It cannot be overstated how much we at Abraham Thinkin’ love Christmas. Truly, any superlative to describe a person’s enthusiasm is applicable to our Christmas Spirit, and it probably still falls short of effectively capturing the level of our Holiday Cheer. As we all know by now, the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is to sing loud for all to hear. Fortunately for you all, we cannot sing Christmas Carols to you through the computer, so instead, we are going to do what we think is the next best thing. Every day between now and Christmas Day, we will post something related to Christmas, including Christmas Traditions, Stories of Christmas Lore; some of Abe’s Christmas Faves, and much much more.
This Christmas season, we have shared many aspects of the holidays that we love most: from the treats to the gifts, the trees and the songs, and even those magical Christmas mysteries. Today, we would like to touch on the one of the most important (and our favorite) aspects of this time of year: the Christmas spirit. So on this, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, we share a story with you that proves that there is nothing that the goodness of this spirit cannot overcome.
It was December of 1914, and the world was at war. It was only last summer when the war had been declared, and millions of Europeans had enthusiastically rushed to the fight – Germans, British, French, Belgians, Hungarians, Italians, and soldiers from almost every other country in Europe had put on a uniform and picked up a rifle. But that enthusiasm had long since evaporated in the fires of war.
Armed with repeating rifles, artillery, and machine guns, the enemy cut down soldiers on the other side of the battlefield like never before seen in human history. It was not long before the soldiers were ordered to dig in; miles and miles of trenches were hastily constructed on the Western Front, snaking their way through disputed territories in France and Belgium. Suffering through one of the hardest winters in years, the soldiers endured a cold, muddy December, finding warmth only in the thought of victory and the chance of seeing their families again.
And it was there, among so much death and despair, that a Christmas miracle happened: it started with a carol, a familiar tune with unfamiliar words…but on that day, it sounded like home. The Germans are singing, said the British soldiers. But it isn’t a song of war, or a song of hate, a song to the kaiser or a song of a soon-deadly fate. They sing of Christmas, they sing of a tree…they may call it a tannenbaum, but they sing it just like me.
What started with a song grew into laughter and noise, and soon the British were singing along as well. They laid down their weapons and crawled out of their trenches to meet the Germans in the middle of the No-Man’s Land between the trenches of the two armies. Soon, British and German soldiers were conversing and joking as if they were old friends long separated. They exchanged gifts of cigarettes, chocolate, cigars, letters from home, and even greeting cards imprinted with the pictures of King George V and Kaiser Wilhelm.
Amazingly, these truces were neither official nor were they coordinated. They occured spontaneously all across the Western Front, with as much as two-thirds of the battle line between British and German forces seeing no combat action for several days. Some sectors of the front even reported soccer games occurring on Christmas morning. The news swarmed British newspapers and lifted the spirits of the home isles.
Of course, the truce couldn’t last forever, and the next three years were the bloodiest in human history up to that point. But despite the lingering spirit of war, it was the spirit of Christmas that overcame death and despair that December in 1914.
And with that, we at *Abraham Thinkin’* would like to not only thank you for reading this series, but also to wish you the happiest of holidays and a very, very Merry Christmas.