The Christmas Truce

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”

Well before the United States entered into World War I the Christmas Truce took place as French, German, and British soldiers crossed the trench lines to exchange food and souvenirs and to sing Christmas carols.

This truce was unofficial and did not happen everywhere there were hostilities.  In some cases, the fighting continued. But some 100,000 troops were involved in the truce along the Western Front. When the Germans placed candles on their trenches and began singing carols, the British responded with carols of their own.

British writer Henry Williamson, a nineteen-year-old private at the time, wrote to his mother:

Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o’clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a ‘dug-out’ (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it?

Books and movies tell the story of the Christmas Truce. But this “Peace on Earth” didn’t last.

Soon the fighting resumed and although there were additional instances of cessations in the fighting the war would rage on for another four years. Before the end, some 40 million military and civilian lives would be lost.

While not of the same magnitude by any stretch, we’re calling for a cessation of posting here for the next few weeks.

We’ll be back in January with new information and updates about the script and perhaps a new direction for this blog.

Best wishes for the Christmas season.

Let us all continue to pray for peace.

Photo credit: By A. C. Michael – The Guardian [2] / [3]Originally published in The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1915., PD-US, [Wikipedia]

Five Golden Rings

fivegoldrings

 

Today is the Fifth Day of Christmas.

No, you don’t have to put your tree back up, but just be aware that the season isn’t over.

Most traditional Christmas celebrations go through January 6, known as the Epiphany or Feast of Lights. Adherance to different calendars between Catholic Rome and Protestant Great Britain meant that for a while Christmas day ws celebrated on January 6 and was thus known as “Old Christmas.” It is traditionally believed to be the day that the Magi visited the Christ child.

In reality, the visit was probably some two years after the birth of the child. But traditions being what they are, the three kings wound up at the stable.

In most Western Churches Christmas Day is actually considered the First Day of Christmas and in many churches these twelve days are also known as Christmastide. The twelve days have actually been celebrated since before the Middle Ages.

Most Americans are familiar with the song the Twelve Days of Christmas, but many confuse the days as being the days leading up to December 25. In the 1990s a story began circulating the Internet that said the song was written as a way to teach the Catechism to Catholic Children in the days when they were being persecuted by the Protestants, but there is no evidence to substantiate this claim. Still, it’s a nice story.

Today is the fifth day of Christmas, the day of Five Golden Rings.

See also:

Snopes.com: No, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was not created as a coded reference to important articles of the Christian faith.

According to PNC Wealth Management the cost of purchasing the twelve days’ worth of gifts in 2015 would be $34,131.