Thursday, December 10, 2020

Christmas quotes: The Christmas Miracle

When I read this book earlier this year, I learnt a number of things about champagne making, and about people living in the champagne caves during WWI. 

In this quote a soldier is to his marriane  (which translates to godmother) but in this case were people who wrote to soldiers in the trenches, even though they had never met.

Here is an excerpt from one of his letters in January 1915 telling a story that is quite well known now, but still moving

I hope you will not think badly of me when I tell you that despite the dreadfulness that fills my daily existence, there are moments of strange and glorious beauty. I seize upon them eagerly: a startlingly clear night, the stars twinkling and beckoning with their immaculate shine, untouched by the terror  of bullets and shells, safe even from the poison gases.
A violent bombardment that leaves everyone shaken, yet somehow, miraculously, alive.
Or the Christmas Eve miracle - have you heard of it?
Truthfully, I don't know whether or not to believe sit actually happened, but I choose to. It is too wonderful a story not to. It was told to us by a medic who claimed he witnessed it firsthand.
This is the way he told the story:
Those of us who live in the trenches are at times only a few meters - or less - from the enemy ensconced  in their own pits. When it is quiet, we sometimes speak to one another, or even barter for small items such as cigarettes. We are young men trying to stay alive, and when the enemy shows his human face, we are reminded that we used to be neighbors, relatives, fellow farmers, and merchants.
So, on Christmas Eve, while in his trench, a British soldier began to sing "Silent Night," his sonorous voice filling the quiet void. You many know, my dear marraine, that this is a song originally written in German. Other soldiers joined in, and when they finished, the Germans answered in kind,singing "Stille Nacht" in the original German. From then on the singing continued, and as darkness fell, candles were lit along the line. Some say there were even some gifts exchanged, and an informal cease-fire allowed each side to collect their dead from No Man's Land in peace.
So, there  you have it. A brief break in the fighting, in recognition of our shared humanity. I imagine the officers in charge wouldn't like the idea  of us seeing such humanity in our foes.
And when the night was over, the slaughter recommenced.


  1. This was such a good book and it's thanks to you that I read it.

  2. I find this story about the singing, and then the slaughter, unbearable to think about...

  3. You have been highlightiing books I want, my chief enabler at the book store!! Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. This sounds like a book I should read, thanks for the heads up.