Before we leave 2014 and the centennial remembrance of the 1914 Christmas truces behind, and as we approach the Twelfth Night, here are some final words on the subject from former Irish president Mary McAleese.
A paper outlining moves towards a New Remembrance aimed at investing in peace-building rather than glorifying war-making has been published by the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, coinciding with commemorations of the fabled ‘Christmas Truces’.
At Christmas 1914, four months into World War One, British and German soldiers on the Western front laid down their weapons. They exchanged small gifts, sang carols, buried their dead, and some even kicked a football around.
Shortly after Christmas 1914, an order was issued by John French, the general in charge of the British troops on the Western Front. He had heard of the informal truces that had broken out along the front on Christmas Day. He ordered that such events must never be repeated. A year later, ahead of the following Christmas, soldiers were reminded that they would be charged with disobeying orders if there was another truce.