Snippets 176. One hundred years ago today, when people wished each other a “Happy New Year” it was a wish for a year of peace, after the Great War that had been waged since 1914 had finally come to an end. The Pall Mall Gazette put into words the significance of the day for Londoners, and described some of the celebrations that were due to take place. The following quote is from the Tuesday 31st December 1918 issue, exactly 100 years ago.
“A Happy New Year, with all the boys back.”
That was the greeting of this eve of the wonderful year which is to mark the advent of peace.
In the Strand, in Picadilly, in Regent Street, in all clubland; and in the home of Mayfair and Suburbia alike the customary felicitations of the season always included the gladness of the homecoming of the men who have paved the way for peace.
Everywhere there are indications that London for the first time since the dawn of 1914, intends to greet the coming year socially, if not privately, with all the care free irresponsibility of the olden days.
At the big West End hotels, where special entertainments have been arranged, thousands of applicants for the tables were to-day disappointed. At the Savoy no fewer than 10,000 applications for places at the dinner have had to be refused, as the accommodation provides only for the seating of 2,000 guests who wisely booked seats weeks ago.
At the Ritz a very delightful programme has been arranged. In utter darkness the last few moments of the Old Year will be spent. Suddenly silver bells will ring out the twelve strokes of midnight; a fanfare of silver trumpets will herald the incoming of the Year of Peace, and just as the lights are turned on, the orchestra will play the opening bars of “Auld Lang Syne”.
A Peace Symbol
The Palm Court at Carlton, where 500 guests are to be entertained, has been converted into a magic land of evergreens, symbolic of the permanence of the peace that 1919 is to bring us. Thousands of fairy lights of many colours will suddenly come aglow as the great year dawns. Claridge’s the Berkley, Princes’, the Strand Palace, and the First Avenue Hotel have also arranged delightful entertainments…
To the year 1919! In every corner, in every side street of the Metropolis the gladness of its incoming will be brought home to us very delightfully by some hundreds of the gallant little gentlemen who in the mirky nights of 1917 and 1918 rode through our shrapnel-swept streets to give us tidings that danger from airmen enemies was past.
“All clear!” was the signal they gave, us after those nights of death.
“All clear!” is the signal they will give us when at midnight we turn to the year of peace.
If you enjoyed this “snippet” please consider sharing on Facebook or Twitter, to help other people find and enjoy Windows into History. You can keep updated each time I post a new entry by clicking on the follow button on the right of the screen. I welcome any comments or suggestions, and will consider guest posts.