Faith was an important part of family life for many Victorians in the past. Christianity was the dominant religion until the late-twentieth century, although Judaism, Islam and Buddhism also have a long history in our community. More recently, Victoria’s multicultural society has seen greater diversity, with a wide variety of rituals celebrated by communities of faith.

Church attendance was an important weekly ritual for many families in the past and the church was often the catalyst for other social activity. Until at least the 1960s the Christian community was deeply divided between Catholics and Protestants. This division permeated all aspects of family and social life, from schooling and socializing to marriage. Families of both denominations often opposed so-called ‘mixed marriages’, although this is rarely important now.

Families of all faiths have used objects to express their beliefs and to instruct their children. Christian families often prized the family Bible. Sometimes it was the only book a family owned, and it was often used to record family milestones — births, deaths, and marriages. Many family rituals and celebrations have followed a religious calendar — Christmas and

Easter, Passover, Ramadan, New Year, Diwali and others. Each of these involved special objects with symbolic significance. For immigrant families in particular, such festivals and ceremonies help to preserve links with each other and with their past.