“The First World War broke out in August of 1914. Many rushed to war almost gleefully, confident in victory for their particular side. Many thought the war would be over by Christmas. But when Christmas came the war was still young. It would last another four years and claim the lives of some 8 million soldiers before it was through.
In the midst of this bloodshed, though, a remarkable thing happened. In many places along the Western Front, particularly where the British and the Germans faced each other, unofficial Christmas truces were made in 1914. And here, for a brief few hours, the killing ceased.
Instead of firing bullets at each other, the mortal enemies sang Christmas carols to one another on Christmas Eve. German soldiers even decorated their trenches with candles and with Christmas Trees—tannebaum, they called them. On Christmas morning, soldiers from both sides met in no man’s land and exchanged what gifts they had: buttons and medals, candy and tobacco and liquor. Soldiers who had once been barbers gave free haircuts. One German soldier who had been a juggler in happier times gave a performance in no man’s land.
The goodwill between enemies was only temporary. In a matter of days they were back to the grim business of trying to blow one another apart. But for a few brief hours, the influence of the Prince of Peace had been felt.”