Not a Silent Night but a Holy Night; Christmas in the Trenches

In a nightmare landscape of No Man’s Land outlined by narrow trenches a miracle took place on Christmas Eve 1914. So is the setting of one of my favorite Christmas stories, Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon.  McCutcheon came across the story as he was touring in Belgium. Although the main character, Francis Tolliver, a British soldier from Liverpool, is fictional, the event is based on fact. On the eve of Christmas German soldiers lighted candles on make-shift Christmas trees and began singing, Stille Nacht, Helige Nacht. The British soldiers answered with The First Nowell.  Back and forth the singing continued. In a few places soldiers from both sides got out of the trenches and walked to greet each other. They shook hands, exchanged tins of food, shared pictures, and even a game of ball was played. This particular version of the story is appropriate for primary children. Do not miss the author’s notes in the back. There are also several You Tube videos. I’ve included one that I thought was powerful. Comments to this video will pull at your heart-strings.  Have a Merry Christmas and may it be blessed!

Older children and adults would find Jim Murphy’s Truce and Russell Freedman’s The War to End All Wars interesting, schema building reads. I have a greater understanding of World War I, the war that could have been avoided. Do we learn lessons from the past?

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2 Responses to Not a Silent Night but a Holy Night; Christmas in the Trenches

  1. Ruth says:

    A favorite of mine too. So glad you shared it at our workshop. Merry Christmas, my friend. 🙂

  2. the other Ruth says:

    I am not familiar with these titles–thank you for sharing them! I am enjoying your blog so much and am glad you took the plunge. Keep at it–I’ll be reading!

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