The Post-War Christmas

WAACChristmasCard1918Christmas History 38. Christmas 1918 was a time for thanksgiving, relief and perhaps taking stock, because the Great War had come to an end. Kaiser Wilhelm had abdicated on 9th November, and Germany had signed an armistice on 11th November. However, it must have felt like a bittersweet time, with over 700,000 British lives lost during the war, and rationing still in effect. The following article is taken from the Yorkshire Evening Post, on Christmas Eve 1918, and addresses the unusual nature of Christmas that year, with the war finally over:

Christmas is upon us; and what strange Christmas it is! We are neither at peace nor at war. Christmas, therefore, partakes somewhat of the characteristics of both. The slaughter is ended—at least we all hope so—and therefore we can bespeak a Merry Christmas for our friends without hypocrisy; but the boys are still in khaki, and they cannot all get Christmas leave; and the merriment is liable to be shorn of its glory. Still, the workaday world seems be doing its best be happy. The old Christmas spirit is abroad. Considering what we have just come through, we might have expected it to have vanished, never to return. We have suffered, but our sufferings are for the moment forgotten. The way before us dark and the outlook uncertain; yet we turn away from the doubtful prospect, content to enjoy the present. So hearts are expanding, and purses being opened, and rich and poor alike intend to make merry and be glad, so far as prudence and the Food Controller will allow. It is strange—and yet, perhaps, not strange when you come think it—that the Christmas festival, which centres in the birth of a Child, evokes in a marked degree the child spirit which lies, often dormant but still eternal, at the heart of each of us. Like children, we can give simply and enjoy simply. Is it ridiculous to connect the spirit with the fact?

The Christ-Child sat on Mary’s Knee,
His haire was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up to Him,
And all the stars looked down.

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About Roger Pocock

Author of Co-writer on Editor of
This entry was posted in 20th Century, Britain, Christmas, Christmas History, Faith, History, Inspiration, Newspapers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Post-War Christmas

  1. “Bittersweet” is a good word for it. It’s hard to get my head around what that first Christmas must have been like, given the cataclysm they had just been through. Equal parts impending doom and cautious optimism. The world would never be the same as it once was…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been spending this year reading as if I were living in 1918, and I’ve definitely encountered this sense of determination to be cheerful. Another issue I’ve come across is that, due to long lead times, monthly magazines barely had time to acknowledge in their December issue that the war was over. Ladies’ Home Journal ran a stamp, for pasting onto letters, that said, “It’s war this Christmas, but wait till next year!”

    Liked by 1 person

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