How did the 1970s imagine Christmas in the 21st century?S

In this amusing excerpt from the Dr Who Annual 1974, the reader is flung to the faraway future of 2003, where our ovens are all computers and everyone gets a spaceship ride for Xmas.

Even with all the super-automated, mass-produced, computer-controlled technology we are evolving every day there is still no reason why our age-old traditions should ever disappear.

And so Christmas in the year 2003 might not be that much different from the festival we all enjoy today. But though the celebrations may mean the same, and the traditions may still go on, some things will probably have changed….

Christmas Cooking by Computer
For instance it might well be that everyone's Christmas dinner will be cooked with the help of a home computer. This will be good news for the housewife – all she will have to do will be to set the dials and sit back until the meal is cooked. The computer will make sure that the correct temperatures are maintained, and when the food is done to a turn it will switch off the heat.

This heat could be microwave, as is used in some restaurants today, or it might be the new ‘cold heat', which uses infra-red rays, radiating from a series of tubes. This ‘cold heat', which is called ‘cold' because it does not glow red or appear to be hot at all when you look at it, will be used for grilling.

A Plastic Pine
The traditional decorated tree is very unlikely to be a real tree, but will probably be a plastic one, just as some homes already have today. But to make it seem like the traditional Christmas festival, the plastic tree will probably be impregnated with the smell of pine.

If pollution and the effects of the population explosion go on at the present rate, there will probably be very few trees left in the world, and any forests which do still exist will be protected by stringent laws.

How did the 1970s imagine Christmas in the 21st century?Cards and Presents
Christmas cards might well be a thing of the past by 2003.

Already people can speak on the telephone to friends and relations thousands of miles away, and by 2003 you might even be able to see the person you are talking to, if the videophone comes into common use.

Christmas messages might possibly also be sent on recording tape, and as this could well be the thickness of a human hair, such a tape would fit neatly into a small envelope.

There are two theories about the kind of Christmas presents you might expect in 2003, and no one can say exactly which of them is correct.

Because of the incredible advances in automation, machines might well be doing most of the work in our factories and offices, and so everyone might have much more leisure time. Many people believe that this will lead to a revival of handicrafts of all kinds, both because everyone will have more time for the craftsmanship involved and also because of the sheer unattractiveness of many mass-produced goods.

So, if that theory is correct, Christmas presents in the year 2003 would probably be hand-made garments, handbound books, and beautifully-made objects in such materials as silver, gold, porcelain and fine china.

The opposing theory argues that these handicrafts are being widely forgotten, and that there are fewer and fewer craftsmen, so that interest in handicrafts might eventually die completely. If that happens, your 2003 Christmas present is more likely to be something like a miniature pocket computer, or maybe a ticket for a day trip in orbit round the Earth!

So there you are. Those are some of the theories and ideas about what Christmas might be like in the 21st century. All the experts have spent a lot of time, and done a lot of research, trying to predict exactly how we will be living in future years.

But for all the knowledge and science that we have all anyone can do is predict. No one knows exactly what daily life will be like in the next century.

But let's hope that all that's best about our traditional Christmas will stay, and that it will still be the same festival of happiness and goodwill that it is today.

Thank you to Amanda Uren and Leon Stringer.

This post originally appeared on How To Be A Retronaut.