Thursday 7 December 2023

Christmas Past: Yule in the Winter of Discontent

That room is intended to show a what an ordinary London home might have looked like in 1978 - the Winter of Discontent - with icy weather and powercuts. It's part of the Rooms Through Time: Winter Past exhibition at the Museum of the Home in East London. Every year they decorate their regular displays of domestic rooms through history appropriately for the winter festivities of those eras. 

It isn't the exactly same display every year as the museum rings the changes in the aspects they show. When I last went there the 1970s room was bright and cheerful and gave me a dash of nostalgia for the Christmases of my youth. 

Personally, I didn't have a miserable winter in 1978. It came at the end of my first year at university. It was cold, but I mostly recall I partied hard in the student house before the end of term. I don't remember any power cuts on December 25th itself but maybe I slept through one as I did catch up on sleep back at my parents' home. Looking through old family photos of that era I did find one picture of a Christmas Eve meal from the 1970s lit only by candles. I'm not sure if it was just for atmosphere or if there had been a power cut. I'm not in the picture but that's probably because I was behind the camera.

Do you want to share any memories of Christmases past?  Please leave a comment.

On Tuesday 12 December I've giving an online talk on Magic for the Yuletide through The Last Tuesday Society and I'll be talking about some Christmases past as well as looking at midwinter folklore and customs. The event starts at 7.30pm and tickets ·are from £5.82. You can find more details and book here:

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Sarah said...

Interesting museum display. I certainly recall the loud patterns & colours of the late 70’s , but I don’t recall the dollies or antimacassars on the back of chairs.

Anonymous said...

that's a whole lot of antimacassars. The dolls would probably be scattered on the floor if somebody had been playing with them. Yes, that's a rotary phone, but in the living room? Most important, where's the TV?!

PeterAtJET said...

sorry, didn't login, Peter

Julie W said...

My 70s childhood memories are of sleeping on the floor in my parent's room next to the radiator in my beloved red slippery nylon sleeping bag (it was gorgeously warm- my brother was sometimes next to the wardrobes) as various grandparents/guests stayed in our room(s). We had a new build 1970s Winpy house which was fairly well made and snug. I do recall non Xmas powercuts, and learning to use a little paraffin lamp (my brother was too young to be trusted), torches and dad being technical rigged a spare car battery to provide a little light in the kitchen and lounge (with stern instructions to us all not to go near it to avoid shocks!). Mum made casseroles during the day when there was power or gas (sometimes the gas stayed on, sometimes not, as there was a local gasometer, that interfered with the telly signal!).

Anonymous said...

Could have had a massacre on antimacassars at my nan's house. I was a little too young to have memories of the winter of discontent.