Provided by World Now
World War I combat began in August of 1914. By winter, the battle in Belgium had bogged down. Soldiers on both sides were dug into defensive trenches, often separated by only a few dozen yards of no-man's land.
Then, on Christmas eve, German soldiers put small trees outside their trenches and decorated them with candles as they sang carols. Signs, written in English, invited the opposing British and French troops to stop fighting to mark the holiday. British solders responded with "Merry Christmas" signs of their own. (The U. S. did not enter the war until 1917.)
For a day, peace broke out. The truce was spontaneous; some officers actively discouraged it. But in many places, troops met in no-man's land, exchanging handshakes and greetings with enemy soldiers.
When Christmas ended, so did the truce. There would not be another Christmas truce during the war.
To learn more, read Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, a book by military historian Stanley Weintraub.