The following are first hand quotes from Paul Allens book 'Neath a foreign sky.' These all refer to Christmas and New Years Eve during World War One. They provide a social history of this period.
A quite xmas in Scarborough
Between January 1ST 1916 and January 1ST 1917 Scarborough and District had suffered some 471 casualties, 186 killed along with 285 men wounded, little wonder that during the Christmas of 1916 there had been little to be jolly about. An article that had appeared in 'The Scarborough Mercury' of Friday the 29TH of December 1916 plainly sums up that sombre moment in time;
'It had tried several times during the preceding week to settle down to seasonable weather for Christmas. There had been sharp frosts, and a rather heavy fall of snow, but they were only succeeded by further rain. As late as Christmas Eve a keen white frost aroused hopes of a clear crisp day to follow, but the early morning again saw the clouds open and for the most part Christmas was a day of drip, the sky clearing in the evening when again frost set in. To say that it was quiet in Scarborough would be the barest statement of fact. It was probably the quietest Christmas the town has known in the days of the present generation. The absence of so many near and dear ones left a vacant chair at many a festive board'...
Extract: New years Eve
Following the closing down of the ultimately disappointing operations at Cambrai, the people of the British Isle had had very little to celebrate. With feelings running high due to the disastrous outcome of a battle which had started so well, and in the end had cost over forty thousand casualties for precious little gain, the so called 'season of goodwill' had found few well wishers amongst a people totally sickened and fed up with a war that had had the appearance of having no end. The bad feelings circulating at this point in the conflict had been encapsulated in an article entitled 'New Year's Eve in Scarboro' which had appeared in the Scarborough Mercury of Friday the fourth of January 1918.
'Since the war broke out a steady lessening has come about in the time honoured custom of letting in the New Year in Scarborough. A similar experience is no doubt the lot of the other place throughout the country. These last two year ends have witnessed an almost total collapse of the pre war observances. As a year ago, there were no bands last night to enliven the occasion, no carol singers, and indeed but the faintest echo of the scenes that used to be associated with the occasion.
By comparison the streets were deserted and there was hardly a trace of that exuberant display of animal spirits which used make Westborough and Newborough like a fair until past midnight... A few stayed out to herald the New Year, just keeping up the continuity with the past 'till the boys come home'...