Wartime Christmas Ornaments: A Bright Idea

Christmas is in full swing in our household.  I have officially decorated my home for Christmas, most of the gifts have been purchased and wrapped, and the baking frenzy has begun.  So, in keeping with the holiday spirit, I’ve been reading about Christmas during wartime.  I was particularly interested in learning how Christmas décor changed due to shortages and rationing. 
The saga of Christmas ornaments was especially intriguing. 
I learned that many glass ornaments hanging on American Christmas trees before the outbreak of WWII were handmade by glass blowers in Germany.  (I’m sure you can see where this might be headed…)  After we entered the war in December 1941, the import of German ornaments came to a halt.  Also, many Americans dumped their German-made ornaments as an act of patriotism.  However, thanks to some ingenious American retailers (mainly Woolworth’s and Corning), who introduced the glass Christmas ball, Americans’ Christmas trees were not left bare during the war years.  In addition to the new-fangled ornaments, many Americans made their own ornaments as well.  This was quite the challenge in the midst of homefront shortages, rationing, and patriotic recycling, and, as you might imagine, resources were even scarcer in war-torn Europe. 
I came across an endearing article discussing European holiday shortages in a story about kind-hearted GI’s stationed in England in December 1945.  At that time, post-war England (and post-war everywhere for that matter) was still in the midst of great deprivation.  This particular group of servicemen was determined to throw a decent Christmas party for the children in the town where they were stationed.  However, they had trouble finding ornaments, so the men found old light bulbs, painted them, and hung them on their makeshift Christmas tree for decoration.(Posten, 2009)     
I decided to make my own light-bulb ornaments since I happened to have not one, but two burned out bulbs in my house.  The process was simple as it only required the light bulbs, paint, and a few scraps of yarn to hang the ornament. 
Here they are!

The green one didn’t turn quite 
like I had envisioned, 
but you get the idea.

The red one turned out much better.  
I added some glitter for a little extra glitz. 

Here they are together.  How festive!
Have a very Merry Christmas!
– Megan
P.S. You can read more about the GI Christmas party in Ashton-in-Makerfield, England by clicking on the link below.
Posten, B. (2009). Yankee ingenuity throws a party in wartime England. Reading Eagle, Reading: PA. Accessed from http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=180754.
No Comments

Post A Comment