Christmas is a time we usually think
of as time spent with family and friends, with lots of good food,
Father Christmas, presents to give and receive, decorations, and
for Christians, perhaps a visit to church.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to spend Christmas
miles away from home,
as an evacuee, sent
away from bombs falling on your home, friends and family? Or, to be
at home, but with absent family members? Air raid shelters or
underground railway stations were used to help provide safety for
families to avoid the bombs, so Christmas could also be spent
Before the War one third of our supplies came to us by sea, but as
German submarines sank our merchant ships, our nation became short
of food. Therefore the Government rationed the food, using coupons.
Rationing had made a big difference to everyone?s meals, but the
expectations of Christmas was an extra challenge.
to be very creative with recipes!
Meat was rationed by price, and as it was an expensive commodity,
the amount available was reduced. For example, a family of four
using this form of rationing the small chicken the family was
entitled to was insufficient. Government recipes gave different
types of stuffing to help make the meat go further. Home reared
chickens and rabbits were popular, but upsetting if these animals
had been the family pet.
CHRISTMAS CAKE, PUDDINGS AND MINCE PIES
Blackberries instead of currents and cocoa powder or syrup with
gravy powder gave a dark, rich colour. For icing and marzipan, a
mixture of Haricot beans, sugar, rice, and almond essence with a
tablespoon of margarine was used as a replacement for scarce
A cream replacement was a mixture of margarine, milk and
Most presents were home-made, such as sweets, hand knitted or
wooden items. There were no charity shops as we know them today but
family, friends and neighbours often passed on toys and other items
for recycling as useful presents. Christmas gifts were also donated
from other countries and charities.
CARDS AND DECORATIONS
These were carefully used each year and were often made from very
poor quality paper and had to be fairly small as paper was also in
Because of the black-out, the Church windows were unlit and the
bells were silent as they were being used as neighbourhood bomb
Have you any family members or friends you could ask to tell you
what it was like for them at Christmas in WW2? Write and explain what you found out.
Did you have any family members that fought in WW2? Perhaps they
could tell you what Christmas was like for them. Write and explain what you found out.
Write a poem about what you imagine Christmas felt like during
WW2 for someone of your age.
Well done to Eleanor Parkyn who won
the FFHS competition. Here she is with Nick Barratt:
How can you join the Acorn Club?
If you are interested in your family history, particularly in
Devon, you are automatically a member of the Acorn Club.
If you have anything you want to add to the Acorn Club page, like
stories, puzzles or things you have found out to do with your
family history, then email
Welcome to the exciting world of family history. This is a
special kind of history because it is all about you. Only your
brothers and sisters will have exactly the same story to tell.
Family history is discovering the names of your ancestors but
it is much more too. You can find out about the jobs they did, the
places they lived in and what their lives would have been
Searching for your family history is a bit like being a
detective. You have to search for clues in many different places to
try and find out what you want to know. You have to be careful
because sometimes the clues turn out to be red herrings.
It is also rather like doing a jigsaw, except with family
history, there are always some pieces missing. Some of the clues
may well be in your own house, or in the houses of your
grandparents or your aunts and uncles.
I shall be showing you some of the clues that I have found for
my own family history and you can see if your families have
anything like this.
Any Family History Questions or Hints for other Acorn Club
Members? See our members' page