Christmas in the grip of the Spanish Flu: As shops removed blackout curtains for the first time in four years in 1918, war-weary Britons faced the difficult decision over whether to see family during global pandemic that killed 50million

After spending three Christmases with little to celebrate during World World One, in 1918 the British people found themselves enduring a festive season under the constraints of a deadly pandemic, as could be compared to the world’s current covid-19 crisis.

The Spanish Flu pandemic, which lasted from February 1918 to April 1920, infected a third of the world’s population, around 500 million people and killed 50 million of them – 228,000 in Britain.

On December 21 1918 – around this time 102 years ago – the weekly number of Spanish Flu deaths in the UK had fallen to 1,029, having reached it’s deadly peak in November when 8,000 people died in the first week alone. Today the UK’s weekly deaths from covid-19 stand at 3,062.

With no scientific explanation as to why the numbers of dead had begun to drop, and having not spent a peace-time Christmas together for three years, the UK public were left with the difficult decision whether to meet with family over the festive period.

Many did so – despite the over UK’s struggling hospitals – and local newspapers of the time reported a mad rush on present buying around the country, with some shopkeepers even operating a one-in one-out policy that will now be familiar to many of us as a social-distancing measure.

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Source: Daily Mail