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Monday, September 14, 2020

The Message of the Christmas Truce of 1914


It is no secret that the first and second world war featured the most dastardly and gruesome events in human history. At these times, the relentlessness of man in their conquest took notice and prevailed. In the process, many lives were lost, and many homes were destroyed. However, unbeknownst to many, amid the dark haze that enveloped humanity in the 20th Century, a glimmer of hope shone through – the hope that holds the promise of reunification and reparation. Thus, began the long and winding healing process that paved the way for globalization and globalism. This was known as the Christmas Truce of 1914.

History, World War I, Great War, Truce, Football
Image: Independent
What made the Christmas truce of 1914 standout is the fact that it has not been redone. Redone in a way that is memorable and convenient. The Christmas Truce of 1914 is like the more contemporary EDSA People Power March in the Philippines except on a larger scale. Both testified to the notion that peace is not always achieved through bloodshed. The question now lingers, how this truce came to be?


The answer is simple: defiance and exhaustion. Before the truce took place, soldiers at the Franco-British and German fronts were hard on heels digging trenches that would serve them against the opposition. This was after a successful attack launched by the Allied forces against the central powers in the Battle of Maine during September 1914. Eventually, both forces reached a stalemate in Flanders Belgium, and could not proceed on flanking and outflanking each side. Then came December 1914 where snow begins to steadily fall. Troops called for a ceasefire and at Christmas 1914, a sporadic truce was made.

It is important to note that this truce is not indefinite. Shortly after, both sides resumed exchanging fires. However, at that little moment, the troops earned mutual respect and respite. Both sides merrily greeted each other in their native tongues, cigarettes were exchanged, Christmas trees were erected, plum puddings were given, and the dead were given a proper burial. Some documents even pointed of men playing soccer. In no man’s land, both sides found a middle ground.


History, World War I, Great War, Truce, Pope Benedict XV
Image: ChurchPop
Despite being undocumented for a significant amount of time, word eventually got out. The call for peace by Pope Benedict XV in his public letter (Open Christmas Letter) was realized. The aftermath is felt throughout this day. For years to come, the live-and-let-live system (truces for the welfare of each combatant) prevailed in the battlefield. At present, reenactments were held to commemorate this point in history. 

The most popular depiction of Christmas truce is the 2005 war epic film titled Joyeux Noel. This modern classic garnered a lot of praise from critics and the general public and even nominated for Oscar's.  As the show Doctor Who noted, there are fewer dead people because humanity learned to set aside their differences. May the Christmas truce be remembered for its message of pacifism and brotherhood.

Written Joshua Rodriguez, IFY Books

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