December, 1939 “It’ll be over by Christmas.”

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When Britain went to war with Germany in September 1939, it was not uncommon for the British people to hear, “It’ll all be over by Christmas,” just as it had been said that World War One would be over by Christmas, 1914.

Sadly, the war would go on through five more Christmases until May 1945, when World War II finally came to an end in Europe. As the war effort went into full swing with wartime production and increased farming, summer holidays came to an end; due to the war and blackouts, Guy Fawkes’ night had disappeared ; with food rationing, Easter eggs disappeared; but Christmas was one holiday that would not be diminshed!

An excellent way to look at the British home front during the war years is to take a look at how Christmas was celebrated between 1939-1945. In London, throughout the towns and villages, on farms and in the cities, by rich and poor, old and young, Christmas continued to be celebrated all over Britain and throughout the Empire. As soldiers were sent all over the world, Christmas became even more important holiday so a bit of continuity could be kept as a reminder of home.

Christmas would not be as rationed in 1939 as it would be in the coming war years. Much of the Christmas production has been completed prior to the start of the war, and the shelves at F. W. Woolworth’s Three Penny and Six Penny stores were full of Christmas merchandise.


“[Woolworth’s] Store staff were surprised that initially very little changed. Life carried on much the same as usual. The tinned foods department was very busy as ‘canny’ customers stocked up ‘just in case’, but at the adjacent counter shoppers chose cards, decorations and stocking fillers just as previous generations had done before them.”-

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