Thursday 25 December 2014

The Christmas Truce 100 Years On

A century ago today, on Christmas Day 1914, the guns fell silent in the Great War and the soldiers of both sides walked out into No-Man's Land and had a celebration. They shook hands, embraced, buried their dead, shared food and drink, and even played a game of football; which legend says Germany won (so giving England a score to even forty eight years later in the World Cup of 1966). This story moves me like almost no other in history. The photographs of the two sides celebrating together is like nothing else I've ever seen. For this reason I find it pretty distasteful, cheap and tacky that the supermarket corporation Sainsburys has decided to exploit the story of the Truce in their advertising, see: The Christmas Truce happened after just a few months of the war, see:; the worst was yet to come. Millions more were to be wiped out, sometimes over a quarter of a million in just a few days of a single engagement. We saw the first widespread use of chemical weapons, tanks, machine guns and other demonic technology. Of course at the end of that Christmas Day in 1914 day, the two sides went back to their own trenches and continued blowing the Greek buggery out of each other. The war that "will be over by Christmas!" went on over three more Christmases, nearly four; and there was never a Christmas truce again. I wonder... on that day a hundred years ago, while those British and German soldiers were toasting each other amongst the mud, barbed wire and mines, if they could have seen into the future, if they had glimpsed the horrors that were yet to come...

...would they have gone back?


Anonymous said...

Very poignant post Ben.

This also, for me, does actually sum up the whole culture of Christmas.

As so the 'truce' would give way to the horror to come, so has the principals of organised religion after the death of Christ and the building of the Church Institute and the continued bloodshed thereafter, the desecration of pagan and traditional cultural values and beliefs in substitute for a climate where people had to convert to Christianity.

The fact that it has been used in the advert actually is very 'fitting' to the whole culture of Christmas historically and theories as advertisement.

Those theories become more important than the figure of what Christmas is supposed to mean be it Christ, Winter Solstice and the changing of the seasons, Gathering etc and in that tradition subverting a natural thing into a product just repeats itself sadly again.

I actually enjoy Christmas but that is because I do not harbor any institutional-religio, coprporate notions of it, the seasons and times speak for themselves, they do not need advertising!.

Merry Christmas Ben to you and family (and HPANWO Viewers) x

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Thanks, X. Merry Christmas to you and yours too :-) I find the story of the 1914 truce so moving because it's a sign of humanity in a historical even that was more devoid of it than any other. The way the church took over the Winter Solstice is something I only came across long after I began celebrating Christmas. How strange