A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

The Town Council decided which day the Christmas holiday should be on, there had been petitions. After some deliberation they settled on Tuesday 27 December, and recommended that employers give a full day’s pay, or alternatively, a full day’s work on Saturday.

The Town Council decided which day the Christmas holiday should be on, there had been petitions. After some deliberation they settled on Tuesday 27 December, and recommended that employers give a full day’s pay, or alternatively, a full day’s work on Saturday. Some councillors argued for Saturday to be the holiday, but others pointed out that people had already made arrangements for Tuesday.

Lerwick Town Hall, 1920s. Photo by B Inkster. Ref: BI00063

This might sound a bit strange to modern ears but remember Shetland was still a quite isolated part of Britain in 1921, and working people had few holiday rights. Anyway, in 1921 Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, and Shetland was a place that had a quiet and devout Sabbath. If you wanted a celebration, you had to have it on another day.

Town Council minute, 12 December 1921

The Shetland Times, 31 December, reported how the day had gone ahead. Christmas Eve (on Monday) had seen poor weather with rain and sleet, improving towards evening. Nevertheless, the peerie guizers, children, had come out, and later on adults. It had resembled the informal guising of the old days, celebrations had become tidier and more orderly over the past few decades.

For the inmates of the County Homes, aka the Poorhouse, Christmas Eve also meant a treat, complete with Christmas tree. Sheriff Forbes, among others, made a speech, and there were gifts. Music too, W.A. Watt sang The Lum Hat Wantin a Croon, and a Mr Sutherland played a selection of Scotch Airs on the fiddle. Mr Hyslop was thanked for providing the tree.

The United Free Kirk had repeated the service they held on Sunday the 25th on the Tuesday, an excellent attendance. Still poor weather, it was a quiet day, and entertainment began at night. The Masonic Hall held a whist drive, but the Town Hall was the place to be, a Christmas Ball.

The Shetland Times reported 110 couples, and Dance music, all of most recent production, was supplied by a jazz band of 15 instruments. It was modern entertainment, probably quicksteps and foxtrots, along with a few other modern dances, not jigs and reels, no whirl and birl. It was good enough to keep everyone going until 4.30 in the morning.

No doubt some of the protagonists at the ball were back in the Town Hall on Wednesday evening. The Up Helly Aa guizers met in the burgh courtroom to choose their Jarl, and set a date. The next festival got into the planning stage.

Related Posts

A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

A historical walk to Culsetter

There is much more to Shetland than the popular places where people go: the Hams of Muckle Roe and the Sands of Breckon, for instance. ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

The New Year, 1872 and the Truck Commission

The New Year of 1872 began in a special way in Shetland. On the first of January Sheriff William Guthrie began hearings in the Queens ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

Shetland Museum and Archives awarded funding for Year of Stories

Shetland Museum and Archives is delighted to announce that it will be celebrating and showcasing many of Shetland’s untold stories ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

Kirk artefacts to be saved by Shetland Museum

The heritage of a number of important religious artefacts from some of Shetland’s churches is to be preserved for future generations ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

Accounts with Women Labourers

Thomas Hardy, probably the Victorian novelist most familiar with the grit of rural life, described the work of his agricultural ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

The Maiden

Hallowe’en at the end of October is traditionally a part of the year when macabre things are thought of and expressed. Perhaps a ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

New exhibition - to excite young readers and art lovers

A new exhibition opens this week at the Shetland Museum and Archives. 'A’ll Tell Dee a Story' is the work of local author and ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

October Holiday Events

Join us at the Shetland Museum and Archives this October holidays for an exciting programme of Halloween themed events.

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

The Tolbooth Jail

We don’t have many records that make a direct reference to a person’s personal appearance. Important people might be described, ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

A Day in Bigga

Bigga, a little island in Yellsound, 80 hectares in extent, is not easy to visit. It has been uninhabited for 200 years, largely ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

Bold new art exhibition celebrates Shetland nature

Shetland Museum and Archives is delighted to unveil a bold new art exhibition in its Gadderie space that is inspired by Shetland ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

We're hiring - Visitor Experience Assistants

Are you passionate about Shetland's culture and heritage? Do you enjoy working with the public and would you like to help create ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

Where is Shetland?

Where is Shetland?  Well, it depends who you ask.  "In the north Atlantic" is the most likely answer, but it isn't the only one, ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

Witchcraft in Shetland

Between around 1615 and 1680 Shetland was afflicted by a mania that was disturbing other parts of Europe. Ordinary Shetlanders and ...

Read more
A Lerwick Christmas One Hundred Years Ago: 1921

Beltane Festival

We're all familiar with calendar customs. Those we have in Shetland today (with one notable exception in late January!) are identical ...

Read more