A 1940s Wartime Christmas


It seems fitting that after a year of many struggles and a year of living on WWII wartime rations, that we should end the year on a proper “1940s Wartime Christmas”…

While one cannot even comprehend the hardship faced by those living through this time period, Christmas was always a day to look forward to, a day for the children, a day of celebration, despite food shortages and loved ones far, far away.

Children decorating a christmas tree, on the underground, during an air raid

I feel in our modern age, young families, who can ill afford vast sums of money, are pressurized to provide gifts, to children and immediate family members, that place intolerable financial burdens and stresses in the post- Christmas period. Living in a consumer society, we can be deemed odd or our children pitied for parents NOT complying to what is perceived to be the 21st century NORM.

Where have those good old-fashioned Christmases gone where it was less about the gifts and more about being together as a family, having fun, showing our love, a time where our children left a note for Santa and asked for one simple toy, something they would hold on to and treasure?

Christmas on the underground in Great Britain

To me Christmas is about spending a day being happy, being grateful, feeling loved and wanted, warm and cosy and smiling.

So on Christmas Day 2012, my family and I are transporting ourselves back to Christmas Day 1940, the first Christmas on wartime rations, to enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas full of nostalgia, devoid of excess (ours are normally anyway)and full of hope and joy.

We’ll make our decorations, we’ll have a short tree, the children will have a small chicken and a slice of ham, we’ll make a wartime ration book christmas pudding and christmas cake, play 1940s music, lay the table with 1940s tableware, listen to Christmas speeches and open a bottle of Emva Cream Sherry and get rosy cheeked after playing some party games..

I’m rather excited by it all and I’m putting away some of my rations to ensure we have enough goodies to have a really nice day..

C xxxx

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17 thoughts on “A 1940s Wartime Christmas

  1. It is so good that you will be applying true values to your Christmas. No doubt in a few weeks time I will be going around Tesco’s and hearing children saying, I want this and I want that. Rarely do you see the joy anymore in Christmas shopping. I notice the tight harrassed faces of mums and dads struggling with trying to buy the most expensive toys and eletronic gadgets. I remember when my son was young and even though I was a single parent feeling the pressure to buy lots of toys, otherwise I was somehow lacking as a parent. The irony was, that my son would often play with the boxes that ‘things’ came in….! If I could have my time again I would do things Soooo differently. It would be so good to return to the Christmas of past years when you were thrilled to have a nut, orange and small usually hand made toy. Best wishes Rosemary

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    • I actually feel so strongly and feel so worried about people pushing themselves to breaking point to get gifts for their kids. While it is so awesome to see our children smile, is it worth it? I guess a lot would say yes as you can’t put a price on a child’s happiness but it’s also the child’s expectations these days that worry me… xxxxxxxx

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  2. That sounds absolutely wonderful! and as Rosemary above said ”It would be so good to return to the Christmas of past years” I am also rationing and trying to make do and mend as much as possible and I am really looking forward to Christmas – doing without all the treats all year, really makes you appreciate Christmas.
    My sister gave me a treat size bag of raisins she got from her macdonalds’ kiddies meal, and rolled on the floor laughing at how excited I was! I kept them for two weeks deciding what to do with them….. I finally put them into a ginger cake! I was thrilled heeheehee!
    You have inspired so many and have done so well x x

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    • I totally agree. When my ex husband left a week or so after Christmas in 2009, I decided, that because of economical challenges one inevitably faces and the fact that I just feel AWFUL spending money when some people don’t even have bloody food.. we’d have frugal Christmases, they would be nice and we’d have treats but there would be no expensive gift giving and we’d have to keep within an affordable budget http://blogs.southshorenow.ca/carolyn/?p=688

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  3. A great post, and thankyou for the immensely touching video. Yes, it is possible to keep Christmas the old-fashioned way, making memories that last a lifetime. I have observed what Rosemary above mentions – the lack of joy despite all the material “stuff” bought and given. I like to use descriptions of Christmas in very old books as inspiration – Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Tree”, and the Christmas chapter in “What Katy Did”, for example.
    By the way, Carolyn, have you ever read “Mrs Milburn’s Diaries”? – an Englishwoman’s record of the years 1939-1945. I’ve read our public library’s copy many many times; I see it was reprinted in paperback in 2000. She gives most interesting details on her housekeeping amid the progress of the war; how she kept Christmas using carefully-saved small luxuries from previous years – I find it fascinating.
    Every good wish from NZ xx

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  4. Omg I am actually working on some ideas now on how to have a 1940s Christmas. I am purchasing a book on how to make decorations and such from the 40s, etc…..I am so glad someone thought of doing it as well! I love it! Yeah!!! In our family (hubby,myself, and kids) we only give the children gifts twice a yr-bday and xmas. I dont believe in all the excess of today. And to top it off I live in NY where there is a great deal of pressure to HAVE and HAVE and HAVE. So I was thinking of making this xmas a little extra special by bringing the 1940s into it. I may not be able to go as all out as you but baby steps right???

    This is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!! xox

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    • AWESOME!!!! Will you be sharing what you are doing on your blog too? If so I’ll make sure to keep checking!! It seems there are a few people bringing back the 1940s this year which is simply wonderful because we can all compare and enthuse together πŸ™‚ xxxx

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  5. Aah! Now you are talking. Reminds me of Christmas with Mum. We had a routine – Aunty came to stay as her son worked over Christmas, Mum was cooking for weeks beforehand then on the day it was all hands! We started with a ginger wine and got on with our jobs (mine was laying the table of course). We had all left our half drunk glasses on the coffee table which was unfortunately low enough for the dog to reach. When we got back to collect our glasses we found 4 empty glasses and a very unsteady corgi. Oh dear!

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  6. When my son was little and I was a single parent I used to buy him one main present that only cost Β£30 and then lots of little ones. The main one was usually second hand too. Now I have a partner to share the expenses with my son receives much more expensive Christmas presents. Yet, they don’t seem to make him as happy. Of course, that could just be because he is now a surly fifteen-going-on-sixteen!

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  7. Hi
    I am a Southampton author who has been commisioned to write a book about the 1940s, from a childs viewpoint. Naturally this includes the Seccond World War. I am looking for photographs to illustate this and wonder if I can gain permission to use the ones from this page of children decorating a christmas tree on the London underground platform. I will be very grateful if yopu will get back to me on this please.

    Thank you

    James Marsh

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