Christmas 1913

History has always been a passion of mine.

Here are some of the notable things froms UK, Europe & USA that became known at Christmas 1913 (the last Christmas before the start of the Great War).


Raymond Asquith spent Christmas Day with his father, Herbert, at the family home at Easton Gray in Wiltshire, "a typical example of dignified English domestic architecture".

Sandy Turnbull played inside left for Manchester United on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Turnbull was a leading player in the first great United team, which was beginning to fall apart. United suffered two defeats by Everton that Christmas, 0-1 and 0-5.

Jack Kipling went to the Christmas shows in London with his famous writer father, Rudyard, and then travelled with him to a chateau in France owned by the American railroad lawyer, Chauncey Mitchell Depew II.

In Britain, there was an increasingly violent campaign for women's suffrage and an increasingly vicious, government suppression of the suffragettes.

The Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, said just after Christmas 1913: "Our relations with Germany are infinitely more friendly now than they have been for years. Sanity has now been more or less restored on both sides of the North Sea."

The Manchester Guardian's London correspondent wrote: "Christmas Eve was perfect, at any rate for the comfortably dressed, and the West End shopping streets were happy places. Everyone was carrying parcels and none of them (one takes it) were carrying things for themselves, so for a moment things took in the look of an ideal world."

A London bus strike had been averted.

A postal strike had been abandoned at the last moment.

Turkeys were in short supply because of industrial unrest in Ireland. Prices were up tuppence a pound (2p a kilo) on the previous year.

"This is said to have been the most prosperous Christmas week that London shopkeepers have known for many years," the Guardian said. "Money has been very plentiful." More than 50 extra trains were run out of Euston "crowded to overflowing".

In Manchester, there were "immense crowds in the shopping streets". Popular presents were a "cosy gents dressing gown" or a Chantilly lace scarf "for the ladies", each at 21s 9d (about £1.10), or a silver matchbox for 4s 3d (21p). Servants could be given a "useful" present such as an apron at 1s 11d (10p). Children of the rich might ask for a £15 13s 3d toy car, four feet long.


Wilfred Owen spent a lonely Christmas teaching in Bordeaux. He complained that he had received no Christmas cards from his favourite, former pupils in England.

Henri Alban-Fournier was celebrating the success of his first novel, Le Grand Meaulnes. The book had been cheated of the Goncourt prize the previous month but was the best-seller in France that Christmas. Its author may also have taken his football boots down to a muddy field beside the Seine, where he ran one of the first French rugby clubs.

Alfred Lichtenstein did not celebrate Christmas but spent the holiday at home with his wealthy, Jewish family in Berlin, discussing his recent military service and the publication of his doubly prophetic book of poetry, Die Dämmerung (The Dusk).

Lenin was plotting in Krakow; Stalin was in exile in Siberia.

There was a war in the Balkans; there was a threat of civil war in Ireland (never more so than at Christmas 1913).


Two days before Christmas in 1913, Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act. The law sought to end bank failures by creating a central banking system.

Just before Christmas 1913, the first industrial assembly line, making Model T Fords, was started in Detroit.

Charlie Chaplin signed his first contract in Hollywood.

Italian Hall Tradegy Calumet Michigan - a group of union members planned a Christmas eve celebration for their children at the Italian Hall on Seventh Street.  The activities that evening must have been the most fun these children had since the start of the (Michigan Miners)strike.  Unfortunately, the excitement turned to tragedy as someone, his identity never learned, cried FIRE.  As the children and adults panicked, many worked their way towards the stairwell.  The first unlucky souls quickly realized the doors at the bottom would not open.  Were they locked?  Was somebody holding them closed?  It is hard to comprehend, but 73 men, women and children died in that staircase.  Some were crushed, others died from suffocation.  Can you imagine the shock of the rescuers when they finally pried open the doors and they pulled bodies up and out of the staircase.