One hundred years ago this week the First World War experienced a spontaneous Christmas Truce.
Combatants along a stretch of the Western Front left the trenches, laid down their arms and met as people on common ground that had been no man’s land, and would soon be again.
Against orders, these men of shared European ancestry, faith, and traditions brought some humanity into what proved the most profane and savage warfare the world had ever seen. Many who took part in the Christmas Truce didn’t live to see another yuletide. But many others did live to write about it and tell their grandchildren about it face to face.
Approximate position of the front line is in black
Much has been written about the famous Christmas Truce of 1914, so I will simply recommend the following websites:
This first site is dedicated to a British soldier from Scotland, created by a decedent, and it has a very nice post related specifically to the Christmas Truce. The solider, John Minnery saw considerable action, yet survived the war and other military operations that followed it.
And here is a site created specifically around the Christmas Truce and its commemoration and lots of interesting personal accounts, from both sides, and details about the legendary football match, which broke out between some of the soldiery. It also has some good links for further reading
Someone over at the Unofficial Martin Guitar forum posted a link to the fabulous site Euratalas.com whence comes the latest Monday Map, showing Europe’s political situation in the year 1 A.D.
This cool map and the one below are found in a section entitled History of Europe, featuring similar maps from every hundred years since Year 1.
This is just one part of a site that is wonderfully immersive and educational. In addition to maps of Europe, including those from antiquity, there is a section on world history, North America, the Middle East, and so on. There is also a shopping section where various maps and other items are available for sale!
As I walked home in the darkening afternoon, along the stone-face grumps and grinches clutching their collars against the mean and petty snow sent sideways by a bickering wind, I saw a girl of 8 and her baby sister gleefully skipping along trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues, and laughing like little glowing lamps.
I think the reason Christmas has always mattered to so many who have no particular connection to the mishmash of ancient mythologies that led to it is specifically because December is so deep and dark, as Paul Simon put it. It can be an infusion of cheer and bright lights when they are needed most.
And that bit about good will to all peoples is pretty great too. And that will have extra poignancy as we mark the 100th anniversary of the impromptu “Christmas truce” along the trenches in 1914.
The language groups of indigenous North Americans shifted location during the advances of European settlers.
Many of the tribes thought of as the Plains Indians didn’t populate that part of the continent until they migrated there after their ancestral lands were encroached upon. Native American languages tied far flung bands together.
So some of this map of Native American language groups is based on modern locations and general whereabouts during the era of expansion after the American Revolution.
Compare this map to a previous Monday Map, the pre-1810 map drawn by Lewis and Clark, which includes many Native American bands, in the areas where they were encountered.