Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Christmas Truce and a Christmas War

I haven’t taken my Christmas lights down.
They look so nice on the pumpkin.
- Winston Spear

A protest I can get behind . . .

I suppose you could say
'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy New Year,'
but you probably have sh*t to do.
- Jon Stewart, on Bill O'Reilly's objection to "Happy Holidays"

Along with eliminating the the full frontal assault of the War on Christmas brigade . . .   

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season,
a deeply religious time that each of us observes,
in his own way,
by going to the mall of his choice.
- Dave Barry

and excessive cheer and joy . . . 

Enforcing Christmas one city at a time

on general principle alone. 

Santa being arrested at a Walmart protest.

If you're going Black Friday shopping tomorrow, 
be a decent human being and turn your phone horizontal before you record any fights 
- Bdell1014

A worthy protest of Christmas excess, with one exception . . . 

Royal Artillery man delivering Christmas gifts on the Western Front

WWI was primarily fought in trenches making combat long term and in close quarters.
No Man's Land between trenches could be narrow enough that the solders heard the daily activities of the other side and an unintended consequence was the evolution of a quasi camaraderie between enemies.

No Man's Land
At the time it wasn't uncommon to be familiar with terms and phrases in other languages and greetings or requests for news were shouted back and forth. An agreement to allow retrieval of the dead for burial led to further interactions including an occasional exchanged of chocolate and cigarettes. In areas, informal arrangements developed including agreements not to shoot each other during morning exercises or while eating breakfast.

A Christmas Greeting from the Front

Late in 1914 there was a call for peace over the holidays. "[So that] the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang." - Pope Benedict XV.

German soldiers celebrate Christmas 

Along the Western Front, German troops started decorating their trenches with Christmas trees and candles. Eventually soldiers in the opposing trenches sang carols to each other and Christmas wishes were called back and forth. 

The Daily Mirror reports on the Christmas Truce

Good will extended to excursions into No Man's Land where small gifts were exchanged and in some areas joint services were held. 

Captain Bruce Bairnsfather 

"I wouldn't have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. ... I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. ... I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange. ... The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck." - Bruce Bairnsfather, British Capitan 

British and German soldiers at Ploegsteert, near Ypres, during Christmas, 1914

"[The English] brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued. How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was." - Leutnant Kurt Zehmisch of Germany's 134th Saxons Infantry Regiment

A German and British Soldier share a light

"In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British and Germans met and shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, and exchanged souvenirs. . . . Marvellous, isn't it?" - Henry Williamson, nineteen-year-old private in the London Rifle Brigade, letter to his mother. 

British and German soldiers meeting in No Man's Land during the Christmas Truce of 1914

"Friday (Christmas Day). We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. . . . The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting 'Merry Christmas, Englishmen' to us. Of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man's land between the lines. Here the agreement – all on their own – came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight." - Captain Robert Patrick Miles, King's Shropshire Light Infantry. 

He was killed in action on December 30, 1914

A soldier with two turkeys walking through the snow 
at Hesdin, Pas-de-Calais department in northern France, 
Dec. 22, 1917
After 1914, strongly worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibited fraternization and eliminating widespread good will.

The Duke Library Christmas tree

Returning to the current discussion of Holiday gluttony . . . 

Zen Christmas: the gift of nothingness

I'm in favor of reasonable participation, 

The Flying Spaghetti Monster in Christmas lights.

as long as I have Xanax at hand. 

However, anytime Christmas observance leads to wartime peace, I am for a Cheney-esque budget and a 12 month observation period.

Check out historical photos made even more awesome by colorization.  This guy has talent!

Read more about the Christmas Truce.

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