Celebrating Peace: The Christmas Truce of 1914December 12, 2014
It’s a little known moment in history but an incredible example of how the holiday spirit can have an impact even in the most dire of situations. War doesn’t generally stop for the holidays - but one hundred years ago it did.credit Diana Overbey - Presently in the Past
It was Christmas Eve 1914, and World War I was raging fiercely in Europe. British and German troops were battling in the trenches of the Western Front near Ypres, France. Of course the trenches of World War I were more than mere holes in the ground - they became home to the soldiers who fought from them day in and day out. As evening fell on Christmas Eve, the soldiers in both the British and German trenches were singing Christmas carols.
With dawn breaking over the horizon on Christmas day, several German soldiers peeked out of the trenches, and with hesitation called out “Merry Christmas” in English. Of course the British at first thought that this must be a trick. They discovered however that the Germans were unarmed, and then they climbed out themselves and shook hands with their enemies.
The soldiers exchanged simple gifts and shared food and songs. And unbelievably, it’s documented in some places that the soldiers indulged in soccer! Historical accounts tell us that the kickabout happened with a ration tin for a ball, but no one quite agrees on whether the Germans or the British won the match.
Troops during an intense war found a few hours of peace through thanks to the holiday spirit! How amazing is that?
Unfortunately, fighting continued the following day, with the same men who broke bread and sang songs together shooting at each other again.
But one hundred years later, we can perhaps take solace in fact that peace is possible even in the most dire of situations. And maybe that can inspire us to create opportunities for peace in our own lives.