Christmas has a fascinating effect on people in all sorts of situations. The famous “Christmas Truce” in 1914 is one example. As Christmas Day dawned on the Western Front, just a few months into World War I, German and British soldiers, sitting in their trenches just 100 yards from each other, began to sing Christmas carols. In many places along that long front line, men on both sides began to slowly leave their positions and venture into no-man’s land to shake hands and swap food. It was an extraordinary thing to see in war, and in most places it didn’t last long. In other parts, no firing resumed until the New Year.
Some soldiers said afterwards that, if they had been left alone, no firing would ever have resumed; but military leaders were not happy with the fraternisation, and specifically forbade any further incidents of Christmas peace. By the following December, life and death had hardened attitudes on both sides, and no further attempts were made to repeat the 1914 event. But the very fact that it happened once, that Christmas tradition could overcome even in the midst of war, was an indication of how deeply the so-called Spirit of Christmas runs.