World War I (WWI) lasted four years between 1914 and 1918 and is widely regarded as a horrible and the most purposeless war than any before or after it.

Over 25 million people were killed or wounded due to advances in military technology, innovations in machine guns, grenades, and artillery, and the introduction of submarines, poison gas, and tanks.

Yet, while the war had its fair share of bloodshed, there were also moments of joy and magic.

One such occasion was in the trenches of Flanders and France, where a Christmas Truce occurred the first Christmas of the war.

During this time, men from both sides laid down their weapons and came together in no man’s land to share food, carols, and games, leaving behind their trenches.

Men who witnessed the miraculous Christmas Truce would remember until the end of the war in 1918, even with the heavy losses that occurred on both sides.

10 /10 The Beginning Of The Truce

The beginning of the truce started at 8:30 pm in 1914. German troops began to light up their trenches, sing songs, and wish the opposing forces a Merry Christmas.

Both sides soon began to exchange pleasantries, keeping military precautions in place. Both sides soon joined in, with the Germans singing “Silent Night and the British with “The First Noel.”

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9 /10 Meeting In The Middle

The men from opposing sides soon met in no man’s land, with scouts venturing into the wasteland between the trenches first.

There were also shots of alcohol exchanged, cigars, and messages of a ceasefire, where both parties agreed to not fire at each other. This friendship was a Christmas story that the men needed after fighting for so long in the trenches.

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8 /10 Spread Of The Truce

The truce was said to have popped up at other locations as well. That same night, other sites also reported the Germans beginning to sing, calling the English to join them.

For a while, the officers ordered their men to be silent. However, up and down the trenches, the men heard a Christmas greeting from the enemy, and a Merry Christmas was soon exchanged from one side to the other.

Conversations were soon struck up, and songs were exchanged as dawn approached. Musical instruments were also used to accompany carols, laughter was had, and not a single shot was fired.

7 /10 Rise Of The Christmas Truce

The Christmas Truce occurred for a couple of reasons. First, by December 1914, many of the men in the trenches were veterans who had lost the idealism of war. Instead, they longed for the war and bloodshed to stop.

They also thought the war would be over by Christmas, but they were still fighting in the med and cold by Christmas week.

Second, on Christmas Eve, a complex, sudden frost popped up after a long period of wet weather. The presence of ice and snow made soldiers on both sides feel that something magical was taking place.

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6 /10 Size Of The Truce

How many men were involved in the truce and how widespread it was are unknown.

However, there are accounts of fighting still occurring through the Christmas season in some locations, and men meeting each other to the sound of gunfire nearby.

Many of the men involved in the Christmas Truce are thought to be Saxon troops, who were easy-going and would likely have approached the British first.

The truce is believed to have taken place at least 2/3 of the British-held trenches along with southern Belgium.

5 /10 German And British Truce Only

The Christmas Truce was held only between the British and German troops on the Western Front.

On the Eastern Front, Russian troops followed the old Julian calendar in 1914, so Christmas was not until January 7th.

The French were also more sensitive to their allies, as the Germans occupied over a third of France and ruled over the citizens with an iron fist.

4 /10 German's Olive Branch

In the British-held trench lines, they noticed the Germans had placed small Christmas trees along the front of their trenches at dawn.

Men from both sides slowly headed towards no man’s land, venturing around the barbed wire that separated them. At one point, hundreds of men were soon out there shaking hands and getting along.

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3 /10 Issues With Communication

Communication was also tricky between the soldiers as British troops who spoke German were hard to come by.

The saving grace ended up being German soldiers who had worked in Britain before the war, frequently in restaurants.

The men who communicate even became friends, exchanging gifts and reminiscing about their lives and jobs before the war.

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2 /10 Sharing Common Interests

Football was played professionally in Britain for a quarter of a century by 1914 and since the 1890s in Germany. While few men could share memories of London, one common denominator was the love of “football” and soccer.

Due to this love, British and German soldiers soon kicked about a ball, with a match even occurring. The Germans claimed to win this match 3-2.

There is also evidence of soccer-playing played on Christmas Day, primarily with men of the same nationality and between the two sides in at least 3 or 4 locations.

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1 /10 End Of The Truce And Resuming Of Fighting

The truce ended as men returned to their trenches by dusk. The men were summoned back by flares in some cases, but some had lasting peace through midnight. Singing and present exchanging occurred in more than one location.

Fighting began the next day again, but some regions had vacation through the New Year. Mutual respect was seen between the enemies, with sides bowing and saluting to one another more than once across the trenches.

While there was no further truce until the armistice in November 1918, the Christmas Truce had a lasting impact on the thousands of men who celebrated, though not all of them survived the war.

Additionally, both sides took action to prevent the truce from happening again.

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