The Christmas Truce 1914

| December 23, 2013 | 4 Comments
Photograph Q50719 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.  This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.

Photograph Q50719 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums. This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.

Many journals, letters, and memoirs recount a Christmas miracle on the Western Front during 1914. Roughly 100,000 British and German troops ceased fighting and came together in the spirit of Christmas. It began when some German troops raised candles above the trenches and started singing Christmas Carols – one of them was Stille Nacht (Silent Night). Both sides called out Christmas greetings to each other and took turns singing carols in their own language. When the British started singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” the Germans joined in singing the Latin words “Adeste Fideles” to the same tune.

There are accounts of the troops shaking hands, trading buttons and other small items, and even playing soccer together. On Christmas Day they held a joint service to bury their dead.

The two sides were ordered back to their trenches following this unofficial truce. Captain Charles “Buffalo Bill” Stockwell of the Second Royal Welch Fusiliers recalled how the peace ended early on December 26. “At 8:30, I fired three shots into the air and put a flag with “Merry Christmas” on it on the parapet. He [a German] put up a sheet with “Thank You” on it, and the German captain appeared on the parapet. We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots into the air, and the war was on again.”

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Category: Holiday, Living, Music and Books, Themes

About the Author ()

Tanya is a Licensed Kindermusik Educator. She studied music at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She became a licensed Kindermusik educator in 2003. Tanya enjoys teaching piano and voice in her home studio in Orleans as well as Kindermusik at the South Fallingbrook Community Centre. Tanya has participated in award winning choirs which have been featured on CBC radio. She sang at the Canadian Premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem" in the choir under the direction of Dr. Elmer Iseler at Roy Thompson Hall as well as the investiture of Madame Jeanne Sauvé, 23rd Governor General of Canada. She established Kindermusik with Tanya when she recognized the need for a studio that offers high-quality musical experiences for children to enjoy with their families.

Comments (4)

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  1. Victoria Ess says:

    I remember learning about this years ago — what a touching piece of history.

  2. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    it is truly amazing what Christmas can accomplish. I knew this tale already and was touched by it. Now in war, religious holidays seem to be taken as an opportunity to advance an attack rather than suspend hostilities which is sad.

  3. kathy downey says:

    Life was so different back then,than it is today.I remember my grandfather telling this story years ago

  4. kathy downey says:

    Touching piece of history.

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