Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Christmas Truce

In the early centuries of Christianity, 
the Twelve Days of Christmas 
were ordained as a time of peace and goodwill.
Some believe this may have been in part responsible 
for the unusual Christmas truces of World War I.

photo courtesy of

According to,
a series of unofficial truces between British and German soldiers
occurred all along the western front in the week of Christmas 1914.
The opposing armies, camped in trenches, were close enough 
to talk with one another. 
In some cases, they left their positions, met in the middle,
played football, and even exchanged gifts.

Richard Schirrman wrote about a 1915 Christmas truce,
that occurred after the Christmas bells sounded in a nearby village.
Hearing the bells, the German and French soldiers ceased fire
and visited each other through unused trench tunnels.
They exchanged "wine, cognac, and cigarettes
for Westphalian black bread, biscuits and ham."
Source: search "Christmas Truce"

Eventually, as hostilities increased, 
the Christmas truces became less frequent.
However, the Wikipedia article cites recent evidence 
of a Christmas truce occurring as late as 1916:
The University of Aberdeen has a copy
of a Private Ronald MacKinnon's 1916 letter from the front,
in which he relates the following:
"Our German friends were quite friendly.
They came over to see us and we traded bully beef for cigars."

A 2005 French film Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)
depicts one of the early truces between French, Scottish, and German troops.
The Christmas Truces are fascinating examples of
peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
Even if temporary ones.

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