Sophie (age 7) and Ellie (age 5) tell the story of the Christmas Tree over thousands of years of history.
They tell how it has its roots in the Winter Solstice. Celts and Vikings would bring evergreen branches into the home as a sign that Spring would come. Ancient Egyptians would celebrate the return of the Sun God, Ra, with evergreen branches. The Roman festival of Saturnalia saw them bring evergreen branches into their homes along with other strange goings on. Across Germany people continued to bring evergreen trees and branches into their homes long after Christianity came. But they were not decorated.
Many people believe that the great Protestant reformer, Martin Luther was the first person to decorate a Christmas tree. Sophie tells how he was so amazed by the beauty of a tree that he chopped it down and took it home for his wife. It was the first Christmas Tree.
We then learn how the Christmas Tree was made popular by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Then it was taken to America by newspapers. The whole world was now using Christmas Trees.
Finally, we tell the heartwarming story of London’s Norwegian Christmas Tree. At the height of World War 2 the Germans invade Norway. Britain helps but to no avail. The King of Norway flees to London. Five years of war later the Americans and British are victorious. In 1947 a grateful Norway sends a huge Norwegian Christmas Tree to Britain as a Thank you present. They send a new Christmas Tree every year.
Sophie (aged 7) and Ellie (aged 5) want to know if battles ever happened at Christmas so together we tell the story of the Battle of the Bulge in World War Two.
It is winter 1944. Allied troops are at the borders of Germany. Germany seems defeated. The allies are resting, preparing for the final push for Berlin in the Spring which will end World War Two. But Hitler has a plan of his own. He gathers his last tank army together in great secrecy. His tanks smash through woods called the Ardennes. The Battle of the Bulge has started.
The Americans are stunned. The weather is terrible so the Allied planes cannot help. German soldiers wearing American uniforms spread confusion behind Allied lines. German soldiers all kill captured American prisoners. But Hitler’s tanks are desperately short of petrol. They need to capture some of the Allied petrol to keep the attack going. But the allies keep blowing it up.
In the middle of the German advance is the town of Bastogne. The German tanks sweep past the town. But American paratroopers dig in around the town and hold it against all attacks – even on Christmas Day. This slows down the German advance. This gives the Americans time to bring their own tanks up. The weather also cleared and the Allied planes started bombing the German tanks. With one final throw of the dice the last German planes went into battle. But were shot down. Now Germany had lost her last tanks and her last planes. There was nothing to stop the Allies now.
A few months later Russia captured Berlin, Hitler killed himself and World War Two was over.
The girls also reflect on how at this Christmas we owe our freedoms to those brave American soldiers who fought for us in World War Two at the Battle of the Bulge at Christmas 1944
If you like this episode you might also like our other World War Two episodes.
Here we have an episode on Dunkirk 1940 in World War 2
Here we have an episode on the Battle of Britain 1940 in World War 2
Here we have an episode on Pearl Harbor 1941 in World War 2
Here we have an episode on VE Day 1945 at the end of World War 2
If you like listening to History Storytime you might like our Patrons’ Club. You get exclusive episodes, can choose and episode and be in an episode. We have a new episode out about the Siege of Bastogne which fits in well with this episode. We also have episodes about the Seven Wonders of the World and about the Bayeux Tapestry of 1066.
Sophie (age 7) & Ellie (age 5) tell the story of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor which happened today in 1941 and brought America into World War Two. #OTD
Until the 19th century Japan isolated itself from the world. Then Commodore Perry’s ironclad ship sails into Tokyo Harbour. The Japanese are amazed to realise how technologically far behind the world they have fallen. They resolve to catch up.
For the next fifty years they modernise their economy building a formidable modern navy and fleet. They then resolve to use them in a bid for power. They start with a surprise attack on Russia at Port Arthur. Japan wins the war. Then in the 1930s they launch a surprise attack on China sweeping to control great swathes of the country. They treat ordinary Chinese people very badly.
By 1941 the world is at war in Europe – World War Two. Other countries are concerned about Japan’s intentions. They stop selling oil to Japan. Without oil Japan would not be able to fight an aggressive war. Japan decides to strike at the oilfield in the far east controlled by the European Empires. But they know this will draw the American forces into World War Two. They decide to first launch a surprise attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor.
At Pearl Harbor the US fleet suspects nothing. People are going about their daily business. Suddenly they see Japanese planes overhead diving into bomb the ships at harbor. Bombs rain down. Torpedoes dart underwater. Withing minutes some of the greatest US battleships are sunk. Thousands of lives are lost. The US try to fight back but it is too late to save the bulk of the fleet.
The result is a crushing Japanese victory.
