Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas Truce (and Christmas Gifts)

"An Historic Group" (Image source)

I still distinctly remember learning about World War I at school.  I would sit in class blinking back tears as we heard about the sheer numbers of lives lost, often due to the sheer stupidity of the military powers, and as we read personal accounts from people on the front and those left at home to wait and wonder.  The third battle of Ypres, otherwise known as the Battle of Passchendaele, is well known as being one of the bloodiest battles of the war.  But Ypres is also the place where one of the most beautiful and affirming events of World War I occurred - that is, the Christmas Truce of 1914.  

Thousands of British and German troops were involved in an unofficial truce beginning on Christmas Eve that year.  It reportedly started with the Germans lighting candles, singing and calling out Christmas greetings to the British soldiers.  The British soldiers begun to respond and eventually troops from both sides emerged from their trenches and crossed No Man's Land to exchange gifts with one another.  It's such a wonderful story, a perfect Christmas message of peace and humanity and trust and vulnerability.

Here's a lovely wee website where you can read transcripts of some of the letters from people who were involved in the truce.

And if you're stuck for Christmas gift ideas, there's a sweet-looking book about it at the Imperial War Museum shop.  

They've got a whole selection of nice things, in fact, including lots of vintage-inspired items, prints and books.  And, as a bonus, you'll be supporting them if you buy from there.  Which means they can continue to grow their museum collection and educate people about the historic and continuing impacts of war on society and individuals everywhere.

Here's an idea of some of the things they have on offer:

This book sounds really interesting too:

Life in Britain changed dramatically as the war progressed; the annual celebration of Christmas provides fascinating yearly 'snapshots', illuminating the changes over six years of conflict.  What was the weather like? What was on the wireless? What were the popular records and sheet music of the time? What films were showing at the cinema? What about the pantomimes, shows and concerts? Parties, decorations and trees? Gifts and food are discussed with a look at the presents available, and in vogue. As shortages really took a hold, the various make-do-and-mend solutions are described, and insights are gained into how people adapted food recipes to cope.

Hope I've inspired you!  Either with goodwill towards man or gift ideas, or maybe even both!


  1. Oh, I've been wanting Make do and Mend for ages! This looks awesome.
    Would you like to follow eachother?
    ♥ Maria

  2. Thank you so much for sharing that Christmas Truce story! Definitely touched my heart. I'll be in London soon so I may be able to buy a copy or two of the book. I must pass on the story too. I'm so glad someone thought to take a photo of the gathering. Other books look interesting too. Also,I'd never have thought of buying lovely vintage things from a war museum.

  3. That story is amazing, i'm going to go read more! Plus i think i want EVERYTHING you posted, going to go stare at it all on the shop website too, gahh!

  4. Oh my, that tote bag is adorable! I love the font... so perfect.

    Aya ♥ Strawberry Koi

  5. What a wonderful Christmas story! I guess there is hope for mankind after all :-)

  6. Glad that everyone enjoyed the story... and the selection of things at the Imperial War Museum shop!

  7. This is a lovely story! I adore all the gifts here. Would you like to follow each other? X