How Britain Celebrated Christmas During The Second World War Six years of war brought many changes to familiar festive rituals. Christmas celebrations during the Second World War often had to be scaled down or adjusted as restrictions and shortages took their toll. For many families, the most difficult part of a wartime Christmas would be spending the festive season apart from loved ones. Many men were fighting abroad in the armed forces or were being held as prisoners of war. Women might also be away in the services or carrying out war work. Many children spent Christmas away from home as evacuees. By the end of the war, thousands of families had suffered the death of a family member either in action or from enemy bombing raids. Christmas luxuries were especially hard to come by at a time when even basic foods were scarce. People were forced to find substitutes for key festive ingredients. Gifts were often homemade and practical, and children’s toys were often made from recycled materials. Cards were smaller and printed on flimsy paper. In 1941, to conserve paper, the Ministry of Supply decreed that 'no retailer shall provide any paper for the packing or wrapping of goods excepting food stuffs or articles which the shopkeeper has agreed to deliver'. This made it difficult to keep Christmas presents a surprise. As in peacetime, singing songs and carols were rituals of wartime Christmases, along with the performance of pantomimes and festive plays. The BBC also broadcast a special Christmas Day radio programme. From 1939 onwards this featured a Christmas speech by King George VI, and became so popular with listeners that it became an annual ritual.... [article continues] https://media.iwm.org.uk/ciim5/44/5...5.1036484946.1545604972-1089507274.1545604972 © IWM (D 23619) A group of young children at Fen Ditton Junior School design and make their own Christmas decorations. One boy is making a paper chain. Behind them in the classroom can be seen other children hard at work. In the background, the teacher is helping one of the pupils with their painting.