Object of the Fortnight – Christmas Themed Objects
The blog this week is going to focus on a selection of objects that highlight the theme of peace at Christmas time as we approach the festive season.
This year has been a significant one for the commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War and this is a theme that has been well-documented and commented on in the media. One of the most talked about events of the First World War at the moment is the Christmas truce that occurred in December 1914 across various trenches throughout Europe, which is an important story of hope and friendship that emerged from War in 1914.
The Christmas Truce
In 1914, the thousands of British boys and men joined the war to fight for ‘King and Country’. It was hoped that the war would be decisive; thus families should not worry for their loved ones as the war would be ‘over by Christmas’. However, by December 1914 the War was far from over. Soldiers were fighting in trenches, facing terrible disease-ridden conditions and were subjected to awful sights, such as seeing friends and comrades killed in battle.
In the months leading to Christmas in 1914, war-weariness in the trenches had greatly increased as soldiers grew tired of the war and wanted to return to their families. Yet despite this growing resentment, on 24th December ‘no man’s land’ became transformed into a theatre for peace and friendship. On some parts of the front line, gun fire stopped and an eerie silence descended. On the German side of the trenches, miniature Christmas trees with candles began to appear and singing could be heard. Then, greetings and carols were shouted to both sides of ‘no man’s land’ and small tokens were swapped amongst soldiers. One of the soldiers produced a football, and the boys and men were united in sport and played a lively game in ‘no man’s land’.
However sadly, the Christmas truce did not last long. After this short interlude of friendship, sportsmanship and hope, the war continued and was not to end until 1918.
We have a variety of objects in our collection which highlight the themes of peace and hope at Christmas time. The first is a Christmas cards sent from the soldier, William Howard in 1915. Within the card, it has a picture of the Dardanelles Landing and a message of well wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
The second object is another Christmas card sent from a RAF soldier named John S. Davis. Although the date of the card is unknown, it again highlights the themes of peace and hope that Christmas brought to soldiers fighting in the Second World War. Inside the card, David writes a poem to his family, and sends good wishes for the festive period
Along with the First World War objects, we also have many modern items in our collection that relate to Christmas. One is a badge that has a picture of Father Christmas in the centre, and states ‘Father Christmas against Cruise’. This was worn by protestors against the use of missiles and nuclear weapons, an effective use of Santa Claus to spread a message of peace.
We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Peace Museum Team.