Holidays in a Pandemic? Here’s What Happened in 1918 - The New York Times

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The holiday season is between two deadly flu outbreaks. The family still gathers together, often sitting in empty chairs around the table.

Shortly before Christmas, Rebecca Tinti was visiting some sick neighbors due to the devastating damage caused by the pandemic in rural Iowa.

On the family’s farm, she found seven of them, including a newborn baby who was sick in bed, and a 6-year-old girl was left to take care of everyone else.

Ms. Tindy stepped in to help, but she could not avoid the tragedy. She wrote in a letter in January 1919: "Mr. waited for rest until he relapsed and deteriorated and died a week later." I stayed until the day of the funeral, which is the day before Christmas. . "

Ms. Tindy’s letter is now in the hands of her 72-year-old daughter Ruth M. Lux (Ruth M. Lux), a daughter in Leaddale, Iowa. Ms. Lux has dozens of old family letters, handed down by her mother and grandmother. She said: "I call my house the Lidderdale branch of the National Archives."

These letters are about the latest situation of the corn harvest and slaughtered pigs, as well as reports of diseases and deaths. They were sent from the country of the pandemic. The pandemic sickened millions of people and killed 675,000, of which at least Fifty million people died. It is attributed to

Like today's coronavirus, this pandemic seems calm. The winter vacation of 1918 was marked by heavy losses. After the deadliest wave of autumn, they were relatively calm. Soon after New Year's Day, another smaller fluctuation will reach its peak.

However, the national dialogue about private family gatherings in 1918 seemed to be charged less than

Many people feel tired due to months of restrictions, so they stay at home under the guidance of the health agency.

"Thousands of people have lost their loved ones," he said

, Medical historian at the University of Michigan, online editor

. "But by Thanksgiving, there is really little debate about whether they should get together."

Therefore, they often sit on empty chairs on the table.

At the time, another major event was the theft of newspaper headlines: the end of the First World War. The soldiers returned home, and the victory of the Allies was a cause for celebration.

President Woodrow Wilson said on Thanksgiving: "This year, we have a special touch and gratitude, and we are happy for it."

, Which did not mention a pandemic. "God happily gave us peace."

Although soldiers’ domestic and international travel

News reports at the time indicated that the risk of infection did not prevent people from celebrating the victory of the Allied forces.

On Christmas Eve in 1918,

Thousands of soldiers will be welcomed into New York City houses and invited to dance and feast. In an event at the 71st Army Armory on Park Avenue in Manhattan, “In addition to fun and dancing, there will also be 300 pounds of chocolate fudge made by beautiful girls, and so many pounds of sorbet, mostly made by their mothers. Yes," the report said.

Other celebrations are more moderate. For many people in the United States, the Christmas holidays are concentrated at home

He is a historian at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a vacation expert.

Dr. Restad said that in 1918, holiday travel was less common than it is today, partly because families tend to live together. It is fashionable to drag an evergreen tree indoors to decorate it. The same is true for Santa's gifts to children.

For many people, church services are also part of the holiday. In 1918, Caroline Schumacher, the great-grandmother of Ms. Lux, missed them very sadly.

She said in a letter from Carroll, Iowa on December 29: "I think you have seen that the town has been quarantined. I don't know how long it will be closed. It would be terrible without a church. . It looks like it’s not Christmas at all.”

Dr. Restad said that because personal letters convey details of daily life, they sometimes retain historical fragments that newspapers ignore. She added: "Women usually record local culture and largely consumer culture."

Ms. Lux’s family letters were copied by Julia Evans in 2014, and Julia Evans copied letters from Julia Evans in 2014. Lower case, irregular spelling and grammar make it difficult to read.

Newspapers also reported on the epidemic, and reports across the United States showed that officials’ reactions to the spread of the flu were sporadic.

In Hamilton, Montana,

According to reports, in late December 1918, the one-month city-wide shutdown was cancelled, just in time for the opening of churches and cinemas on Christmas Day.

In Lodi, California, “because of the flu here, even though businesses say that holiday business is good, Christmas celebrations have been greatly reduced”

On Christmas Eve. "There will be no municipal trees this year."

Soon after Christmas, the Chicago Guardian published a report about families gathering in Illinois for family visits or church services. Notices about people who got sick or died of the flu were scattered in the report.

This year, with the increase in coronavirus cases and health professionals

Ms. Lux, who is related to the vacation trip, plans to stay

. But her family letter a century ago mentioned gatherings and graves.

A relative, John Tinti, wrote in February 1919: “I spent three weeks busy with my neighbor’s housework and buried the dead. This winter, I fired more people in my life than before. . It's really bad."

Another relative, Margaret Hamilton, wrote that she was dying. She said in a letter in March 1919: "My heart hardly wants to work. My lips and nails are purple." "It must be passing soon."

Ms. Lux was the most impressed with great-grandmother Rebecca Tinti. Her letter stated that he had traveled many times to take care of critically ill friends and neighbors. Ms. Lukes said: "This lady is actually the Florence Nightingale from Adele County."

Therefore, on a windy day in April (the same month, the global coronavirus death toll exceeded 200,000), Ms. Lux drove about 60 miles from Lidderdale to Casey, Iowa, to see Look at the place where Ms. Tindy was buried, which was nearly 90 years ago.

The tomb is easy to find in a small cemetery on the top of the mountain. Ms. Lux said: "I thought,'For decades, no one has put anything on these graves.'"

She put a bunch of silk flowers before she drove home.

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