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On the home front. Christmas in the 1940s was lean because of the war - Tri-County Times: Tri-County Times Newspaper: Fenton, Linden And Holly MI News Source

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On the home front. Christmas in the 1940s was lean because of the war

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Posted: Monday, November 20, 2017 9:28 am

 Did you know that the tradition of shopping early for Christmas began in the 1940s, during the midst of World War II?

 Some people believe that the holiday shopping season that now begins well before Christmas actually began during the war because it took so long for packages to reach our troops. Merchants began encouraging people to shop early for the season to make sure the packages would arrive in time.

 The way Christmas was celebrated back then was different than it is today.

 According to 1940s.org, decorating for Christmas involved the idea of simplicity, mostly out of necessity.

 While the men were off fighting World War II, moms at home would try to make things as normal as they could for their children, and would often encourage their children to write Christmas cards, and to make their fathers feel as though he was still part of the festivities.

 Mom and kids would make large care packages to send to their dad. Inside these care packages would be cards, candies, cookies, pictures, and other treats to really try to bring the Christmas spirit to their men.

 Whether it is today or back then, the holidays are a time for families to gather and show their love for one another by spending time together to decorate a tree, share a meal, and give each other heartfelt gifts.

1940s Yuletide Facts:

 During World War II, Christmas trees were in short supply because of a lack of manpower (to cut the trees down) and a shortage of railroad space to ship the trees to market. Americans rushed to buy American-made Visca artificial trees.

 In 1941, a 5-foot Christmas tree could be purchased for 75 cents.

 The shortage of materials, such as aluminum and tin, used to produce ornaments, led many people to make their own ornaments at home.

 Magazines contained patterns for ornaments made out of non-priority war materials, like paper, string, and natural objects, such as pinecones or nuts.

 Electric bubble lights were created during the 1940s and remain popular even today.

 To give their Christmas tree a snow-covered effect, people mixed a box of Lux soap powder with two cups of water and brushed the concoction on the branches of their tree.

 Fewer men at home resulted in fewer men available to dress up to play Santa Claus. Women served as substitute Santas at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City and at other department stores throughout the United States.

 “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “White Christmas” were both written during the 1940s and quickly gained popularity with the war-weary, but optimistic, population.

 Travel during the holidays was limited for most families due to the rationing of tires and gasoline. Americans saved up their food ration stamps to provide extra food for a fine holiday meal.

 Because they represented the enemy, many Americans threw their German blown-glass ornaments and exotic Japanese ornaments in the trash as soon as the war began.

 Shortly after the war, Corning Glass Company in New York began mass-producing Christmas tree balls using machines designed to produce light bulbs. Corning could make more ornaments in a single minute than a German cottage glass blower could make in a whole day.


 Not too much has changed over the years as far as Christmas traditions are concerned. The reason for the season has not changed and never will, so the gathering of families and friends, worship at local churches and celebrating with wonderful feasts has continued throughout the decades.

 Christmas decorations are what people make of them. Some elect to deck their halls by going all out and buying everything they need and like from local merchants. Others still prefer the DIY approach, making everything from gifts, to cards, to table settings and household holiday decorations. Many households still adorn their trees with handmade cranberry or popcorn garlands.

 Whatever you decide to do, ‘tis the season to be jolly, so do whatever your heart desires this Christmas season. And if you can, shop local … it’s their holiday season, too.

Source: The National WWII Museum


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