18 Photos That Show What Christmas Looked Like 100 Years Ago
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but would you recognize what Christmas looked like a century ago?
Christmas with the family was a formal affair
Today, yoga pants and flannel pajamas are perfectly acceptable for Christmas Day-wear. Back in 1912, by contrast, when “The Hope of the House” was drawn by the artist, J.M. Balliol Salmon, it was far more typical for a family to dress up in their finest clothing on Christmas. Even the baby is wearing party shoes! These are the 20 best-ever Christmas songs, ranked.
A little Christmas humor
It’s a tale as old as time: grownups intercepting the toys their kids have been given as gifts. Back in 1912, the toys in question, as depicted in “Little Willie’s Toys – A Christmas Morning Tragedy,” include a wooden building set, a toy car, and a rag doll. If J.H. Thorp, the artist, were around to draw this scene today, it would, no doubt, include Legos and computer games. Cozy up with your crew to watch one of these 20 best-ever Christmas movies.
How little kids awaited Christmas
In the 1880s, which is what this painting depicts, a young girl impatiently awaits the arrival of Christmas. While that certainly happens today, what kids are consulting today isn’t the analog face of a grandfather clock but rather the NORAD Official Santa Tracker via smartphone or tablet.
An image of a “toymaker”
This illustration by Will Houghton is how people in 1914 imagined toymakers did their jobs. While there might still be a few toymakers out there who do it all by hand these days, most toys are made in giant factories, and often not even in this country. But not the toys in this collection of 100 amazing things made in America.
The reality of World War I
World War I began in July 1914, and it changed everything about Christmas that year (and for years after). Here, a wounded soldier and his family attend Christmas Mass in their parish church. Check out these 20 cool everyday things that were invented during, and because of, World War I.
Ah, who doesn’t love photos of members of the royal family? But the royal family of a century ago was depicted quite a bit differently than the way the royal family is today. For example, in this 1914 photo of Princess Mary, the third child and only daughter of King George V and his wife, Queen Mary, is wearing a fancy dress and holding a Victorian-style fan. This striking photo was used to appeal for donations to send Christmas presents to the soldiers and sailors fighting abroad. Don’t miss these 23 other rarely seen photos of the British royal family throughout the years.
The photo decorating this Christmas Card from 1916 depicts Allied forces stationed at Thessaloniki, Greece. The soldiers in the photo include at soldiers from Britain, Greece, India, and Vietnam, among others.
Absent dads, cigarettes, and sweets
Who is missing from this 1916 depiction of Christmas morning in America? Daddy. That’s because he’s fighting in World War I. But while absent, he’s not forgotten. Here the finely attired mother and her four children wrap a special package they’re sending to their soldier dad on the front lines. You know what the package will include? Cigarettes and a pipe. No one is confusing this photo with one from today! We suggest one of these 40 cool tech gifts instead.
The home front
War was on everyone’s mind at Christmastime in 1916. While kids have been playing with toy soldiers since time immemorial, here the children are playing an elaborate game meant to look like the “Great War” (what people used to call World War I before the reality of its horrors registered). Find out the most popular toy the year you were born.
Today, we call him Santa Claus, and he doesn’t resemble an evil, long-bearded, long-robe-wearing wizard with a sack that looks like it would be perfect for abducting young children. But back in 1917, “Father Christmas,” as he was called, was the giver of gifts, and didn’t seem too scary at all. Find out 14 charming Christmas traditions from around the world you’ll want to steal for your own family.