But the Japanese victory is a hollow one. The Japanese have sunk the US Battleships. But the US carriers are not in Pearl Harbor that day. They are safe to fight again. Worse for Japan, America is roused to utter fury at the unprovoked attack. The US President calls it a day of infamy. The huge resources of America are mobilised for World War Two. They far outweigh the capacity of Japan. Three years later the Japanese empire is destroyed, Japan’s cities are in rubble and Japan is occupied.
If you like this episode you might also like our other World War Two episodes. We have World War Two episodes on Dunkirk:
Or you might like our World War Two episode on the Battle of Britain:
If you like this episode you might want to join our Patrons’ Club. You can listen to exclusive episodes, help choose an episode or be in an episode. To join go to www.patreon.com/historystorytime
Sophie (age 7) and Ellie (age 5) tell the inspirational story of Rosa Parks and how her refusal to move seats on a bus, 65 years ago this week, helped change America for the better.
America in 1950s is still scarred by the impact of the evils of slavery. Slavery might have been abolished but mean laws have replaced them in the South of the United States which make life very difficult for black people. They are sent to different schools, they have to eat in different sections of restaurants and use different sections of toilets. Seats at the front of buses are reserved for white people, whereas black people have to sit at the back of the bus. It’s not just the laws, day to day they are often bullied by some of the white people.
Rosa Parks is a black lady living in Montgomery, Alabama. She has experienced racism all her life. One day the bus driver tells her to move seats to make space for white people. She decides enough is enough. She refuses to move seats. The police are called and Rosa Parks is arrested. Rosa Parks is taken to the court house and convicted and fined.
But the black people of Alabama have had enough too. Lead by inspirational leaders such as Martin Luther King they decide to take a stand. On behalf of Rosa Parks they organise a boycott of the City’s bus network. For over a year black people refused to travel on the buses. Meanwhile Martin Luther King and others organised different court cases to try to overturn the racist bus rules. Eventually they are successful. The efforts of people like Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks doesn’t only improve the bus situation but also many of the other laws are changed so that black people can no longer be discriminated against in law.
Rosa Parks continues her campaigning all her life. When she died she is honoured by her home town of Montgomery and also by the whole United States. Her stand against racism and against the bus laws of Alabama help to change a nation for the better.
If you liked this episode you might also like our episode on the Slave Trade:
Or you might also like our episode on great black women of Britain:
If you like our History Storytime podcast then do please join our Patron’s Club. You can listen to exclusive episodes like our ones on the Seven Wonders of the World or on the Bayeux Tapestry. Or you can help choose the topic of an episode or even be in an episode.
Details are here:
Sophie (age 7) and Ellie (age 5) love stories about Ancient Egypt so they tell the story of the boy Pharoah, Tutankhamun, including how his body was turned into a mummy.
We explain how Egypt got its wealth from the annual flooding of the Nile. The Old Kingdom turn this wealth into the Pyramids and the Great Sphinx. The Middle Kingdom builds on this. After years of turmoil the New Kingdom emerges. Powerful Egyptian rulers expand Egypt’s territories to nearby countries.
But the new Pharoah, Akenhaton wants to build a new religion at home. He replaces all the old priests and spends less time fighting other countries. His Queen, Nefertiti, becomes increasingly powerful.
But after they die they leave the eight year old boy Tutankhamun to become Pharoah. Tutankahmun reverses the policy of abandoning the old Gods. He returns Egypt to their traditional religion. He returns Egypt to their traditional approach of engaging, sometimes by war, with neighbouring countries. He gets married and has two children. But Tutankhamun is sick. His legs don’t work properly and he has to walk with a cane. He gets a severe form of malaria which leaves him weak and sick. Then his leg is badly injured somehow. Tutankhamun dies aged just 18 years old.
After his death, he is turned into a mummy. We learn about the mummification process. It’s disgusting and Ellie tells the full gory details. He has his brain pulled out through his noise. His organs are sliced from his body and put in pots shaped like Gods. His body is stuffed with plants and herbs. Finally, it is wrapped up to protect the skin. Afterwards his mummified body is placed in a golden shell covered in jewels. He is placed into a tomb.
Over thousands of years his body and tomb are lost.
Then 100 years ago, explorers discover the lost tomb. When they open it they are amazed to see Tutankhamun’s beautiful golden mask and then to find his mummy inside.
People around the world see the incredible workmanship. It sparks a global fascination with all things Egyptian - a fascination which continues today.
If you liked this episode about Tutankhamun, ancient Egypt and mummies then you might enjoy our episode about Cleopatra:
Our Patrons’ Club has exclusive episodes for members. These include an episode on the Seven Wonders of the World which highlights the Great Pyramid of Giza. You can become a member here:
Sophie (age 7) and Ellie (age 5) tell the story of the Mayflower, the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving in America.