Traditionally a day to begin opening the doors on the Advent Calendar but also, in 1990, the day when mainland Britain re-joined continental Europe. The final wall of rock was breached in the construction of the Channel Tunnel with French and British workers shaking hands, exchanging flags through the gap and celebrating with champagne. The tunnel was finally completed and opened in 1994, more than thirty years after the commitment to build the cross-channel link was first announced and nearly 200 years after the idea was first proposed by Napoleon I.
However, this was a less auspicious day in 1941 when points rationing was introduced in the UK during World War II. The Ministry of Food introduced the scheme for items such as canned meat, fish and vegetables and this was later extended to include rice, canned fruit, condensed milk, breakfast cereals and biscuits. Everyone was allowed sixteen points a month, later increased to twenty, to spend as they desired at whichever shop had the items they required.
In 1948, three years after the end of the war, rationing was still in force with bacon, ham, butter, cheese, meat, sugar, tea, chocolates and eggs still difficult to obtain. Bread, soap, potatoes and bananas were also still rationed at this time and in 1951, people could still purchase only 10d (4p) worth of meat each week.
Rationing ended completely in 1954 after a period of fourteen years when meat was finally de-rationed.
So when you open the first door of your Advent Calendar today, consider yourself lucky!