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The Christmas Truce of 1914
World War I is called on account of Christmas

Every year, the world marks the anniversary of a special holiday when enemy soliders
from both sides suddenly dropped their weapons to pose for photos, sing carols,
and exchange gifts during what became known as "The Christmas Miracle" ....

Christmas truce editorial cartoon

An editorial cartoon chronicles
the spontaneous outbreak of
peace during World War I.

My grandfather was alive during World War I. The only experience he shared with us from that time was the story of how Santa Claus stopped the war for Christmas.

He was in the trenches in the winter of 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, in Belgium... on Christmas Eve.

He was only twenty. Like most of the German, French and British soldiers, he was young and frightened. Far from home and family, the Christmas wish of all the soldiers was to survive the day.

As the evening before Christmas deepened into night, the guns fell silent. A strange feeling came over the men sitting in the muddy, cold trenches.

Some brought out small decorations they had hidden away in the hope of having some sort of Christmas in the middle of the fighting. Small pine trees were set out and candles brightened the night. Hand drawn children's pictures sent from home were hung instead of garlands, but the love that these humble gifts held filled the night air.

The Christmas "miracle":

In 1914, German, British, and French soldiers made a truce during which they exchanged gifts, posed for pictures, played friendly games with enemy soldiers, and even exchanged addresses. Tens of thousands of soldiers over hundreds of miles of trenches participated in the truce.

Christmas brought peace to the soldiers in the trenches of WWI
Photo: Library of Congress

The quiet was broken by a harmonica playing softly. To the young German playing the carol, it was the music of Stille Nacht — the English troops knew the song as Silent Night.

A voice joined in, then another. Soon a whole chorus of men were singing. Songs of peace on earth and goodwill to all men transformed the battlefield. This most unlikely Christmas choir sang in different languages, but the songs were the same. They all held hopes for peace and longing for Christmas in the homes that might never be seen again.

A moving light appeared in the no-man's-land between the trenches. Soldiers, who had been shooting at each other hours before, climbed out of their muddy holes and mingled together sharing food and drink saved for a taste of home on Christmas Day. Enemies until that moment, they laughed and sang together for one night sharing the miracle of peace if only for a few hours.

During the strange truce, friends who had fallen in the battle were buried and prayed over by both sides. Afterwards, a few energetic soldiers played soccer in the dark...

As dawn brightened the sky, the men parted. They returned to their trenches and the reality of war, but all of them took away a new spirit from that place.

My grandfather learned that there really was a Santa Claus that night. Even in the bloody fields of war he brings the peace of Christmas to those who believe. As long as my "Opa" lived, he never stopped believing...

The youngest children may wait for a sleigh and reindeer, but as we grow up we learn that we are all Santa's elves. Each one of us hold the promise of a Christmas miracle and the ability to bring peace and joy to the world if we just believe...

also see in Holidays & Observances -> Peace Day

More about the Christmas Truce of 1914 around the Web...

Christmas truce - Wikipedia

Dreamscape Theater production "In Fields Where They Lay"

Last survivor of 'Christmas truce' tells of his sorrow

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