The Christmas Spirit During Wartime

The Christmas Truce of 1914 were widespread and unofficial ceasefires among the troops of the western front of WWI around Christmas time in 1914.

These truces happened in the infancy of the war (month five of a fifty-five month war). Before the Christmas Truce battle had gone into a lull as commanders on all sides reconsidered their tactics. The week before the 25th, British, French and German soldiers crossed the once deadly trenches to exchange Christmas greetings and talk.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in some areas, men from all sides crossed the once-deadly no-man’s-land to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs.  The soldiers participated in joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps and some meetings even ended in caroling.

One of the most memorable images of the truce was a group of men playing soccer with each other. The peace was not complete, however, fighting continued in some areas while in others troops on both sides agreed to no more than arrangements to recover the bodies of fallen comrades.

Unfortunately, the following year the Christmas peace was not as nearly widespread. This was likely due to extreme orders on all sides against such truces and the devastating loses suffered by all sides.

While such truces existed outside of Christmas time they were never as widely participated in during a single period, making the Christmas Truce unique. And despite the fact that it did not involve any American or Ohioan troops this moment in history is a stark reminder of humanity’s ability to both show mercy in a time of giving even during such a violent and grim moment in our history.