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Christmas Truce of 1914

It was believed that the First World War was supposed to be ended by Christmas of 1914 but they were still in their muddy, cold trenches and in battle during the week of Christmas. Since it was coming close to Christmas, on December 7 of 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a ‘Truce of God’ in which there would be a temporary pause in the war for the celebration of Christmas but the authorities of the warring countries rejected the idea to cease-fire temporarily just to celebrate Christmas but they were still determined to keep up their morale and bring some type of festive cheer to their boys on the western front. However, the troops on both fighting sides declared their own little unofficial truce for the holiday.

The Germans were stubbornly festive so they sent truckloads of Christmas trees to their forces to strengthen their morale. On Christmas Eve, the Germans were acting strangely peaceful, guns fell silent, and they had candles and lanterns lit. They were singing Stille Nacht - Silent Night - loudly that it echoed across no man’s land. In addition, the British even slowly started to join in to their singing after being completely baffle at first. Then, after awhile, the Germans shouted from their trenches saying - in English - “Tomorrow is Christmas; if you don't fight, we won't.”

(Caption: British and German soldiers meeting together on Christmas Day in No Man’s Land)

On Christmas Day, some of the German soldiers came out of their trenches and went across no man’s to the allied lines, yelling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Of course, the soldiers on the Allied side were scared that this was a trap but when looking out and seeing them unarmed they came out of their trenches. The German and Allied troops exchanged gifts, took photos, sang songs, and played some soccer. However, some say there wasn't a organized soccer match between the opposing sides but just some kicking around. Apparently an anonymous major who wrote to The Times said that an English regiment did have a soccer match, supposedly with the Saxons, who defeated them 3-2.

Anyways, when this unofficial truce got to the military authorities, they were furious. They were scared that men would question the war and start refusing to obey the orders of their authorities, as a result of being friendly to the enemy who they are supposed to be fighting and meant to defeat. Afterwards, stricter orders were put in to end these activities. In the end, any of the small truces in 1914 never happened again.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 showed that during a violent war can't even break the Christmas spirit. Also, it's celebrated as a symbolic moment of peace in an destructive, violent war.

In other words, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a happy holidays.

Chloe Aitchison


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