Today 90 years ago: Christmas Truce
The so-called "Christmas truce" began on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1914, during World War I, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium for Christmas. They began by placing candles on trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British troops in the trenches across from them responded by singing English carols.
The two sides continued by shouting holiday greetings to each other. Soon, there were calls for visits across the "No Man's Land", where small gifts were exchanged — whiskey, cigars, and the like. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Proper burials took place as soldiers from both sides mourned the dead together and paid their respect.
The truce spread to other areas of the lines, and there is a perhaps apocryphal story of a football match between the opposing forces, which ended when the ball struck a strand of barbed wire and deflated.
In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but in some areas, it continued until New Year's Day.