The British Newspaper Archive Newsletter: Christmas | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


BNA Newsletter 2 (December 2011): Christmas Stories from The British Newspaper Archive

Christmas Stories from the British Newspaper Archive

With Christmas Day nearly here, we thought we‘d gather together some Christmassy stories from the newspaper archive and post them on our Facebook page.

The Christmas Truce of 1914
The first batch of stories in our Christmas gallery is newspaper reports of the impromptu truce that took place on the Western Front on Christmas Day 1914. These stories are fascinating and offer the reader a real sense of what a unique and surreal episode this was.

From this collection of Christmas Truce stories, we especially like the tale about the football matches that took place in ‘no-man’s land’ – it was probably a case of jacket goalposts. We‘re still searching the archive to see if we can discover the final score of these games.

The story entitled, ’Our Friends The Enemy‘, however, is perhaps the report that offers the best description of these unreal events. The image of the German trenches as being ’ablaze with Christmas trees‘ is vivid, as is the German annoyance with the British for shooting at these ’sacred‘ trees on Christmas Eve! Also, the fact that the gruesome business of burying bodies continued while they exchanged Christmas gifts and pleasantries, is also an image that stays in one‘s mind.

One of these stories also mentions that photographs were taken of the fraternising in ‘no-man’s land’. If anyone has copies of these photos, then it‘d be great if you could post them on Facebook.

Charles Dickens and the Victorian Reinvention of Christmas
Just like Mr Micawber with his ’temporary pecuniary liabilities‘, we‘d been hoping that a Dickens bi-centenary might turn up some time soon. So as a wee prelude to all the celebrations that are due to start in 2012, we‘ve looked out some newspaper stories about how ’Boz‘ established Christmas as a joyful tradition in the UK in the Victorian era, through his campaigning and the writing of ’A Christmas Carol‘ in 1843 and other Christmas tales.

A Gallimaufry of Other Christmas Stories from the Archive
Completing our gallery of Christmas stories are various strange, quirky and interesting Yuletide tales, including a lyrical Victorian eulogy on the Christmas Pudding, Christmas ghosts, recipes, a report on how Father Christmas became part of the festive season, and a ‘shaggy dog’s tale’ about how a burglar was caught as the result of the cooking of a Christmas pudding. We hope you enjoy reading all these stories.

Season’s Greetings
We thank you for your support in 2011, and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Best wishes
The British Newspaper Archive team

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