Silent Night: The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce, 1914

On a beautiful, crisp moonlit night in 1914, voices rose up in the frosty air, carrying out over the bleak expanse of no-man’s land to reach the trenches of the opposing side.  This is the heartwarming story of the Christmas Truce that happened during WWI.

The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914
An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

Perhaps it was a bit of curious Christmas magic that caused the truce to simultaneously break out over parts of the western front.  Maybe it was the message in the songs sang by both sides on Christmas Eve, speaking of peace on earth, good will towards men.  Regardless of how it started and why, two-thirds of German, French, Belgium, & British troops – about 100,000 men – participated in this Christmas miracle.

Most accounts say that it happened with the singing on Christmas Eve.  As Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, it was “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere.”  Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it with a bit more detail:

 

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The following morning across the trenches, German soldiers emerged, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English.  Allied soldiers warily left their own trenches to greet them.  In other places, Germans held up signs that read “You no shoot, we no shoot.”  Throughout that Christmas day, troops from both sides exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats.  The truce also allowed both sides to bury their own dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on no man’s land.  One account mentions a British soldier receiving a hair cut from his pre-war German barber.  Other accounts speak of a pig-roast, impromptu soccer games, and other festivities.

The truce didn’t happen across the entire western front, however. In some places the fighting continued.  While other moments of peace happened over the course of WWI, none came on such a scale as the Christmas truce of 1914.  In one of the most violent times in history, for such a truce to happen is a truly remarkable occurrence.  The truce is symbolic of the human desire for peace and humanity.

We hope this story warmed your heart this chilly Christmas like it did ours.  If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out JMCremps collection of other wartime stories.

 

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Say Hello To The Best Gingerbread Cookie Out There

Picture this: the presents are all wrapped and under the tree, the kids are asleep dreaming of peppermint sticks and puppies, the stars twinkle overhead  in the frosty air, and all is peacefully silent and still at last.  As you plop backwards onto the couch, what do you reach for on the end table at your side?  Why, only the best, most delicious, delectable, iconic Christmas treat there is out there.  Grandma’s Ginger Cookies of course!  Whether setting them out for Santa on Christmas Eve or adding them as a staple food to your diet throughout the entire holiday season, folks will be raving about these cookies until next Christmas rolls around.

 

Best Gingerbread Cookies

Grandma’s Ginger Cookies

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces) (tip: Crystallized ginger comes in pkgs in the produce aisle or in the spice aisle)
  • granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.

Scoop the dough with 2 spoons or a small ice cream scoop. With your hands, roll each cookie into a 1 ¾-inch ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a minute or two, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy, but don’t eat too much! You’ll want to save room for dinner after all.