On this day …….. 24th of December 1938
Australia hosts the first ever Carols by Candlelight on this day in 1938.
Carols by Candlelight is a popular Australian Christmas tradition. Communities gather together in parks or churchyards to sing carols and Christmas songs on any given evening in the lead-up to Christmas. There is often extra entertainment during these events, with skits, plays and other performers, and participants may hold candles or other electric lights to enhance the festive atmosphere. The concept of Carols by Candlelight was born in 1937 when radio veteran Norman Banks was on his way home after a late evening shift. Walking along St Kilda Road, Melbourne, he saw a woman through the window of her home, her face reflecting the soft glow of candlelight, singing to Away in a Manger as it played on the radio. The sight inspired Banks to create an event which could be enjoyed by many, and which would reflect both the reverence and the joy of Christmas. With the support of his employers and the Melbourne City Council, particularly Lord Mayor AW Coles, Banks organised a programme for the following year. The first Carols by Candlelight took place in Melbourne, Australia on Christmas Eve, 24th of December 1938. Approximately ten thousand people came together at midnight in Alexandra Gardens to sing carols, backed by a choir, two soloists and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Band. A larger production was organised the following year, and the tradition grew, continuing even through World War II. Since that time, Carols by Candlelight events have spread, continuing to be organised throughout the nation, with some sponsored by major organisations, and others quieter affairs in churches and community centres.