Question & Story 8th Day Christmas Past

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Christmas Past 2013 | 7 comments

PrintQuestion 8th Day Christmas Past:  What did Pres. Spencer W. Kimball witness in the trenches on Christmas during the World War?  Did any of our war veterans witness anything like this?

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President Spencer W. Kimball, before he ever became an apostle, related a Christmas story to Primary children about World War I. He said: “One Christmas during the World War, when no-man’s land between the trenches was white with snow, the troops in a certain ‘quiet sector’ began to exchange holiday greetings by means of crudely painted signs. A few minutes later, men who spoke German and men who spoke English were climbing from their trenches without guns and meeting on neutral ground to shake hands and exchange souvenirs, unmindful of war . . . Friends they were, not enemies, this Christmas day.”

Then, after becoming an apostle, he returned to the theme, writing in a Christmas pamphlet that Christmas “transcends the individual, the family, the community, the nation; it approaches the universal, crosses borders, and touches many nations of the earth. Our caroling voices sing the sweet songs of Christmas reminiscent somewhat of the host of heavenly angelic voices in the long ago, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ “. (Teachings, p. 246.)

Christmas, indeed, is the one time of the year when peace seems to be taken seriously. Despite the commercialism of the season, it truly transcends not only national borders, but also the borders of time, feelings and minds. Look at the ritual and customs that surround Christmas. From Druid gatherers of mistletoe to St. Nicholas who lived in Russia, Christmas has accumulated legends and rituals from throughout the world. There’s only one reason for such an amazing display of human goodness: the reason why Christmas is commemorated at all. If it did not have Christ at its center, it would long ago have vanished along with other ancient holidays.

The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 419 & 246.
The Prince of Peace , LDS Church News, 1995, 12/23/95 .

    7 Comments

  1. President Kimball experienced the now famous Christmas truce during WWI where enemies forgot the war for one day and thought of each other as friends not enemies. I wish more history classes would remember to teach the kindnesses that could happen during horrible events, not just church leaders reminding us.

  2. I love hearing about that World War I Christmas and I am grateful President Kimball shared that story with the children. A couple of years ago we watched the movie “Joyeux Noel” which tells the story of the Christmas truce in 1914. The movie was made in France and the parts are spoken in French, German and English (with a lovely Scottish accent) with subtitles. We loved it! (Available in Salt Lake County library system)

  3. One Christmas during World War I, there was a feeling of unity as both English and German speaking servicemen joined in exchanging Christmas greetings with one another. Christmas is a time when the whole world seems to come together in love, service, peace, and compassion. These feelings come as we focus on our Savior’s birth and subsequent mission of love for everyone.

  4. The love Christmas brings even among enemies and strangers even in war.

  5. Even during times of war, the spirit of Christmas can foster peace and unity as these enemy soldiers experienced in WW1.

  6. During WWI, President Kimball and the enemy German soldiers united in friendship and exchanged hand shakes, souvenirs and forgot about war for a few minutes. I have heard stories of this kind of thing happening at other times also. It is a beautiful time of year to celebrate peace.

  7. The Peace Christmas brings to the world during War times is wonderful. Amazing story of the peace and fellowship they had in the trenches that Christmas. It makes me feel like I wish we could have Christmas every day of the year. It makes me realize how hard it is for the soldiers. They have to protect their selves, be killed or kill. And we have to love everyone.

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