I am pleased to be part of Rhonda Parrish's Giftmas Blog Tour. She has brought together a couple of dozen bloggers, and today I'm hosting a blog from Rebecca Gibson, an author of a novel set during the First World War. I know you'll enjoy what she has to share . . . and be sure to check out the links below, because Rhonda has lined up some great raffle prizes!
With the world in its current state of turmoil, war is not far from people's minds. Even at the joyful time of Christmas.
We're supposed to be curling our toes in anticipation, erecting trees and getting red nosed as we rush shop to shop. We're not supposed to be scared.
However, that's exactly what countless young men have been throughout history.
Whilst Christmas will bring the western world to a halt, the one day we allow ourselves to relax and spend time with our loved ones, war stops for no festival. Except for the one occasion where it did.
December 25th 1914, four months after the commencement of the First World War, saw undeniably the most famous truce in history. While there were a few small truces throughout the First World War, all unplanned, all certainly not condoned by the war office, Christmas 1914 is the one that went down in history.
A lot of us will know the Christmas truce by the famous picture of soldiers playing football, although there was actually no evidence this happened. The picture we all think of was in fact taken behind the lines. Personally though, I imagine no group of Englishmen could resist playing football for too long, given a belly full of beer and an open space.
What we know for certain is that the guns fell silent and both sides met in no man's land to pass on their good wishes.
The truce in fact began on Christmas Eve, with the singing of carols. It's possibly the most festive image a mind can conjure. Huddled in their retrospective trenches, they became united in merriment, for once laying aside their rifles in place of song (how romantic!).
Christmas day was when the famous meetings took place. Although the main purpose of their meeting was to celebrate the festivities, the dead could not be forgotten for long. Each side took their own time to bury their dead and to make any repair work they could to their trenches.
Following Christmas day, neither side aware they had just made history, they couldn't bring themselves to resume the fighting. The guns remained silent for days – both sides had humanised the other, they were no longer a faceless enemy.
Having said this, Christmas wasn't all dandy for everyone. There were still people killed on Christmas day and there was still fighting in some places. We'll never know exactly how much of the line fell silent. We must only rely on the small amount of diary entries and letters that have survived the turbulent years of war.
For those who had taken part in the truce, no-one wanted to be the first to fire. When it appeared some stretches of the line would not pick up their guns and resume their duties, the higher authorities got involved. Companies were moved back behind the lines so new, desensitised soldiers could take their place.
Thus, the war continued for another four years.
There weren't any more major truces in the First World War, through fear of being Court Martialled, yet this famous truce holds as a humbling reminder of so many things we take for granted. As we all settle beside our crackling fires, bellies bursting full of turkey, we can think that even in the hardest of times, some joy can always be found at Christmas.
If you're interested in the First World War, or would like to be, turns out I wrote a book about it…what a coincidence! You can check it out here: http://amzn.to/1MDKJwT
The fun doesn't end there, if you're feeling lucky this festive season, check out the Giftmas raffle prizes here: http://bit.ly/1jkpUfa.