The “Christmas truce” is a term used to describe a series of unofficial cessations of hostilities that occurred along the Western Front during Christmas 1914. World War One had been raging for several months but German and Allied soldiers stepped out of their trenches, shook hands and agreed a truce so the dead could be buried. The soldiers also used that truce to chat with one another and, some claim, even play a football match. Unofficial truces between opposing forces occurred at other times during World War One but never on the scale of that first Christmas truce.
You’d think an event such as this would be widely celebrated in media a hundred years later. So where’s the celebration?
The Royal Guardsmen's Snoopy's Christmas is the best song that's really about the WWI Christmas truce.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) December 24, 2014
Which it is, and it came out in 1967, almost half a century ago. The writers — producing team Hugo & Luigi, and lyricist George David Weiss, also known for ginning up an English lyric to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” at the behest of H&L — made this fit into the existing Snoopy vs. the Red Baron template with the greatest of ease. Billboard scorned it, as it did all Christmas songs in those days, but it made the Top Ten in rival Cashbox.
That said, there are some commemorations, though inevitably this one drew my attention:
In 2014 Gavin Marriott, a New Zealand member of The International Military Music Society and The Passchendaele Society, came up with an idea of commemorating the centenary of the historical origins of this song. It was promoted to play or sing “Snoopy’s Christmas” before Christmas dinner in people’s homes in honour of an event which could have changed the world. A reading has been suggested for people in conjunction with the playing of this song. As an alternative he suggested people could sing “Silent Night” … “This song reminds us before our Christmas feast, that a century ago today, soldiers, as depicted in this song, lay down their arms in Flanders Belgium for a truce, in the spirit of the Christmas we now all enjoy today. If allowed to continue, this truce could have meant 100,000 New Zealanders not going to war and there may not be 18,000 of those not returning. This song reminds us of the sacrifice of those that did go, so we can enjoy this song, this day a century on and our Christmas feast.”
“Snoopy’s Christmas” was even more popular in New Zealand than in the States, charting several times in the 1980s and again in 2013. It does, however, have its detractors.