One hundred years ago, on Christmas Eve, in a muddy and cold place near Ploegsteert, on the WWI front between Belgium and France, surrounded by no-man’s land littered with barbed wire and dead bodies, German and Allied soldiers climbed from their trenches to celebrate Christmas in what became to be known as the Christmas Truce.
It was a spontaneous rise of humanity celebrating their common Christian roots and faith. German soldiers placed makeshift Christmas trees on the bulwark.
Historian Stanley Weintraub wrote in his book, Silent Night, how soldiers, after agreeing not to shoot each other, sang carols in an odd fraternity of inveterate enemies turned into momentary friends by their common belief in God and the tradition of Christmas, Christmas caroling, and Christmas trees. Shaking hands, in the old Germanic tradition of showing that they were not armed, they shared cigarettes and food.
Extending the truce into Christmas Day, the combatants were able to dig graves, bury their dead, and hold memorials. Weintraub mentioned that one Scottish chaplain recited during the memorial the 23rd Psalm in two languages.
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