Christmas Truce of 2015


by Natalie Yuhas

 

As embarrassing as this may be to admit, I’m extremely fascinated by World War I. It started when I signed up for a British short stories class my junior that made me think about the war in a different way. Not only was it extremely deadly due to industrial and technological innovations at the time, but there were also massive societal changes that happened during and after the war. There was not a person who didn’t feel its effects, whether they were on the battlefield or maintaining the homefront.

One particularly interesting moment from World War I is the Christmas Truce of 1914. On December 7, 1914 Pope Benedict XV proposed that the warring sides temporarily cease fire in honor of Christmas . While neither side came to an official agreement, British and German troops along the Western Front put down their guns in favor of singing Christmas carols, exchanging cigarettes and food, and playing soccer. Some soldiers took this opportunity to retrieve and bury soldiers. After this Christmas Truce of 1914, the soldiers returned to fighting and World War I lasted until 1918. This was the last time that anything of the sort happened during a war. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the truce this Advent season as it applies to 2015. Christmas has begun to feel less and less like Christmas every year to me, mostly because of how busy the end of the semester is with finals, and partly just from the loss of the general magic around it that comes with growing up. Advent is supposed to be a time of waiting and preparing yourself for the good to come, but I feel like I do just the opposite by locking myself in the library, not sleeping at all, and then rushing home just in time to celebrate with my family. The time leading up to Christmas is a stressful blur to not only college students, but also generally in a society where Christmas is so commercialized starting in October. While studying for finals is incredibly important and it is fun to shop and make Christmas plans, it shouldn’t feel like a warzone.

 

This December, I’m calling for another unofficial Christmas Truce: Slow down, take a break, close your laptop, and enjoy the season and the people you share it with. 

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