T is for Truce in the Trenches

christmas truce

Imagine being in a war zone trench, just feet away from the enemy’s on Christmas Eve.

Such a thing occurred on December 24, 1914 when carols were sung between the British and German soldiers.

Perhaps it sounded something like this:

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu[N 1] sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!
They are green when summer days are bright,
They are green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!


At sunrise on Christmas Day, unarmed German soldiers approached the British calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the British and allied soldiers feared being tricked, but eventually climbed out of their trenches and exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs.

This short cease fire also allowed both sides to retrieve the bodies of fellow combatants.

Sadly, this was the last example of chivalry between enemies. The gesture was never repeated again.


British and German troops meeting in no man’s land during the unofficial truce (British troops from the Northumberland Hussars, 7th Division, Bridoux-Rouge Banc Sector)

Is there someone you need to call a truce with? As Christians, we are to love our enemies. All year ’round. Not just at Christmas. But if you’re human, there are probably a few prickly people in your life you may need to extend some grace to. Why not make it a goal to call a truce with these people at Christmas?

Who knows? You just might make history with your gesture of love.

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