New England Heritage: Christmas 1945
Exactly 65 years ago today, these images appeared in the December 23, 1945 issue of The Boston Herald. What a remarkable advertisement for Narragansett Brewing Company. The below painting is titled, “On The Post Road,” and was created by artist, Harold Breut. Little is known about the artist, but we do know that this Christmas was the first after the end of World War II. At that time more than ever, Christmas truly meant “Peace At Last” for all. Soldiers came home to their families and celebrated not only the birth of Jesus Christ, but being home for the holidays with loved ones.
Perhaps this excerpt from the Time Magazine piece, Religion: Christmas 1945, which was originally published on December 24, 1945 sums it up best:
Peace and homecoming, peace and homecoming rang like the clangor of Christmas bells in the heart of nearly every American last week.
For most Americans, on the first Christmas without war since 1938, these two facts transcended all others: peace (at least, the cessation of major war) had come back to earth; millions of U.S. fighting men, now a peaceful army of longed-for occupation, were streaming back to their homes. As families were reunited, often after years of separation, it was small wonder if the Christmas desire to give turned, as a result of the famine of goods, into a frenzy to buy, if Christmas as a domestic holiday and a public manifestation was sometimes of staggering inconsequence.
As a religious holiday, Christmas 1945 had, at least in the secret mind of those who shared the Christian vision, a new solemnity. Well might they read with a new anguish of hope, a new resoluteness of faith, a new temper of charity, the age-old words—perhaps the most perfect ever uttered:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.