eve . 

This Victorian event was introduced in 1937 by Norman Banks, a radio announcer.  Whilst walking home from his night-time radio shift on Christmas Eve in 1937, he passed a window and saw inside an elderly woman sitting up in bed, listening to Away in a Manger being played on the radio and singing along, with her face being lit by candlelight. Wondering how many others spent Christmas alone, he had the idea to gather a large group of people to all sing Christmas carols together by candlelight. The first ever such event was held in Alexandra Gardens the following Christmas, 1938, and was attended by around 10,000 people.
Christmas Carols at Cardiff South Public School 

Now of course, candles have in most places been substituted by battery operated lights and glow sticks, but this year, Carols by Candlelight  will not only bring joy on Christmas Eve to a live and TV audience but will raise funds for Vision Australia for the 80th year.  All over the country, smaller versions of Carols by Candlelight will delight as well as raising funds for charity. 

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