Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Day Down Through the Ages

by Patricia Bradley


On the news tonight I heard a TV anchor tell the story of the Christmas Truce that happened one hundred years ago during WWI. I looked it up and this is what I found:

December 25, 1914 Just after midnight on Christmas morning, the German troops along the Eastern and Western fronts cease firing their guns and artillery, and start singing Christmas carols and playing brass musical instruments; at first light, many German soldiers emerge from their trenches and cross No Man's Land, calling out Merry Christmas in English and French; at first the Allied soldiers suspect a trick, but soon they are shaking hands with the Boche; swapping cigarettes and plum pudding, and even playing soccer; the Christmas Truce lasts a few days, then it is back to the bloody conflict of World War I; there are no more Christmas Truces.

A little more research revealed that the German soldiers put up Christmas trees on their parapets. There was no record of a soccer game being played, but I'd like to think it happened. After all, if a Christmas Truce during the bloodiest war ever can happen, why not a soccer game?

 I found this photo taken of the troops during the truce. 
German and British soldiers


Then, I wondered what else had happened on Christmas in the past. Here are a few things I found:

December 25, 336, the first recorded Christmas celebration in Rome

December 25, 1223, St Francis of Assisi assembles first Nativity scene 


December 25, 1621 Gov William Bradford forbids game playing on this day 

December 25, 1643 Christmas Island is founded and named by Captain William Mynors of the East India Ship Company vessel, the Royal Mary

December 25, 1758 Halley's comet was first sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch 

December 25, 1776 George Washington and his army cross the Delaware River to attack the Kingdom of Great Britain's Hessian mercenaries in Trenton, New Jersey

December 25, 1868, Despite bitter opposition, President A Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion (the Civil War

A lot more things happened on December 25 and you can check them out at Dates in History

To everyone celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, I want to wish that is your best ever. May you have a happy and productive and restful 2015. 

Or is that an oxymoron? 


13 comments:

  1. Really interesting facts. Thanks for digging them up.
    Have a nice holiday.

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    1. Thanks! Hope you have a great holiday, too.

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  2. I've heard of the Union and Confederates pausing during the holiday.
    Great info, thanks for sharing.

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    1. I even know families who put aside their differences at Christmas. lol. Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas!

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  3. Patricia, I love these kinds of historical fun facts. Too bad that Christmas spirit couldn't last all year long. Have a great holiday season!

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    1. Carol, it would be great if we could carry the Christmas spirit around all the time!

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  4. I enjoyed these historical tidbits, Patricia. Thanks so much for sharing. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Britney, so glad you enjoyed them. I love historical facts.

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  5. Patricia - I saw that same report and find it so encouraging. The other facts are interesting as well. I do think, though, that productive and restful can't really happen unless you test mattresses for a living, or something. I think preparing to be creative (in writing, at least) kind of sets you on the edge of yourself - the observer rather than the participant in life - and that pushes relaxation out of the way. Unless we could produce and relax on alternate days? Why not? Thanks for the good post.

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    1. Great idea, Muriel! And I totally agree that writing pushes us to the edge of ourselves. Merry Christmas!

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  6. Thank you for this interesting post, Patricia. I think knowing something about the history and the development of a holiday can enrich our experience of it.

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  7. I think Muriel's right, about being on the edge of yourself. A very interesting post! Merry Christmas, Patricia!

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  8. I've read that account before, and I love it. It's such a hopeful story of peace, even if it was short-lived.

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