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

Helping others, especially those struggling with mental health issues, keeps MOD Pizza owner Jim Hayden cooking. (RIck Stiebel/News Staff)
A 1900s writing box found in Greater Victoria contained ink, photos and a letter addressed to Clara McCaubry dated October 14, 1898. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Hervieux)
Mysterious 1900s writing box finds a home among Saanich Archives

Wooden chest owned by early Saanich resident Clara Isabelle McCaubry

(Black Press Media file photo)
Spooky online class cooks up funds for Greater Victoria Imagination Library

United Way Greater Victoria offers how-to for witch cookies, tasty coffin as fundraiser

Murray Rankin has announced he will seek the nomination for the Oak Bay Gordon Head riding in the 2021 provincial election (which could happen in the fall of 2020). The former Minister of Parliament for the Victoria riding from 2012 to 2019.
(MurrayRankin.com)
New Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Murray Rankin says he will use his federal connections

Rankin said being part of NDP majority government gives him a strong voice

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read