The Christmas season often bring memories and reflections on Christmases past. One of our favorite Christmas stories is the infamous Christmas Truce between British and German soldiers during World War I. If you haven’t shared this beautiful and miraculous story with your children, take a moment and do so on this 100 year anniversary of that event.
On the days leading up to Christmas Eve, 1914, German troops posted along the western front began decorating the area around their trenches. On Christmas Eve, they put candles in the trees and in the trenches and began to sing Christmas carols. Because they were ensconced in their trenches within shouting distance of the British line, the British soldiers could see and hear the festivities occurring. Before long, the British responded with carols of their own, and soon both sides were shouting Christmas greetings to each other.
Within a short period of time, some brave soldiers laid down their arms and crossed the No-Man’s Land between the two trenches to personally greet the soldiers they were supposed to be shooting at on the other side. This led to the exchanging of small gifts between the men. They shared food, games, mementos, tobacco, chocolate, buttons, and even hats. More importantly they shared pictures of their families and stories of their home lives. One British soldier had received a new soccer ball from home and an impromptu soccer game broke out between the two sides.
Henry Williamson, a nineteen-year-old private in the London Rifle Brigade wrote to his mother, “Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o’clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a ‘dug-out’ (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it?”
This wonderful truce may have only lasted through Christmas Day, 1914, but it has managed to inspire people the world over for a century. Share it with your family to keep the memory alive and to remind them of the joy and blessings the Christmas season brings.
Merry Christmas from JM Cremps!
The above photo is Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christmas_Truce_1914.png#mediaviewer/File:Christmas_Truce_1914.png