December 1914 was just a few short months after the start of the war and the Germans and the Allies had fought themselves to a stalemate. This was the beginning of the long period of trench warfare that would come to characterize World War I. No one quite knows how or why but on that Christmas Day, 100,000 combatants voluntarily stopped the carnage for a few short hours.
It started slowly on Christmas Eve with British and German soldiers singing carols and tossing gifts across the lines. On Christmas morning a group of unarmed Germans crossed No-Man's Land to exchange greetings with their enemy. Soon British soldiers left their trenches to mingle with the Germans. Small gifts were exchanged and their are stories of football matches between the Germans and the British soldiers. Both sides to the opportunity to recover and bury the dead and there are stories of joint services.
The truce did not occur everywhere. Fighting still took place in some sectors. And, of course, senior officers were livid. In the future, units would be rotated along the front and artillery barrages would be scheduled on Christmas to prevent future fraternization.
World War I would go on to become one of the most horrible experiences in human history and as the war went on there were fewer and fewer instances of fraternization. It's hard to see an enemy who uses mustard gas and machine guns as human.
But for one brief moment in 1914, it did happen and will forever stand as testimony to the basic humanity in all of us.
May you enjoy the best of holidays and a most prosperous new year!