What were the Christmas holidays like in 1918 during the Spanish flu?

As the dire 2020 approaches the holiday season, the diminished enthusiasm coincides with that of 1918 during the Spanish flu pandemic when newspapers reportedly published the warning about the persistent flu pandemic on 21 December 1918. The Ohio health commissioner’s warning message reportedly said, “Beware of mistletoe,” warning people of social gathering, including any form of staff. Mostly similar to the current situation.

US Naval History and Heritage Command a sign is posted at the Philadelphia Naval Aircraft Factory
Credit: Associated Press

That pandemic, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, had shocked the United States and the winter holidays of 102 years ago were mostly marked by the pain of loss as it came after the deadliest flue surge in the fall. . December 1918 was reportedly followed by another wave after New Year’s Eve.

November 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress
Credit: Associated Press

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However, according to the New York Times report, the national conversation about private family reunions seemed to have been less loaded in 1918 than it was in 2020. This happened when millions of people around the world are exhausted with the block of months and government restrictions asking them to stay indoors.

A young girl with her sick sister in November 1918.
Credit: Associated Press

The media quoted Alexander Navarro, a medical historian at the University of Michigan and an editor of the Online Encyclopedia of Influenza as saying that hundreds of thousands of people had lost their friends and families and therefore, “there is no. there was really a lot of debate as to whether or not they should be together. ”Therefore, most people spent their holidays with“ an empty chair at the table. ”It was also the same period that World War I was nearing its end and soldiers they were finally able to return to their homes asking for a celebration.

Photo of the 1918 file made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross caring for flu patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium
Credit: Associated Press

The arrival of the soldiers also spread the flu

While the arrival of soldiers in their home country, including domestic and international flights, was one of the causes that further spread the flu, it did not stop the elated crowd from celebrating the Allied victory in person.

Armistice Day in Southern Michigan in 1918.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

On Christmas Eve 1918, the New York Times reported on the thousands of soldiers who were welcomed into the city followed by balls and parties. The 1918 report said, in an event at the 71st Regiment Armory on Park Avenue in Manhattan, “in addition to the fun and dancing there will be 300 pounds of dark chocolate made by beautiful girls and tons of pounds of iced cake, mostly made by their mothers. . “Other celebrations have been subdued and Christmas celebrations have been confined to people’s homes.

Armistice Day at Pomona College in 1918
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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