Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mistletoe, Holly wreaths and Christmas trees

In the course of researching some events during and after WW2 I came across an interesting family 'Christmas story' in the West Cumbrian local newspaper 'The Whitehaven News' from Thursday 19 December 1946. This was about the local supply situation of Christmas trees, mistletoe and holly. Many servicemen had only returned to civilian life during 1946. For many families this was the first time in many years they would all "... be home for Christmas" but it seems there was a shortage of many of the basic decorations people wanted for their homes.

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Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

According to the 1946 newspaper article the Lake District (which is wholly in present-day Cumbria) is described as being "... the English home of Christmas trees". However, even the local shops in Cumbria in 1946 smaller trees (three to four feet high) for use in homes were in short supply and were having to be imported from southern England. Where Christmas trees were available, prices ranged from 1/- to 2/6d per foot of tree (i.e. one shilling to two shillings and sixpence). There was better news regarding supplies of larger Christmas trees which it says were in plentiful supply in the Lake District and being exported.

Unfortunately for young (and old) people in love the newspaper article also refers to mistletoe being "... very scarce and very expensive in the Lake District". The wholesale price was 4d per ounce. As the song might have said, Mummy was going to find it difficult to kiss Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe at night (at least in 1946)! There was better news about holly: it was said to be plentiful and "... very well berried". The wholesale price was 25 shillings per hundredweight. Among the dealers who had travelled to the Lake District for their seasonal supply of holly were some from central and South Lancashire. Holly could be used for wreaths, either to place on the outside of the front door or to place on the graves of loved ones in the local cemetery. Holly is still used to make wreaths at Christmastime to this day and, in Cumbria at least, are still placed on graves of loved ones just before Christmas each year.

So that was Christmas in 1946. How much was it different to the Christmas times between 1939 and 1945? Other contributors to this forum will have their own memories of what they feel was different for them, and what was much the same.

Sunday, 17 December, 2006  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Your Christmas sounds much like the ones I remember from my own childhood in the 1960s. The Arthur Mee "Children's Encyclopedia" edition we had was really bought for my older sister, but I made good use of it as well. I still have it AND look through some of the the volumes occasionally.

For those in the Forces, I have heard it is the one day in the year that officers serve up lunch for the ORs. At Christmas 1914 some of my relatives were in the trenches on the Western Front when they met with the Germans in "No Man's Land". Sadly, it did not lead to a peace settlement and look what happened between then and 1918.

Anyway, all the best to you Frank and all the other contributors.

Thursday, 21 December, 2006  

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