"Tea and a poke (a paper bag), containing three or four buns, were served and all the paper bags were eventually blown up and burst. It was only at a so'ree that one was likely to see a Christmas tree. Until after World War II there were few, if any, in Scottish homes, churches, shops and streets."
For many years, the Lundin Mill soiree was hosted by the Misses Rigg and Miss Haymes of Aithernie. This tradition may well have begun at the time these three ladies moved to the village in 1864. They were still hosting the annual treat 20 years later. Last December I wrote a post about their 1872 soiree and this year I have the write-ups from two of their later ones to share. At Christmas 1878, the event was again held in the Lundin Mill School on Crescent Road, which was "crowded" with "the children attending the Free Church Sabbath School, along with those attending the class taught by Miss Haymes at Aithernie Lodge". The guests were then (according to the Fife Herald of 2 January 1879):
"...provided with tea, a number of recitations were given and short pieces sung by the scholars. The missionary boxes were then opened.....then followed a time of amusement with crackers, &c....After order was restored the prizes (two to each class)...were distributed to the prize winners. The whole of the scholars then each received a present, given also by the above-mentioned ladies. Before leaving each was provided with an orange and a cookie."
In 1883, the soiree was held on 26th December in the Kirkton Public School, including a class taught at Lundin Mill by Miss Thomson and another at Aithernie by Miss Haymes, there were about 100 children present. On this occasion, as well as the usual singing, food and recitations, more detail was provided in the newspaper report (Fife Herald of 2 January 1884) on the nature of the visual entertainment...
"Mr Bruce exhibited a large picture of a baby, and by three other pictures showed what afterwards this child, by living a proper life, may become, as a young man, a middle-aged, and an old man; and by three others showed what he, by living an improper life, may become, in passing through the same stages. The chief attraction of the evening was a Magic Lantern, sent by Mr Ireland, Buckhaven. It presented views illustrative of Bible History, views of Aberdeen and comic scenes."
Want to know more about Magic Lanterns? See this excellent clip on Youtube (from which the above image is taken):
And if you want to know more about the Misses Rigg and Miss Hamyes of Aithernie - watch out for the next post.