CURATOR’S CORNER: Gift giving traditions of Sooke

Many artifacts from the Sooke region have a connection to Christmas

Montana Stanley | Contributed

The practice of giving gifts at Christmas is alive and well in Sooke, and has been over time. Ceremonial gift giving can be traced back to early pagan winter-solstice celebrations. The tradition was later adopted by Christianity, gifts given to represent those given to Jesus from the Wise Men.

Today, Christmas is just one of the many occasions where gifts are exchanged and are often saved until Christmas day to open.

Many artifacts from the Sooke region have a connection to this ancient tradition. Toys have always been common gifts for children at Christmas time.

In the Sooke Region Museum’s artifact collection is a Kewpie doll, once a Christmas gift, donated by Ed and Jean Robinson.

The Kewpie doll, a brand of doll inspired by comic strip characters by Rose O’Neill, were popular in the 1920s.

The doll is a pale pink-orange colour, is shaped like a baby, has two black eyes and the distinctive Kewpie pointed hair curl, and is made of celluloid.

An early synthetic plastic, celluloid was once an everyday material, and has since been replaced with other plastics. Special care must be given to this doll in the collection, as celluloid is extremely flammable, and can explode when exposed to heat.

Another toy in our collection is a toy train given to Ardy Wickheim at the Sooke School Christmas party in 1937.

The wooden toy train engine can be rolled around on its wheels and attached with small nails to the base of the train. The train is quite faded, however, there’s some black paint evident, as well as some original red paint or stain. Small hooks at either end of the engine can be attached to other engines or cars in the train.

For adults in Sooke, a common gift has always been wine or spirits, often given at Christmas parties or, in this case, a Christmas ball.

A wine bottle from the annual Sooke RCMP Christmas Ball is a festive item in our collection. Donated to the museum by Elida Peers, the bottle features a colourful label made just for the occasion that reads: “Sooke RCMP Christmas Ball; November 29, 1996; Third Annual Vintage.”

The bottle is made of light green tinted glass and has a black band near the spout with gold-coloured grapes on it.

The Moss Cottage is home to our annual Moss Cottage Christmas event.

Matilda Gordon, or “Aunt Tilly”, who once resided at Moss Cottage, often made mincemeat tarts as gifts. Matilda’s recipe was given to the museum by Helen Yost, only daughter of Sooke pioneers William and Emma Welsh.

In our collection is a gift given to Matilda’s daughter, Alice Gordon: a book titled Mother’s Stories. On the first page is hand written in pencil: “Alice Mary Gordon, a Christmas gift from Douglas Muir, December 25, 1903.”

Douglas Muir was the youngest son of John Muir Jr. and Annie Welsh. The book was published by Worthington Co. Ltd. Broadway, N.Y. The front cover has an image of a girl in a pink coat and blue bonnet, just above a boy, dog and a baby. The book is laid out on one of the children’s beds in the Moss Cottage exhibit at the museum.

•••

Montana Stanley is the collections and exhibits manager at Sooke Region Museum and Visitor Centre.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

Victoria tattoo shops respond to sex assault allegations against male artists

Carne Tattoo and Painted Lotus Studios respond to allegations

Victoria seeks court order to enforce sheltering rules in Beacon Hill Park

People being asked to move out of environmentally sensitive areas of park

Mayor not in favour of low barrier housing at Oak Bay Lodge

Process is already in place to determine future of Oak Bay Lodge

Police watchdog reviewing Victoria police-involved crash

VicPD officer collided with another car in downtown intersection

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read