Author Topic: The Power of God and Christmas  (Read 352 times)

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Offline MyrnaM

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The Power of God and Christmas
« on: December 23, 2017, 11:44:11 AM »
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  • I have always loved this story I desire to share here now THE Christmas Truce of 1914


    I think of it as THE POWER OF GOD!




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    First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

    The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.
    The phenomenon took different forms across the Western front. One account mentions a British soldier having his hair cut by his pre-war German barber; other talks of a pig roast. Several mention impromptu kick-abouts with makeshift soccer balls, although, contrary to popular legend, it seems unlikely that there were any organized matches.
    The truce was widespread but not universal. Evidence suggests that in many places firing continued — and in at least two a truce was attempted but soldiers attempting to fraternize were shot by opposing forces.
    And of course, it was only ever a truce, not peace. Hostilities returned, in some places later that day and in others not until after New Year’s Day. “I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence,” one veteran from the Fifth Batallion the Black Watch, Alfred Anderson, later recalled to The Observer. “It was a short peace in a terrible war.” As the Great War resumed, it wreaked such destruction and devastation that soldiers became hardened to the brutality of the war. While there were occasional moments of peace throughout the rest of World War I, they never again came on the scale of the Christmas truce in 1914.
    Yet for many at the time, the story of the Christmas truce was not an example of chivalry in the depths of war, but rather a tale of subversion: when the men on the ground decided they were not fighting the same war as their superiors. With no man’s land sometimes spanning just 100 feet, enemy troops were so close that they could hear each other and even smell their cooking. The commander of the British Second Corps, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, believed this proximity posed “the greatest danger” to the morale of soldiers and told Divisional Commanders to explicitly prohibit any “friendly intercourse with the enemy.” In a memo issued on Dec. 5, he warned that: “troops in trenches in close proximity to the enemy slide very easily, if permitted to do so, into a ‘live and let live’ theory of life.”
    Indeed, one British soldier, Murdoch M. Wood, speaking in 1930, said: “I then came to the conclusion that I have held very firmly ever since, that if we had been left to ourselves there would never have been another shot fired.” Adolf Hitler, then a Corporal of the 16th Bavarians, saw it differently: “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” he is said to have remarked. “Have you no German sense of honor?”
    Still, a century later, the truce has been remembered as a testament to the power of hope and humanity in a truly dark hour of history.It has been immortalized and fictionalized in children’s novels like Michael Foreman’s War Game, in films such as Joyeux Noel and Oh, What a Lovely War! and even in a controversial Christmas ad this year from Sainsbury’s, a British supermarket chain. To mark the centenary this year, Prince William unveiled a memorial on Dec. 12: a metal frame representing a soccer ball, with two hands clasped inside it, and a week later, inspired by the events of the truce, the British and German army soccer teams played a friendly match. And though the Christmas Truce may have been a one-off in the conflict, the fact that it remains so widely commemorated speaks to the fact that at its heart it symbolizes a very human desire for peace, no matter how fleeting.


    Offline Neil Obstat

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    Re: The Power of God and Christmas
    « Reply #1 on: December 24, 2017, 09:47:49 PM »
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    The part I like the best is everyone singing Adeste Fideles in Latin. It's my favorite Christmas carol.
    .
    I heard this Christmas truce mentioned by a secular radio program yesterday and he said nothing about the singing.
    .
    Interesting, eh? Cut out the religion!! (Even on Christmas. Ugh.)
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    Now it's MY turn to share!
    .
    .
    Today I went to a fast food restaurant after Mass
    and I saw the same group of Korean men and ladies that shows up Sundays there
    As they passed our table single-file, they eagerly greeted us with "Merry Christmas!" 
    The ladies had red sweaters and men red ties
    I thought, these guys have noticed we're Christian
    Probably because we make the sign of the cross before meals!
    .
    Anyway, I asked one of them, 
    "How do you say Merry Christmas in Korean?"
    He tried to ignore the question.
    But I insisted.
    Eventually he hesitatingly said, "It is difficult."
    I assured him I wanted to know anyway.
    He leaned over and seemed embarrassed to say this...
    Sung - tan - uul - chuka - Gambnida
    To show him I was listening, I repeated it.
    He was amazed, and smiled broadly.
    .
    He walked away saying "Merry Christmas"
    And I answered him with "Sung - tan - uul - chuka - Gambnida!"
    Then as soon as he was gone, I promptly forgot what he had taught me.
    .
    Later, the group of Koreans were still there, talking in their group,
    And so I went up to them and apologized for not remembering,
    But I begged them to tell me again, and this time I wrote it down.
    After they were finished explaining that they like to say "Merry Christmas"
    I told them, "Sung - tan - uul - chuka - Gambnida!"
    And they all nodded, smiled and chattered in Korean to each other.
    It really made them happy.
    .
    In fact, it was so much fun to do this, that after a while later
    during which time I had helped a friend with a car problem
    in the parking lot,
    the Korean men were still sitting at their round table
    and their ladies were seated at theirs.
    I know that Koreans are extremely formal with interaction with others
    and therefore I would not have approached the women's table
    and I only spoke to the men -- which they liked to see, I could tell.
    Therefore I walked up to their round table, pulled my note pad out
    and said to them, "Sung - tan - uul - chuka - Gambnida!"
    .
    They all smiled, nodded energetically, and repeated the words,
    Adding of course, "Merry Christmas" in their irrepressible and charming accent.
    .
    That was a lot of fun.
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    Offline Neil Obstat

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    Re: The Power of God and Christmas
    « Reply #2 on: December 24, 2017, 09:59:35 PM »
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    I was sitting here at my computer for an hour trying to remember what I wanted to say and finally I recalled that incident. It's been a busy day. So many things happening, but the little story of the Korean men at a round conference table is something others here might like to see -- especially if you can speak Korean. I have no idea what the words mean, except that the ending, "Gambnida" is the same ending used when they say "Thank you" in the formal level of social standing. There are at least three levels of formality in Korean, something that is hard for Americans to comprehend. "Gam - sa - habnida" is a formal "thank you." So it's a bit odd to me to see a very closely related ending to "Merry Christmas." What are they saying, "Merry Christmas, thank you?"
    .
    I had tried to find out about this but they had a hard time explaining it, even while they were impressed that I had noticed the nuance. Apparently there is a note of appreciation inherent in their "Merry Christmas" such that it might literally translate to something like "Merry Christmas, Praise the Lord" or, "Happy Christmas with respect" or some such thing.
    .
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    Offline Jaynek

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    Re: The Power of God and Christmas
    « Reply #3 on: December 25, 2017, 12:22:10 AM »
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    I was sitting here at my computer for an hour trying to remember what I wanted to say and finally I recalled that incident. It's been a busy day. So many things happening, but the little story of the Korean men at a round conference table is something others here might like to see -- especially if you can speak Korean. I have no idea what the words mean, except that the ending, "Gambnida" is the same ending used when they say "Thank you" in the formal level of social standing. There are at least three levels of formality in Korean, something that is hard for Americans to comprehend. "Gam - sa - habnida" is a formal "thank you." So it's a bit odd to me to see a very closely related ending to "Merry Christmas." What are they saying, "Merry Christmas, thank you?"
    .
    I had tried to find out about this but they had a hard time explaining it, even while they were impressed that I had noticed the nuance. Apparently there is a note of appreciation inherent in their "Merry Christmas" such that it might literally translate to something like "Merry Christmas, Praise the Lord" or, "Happy Christmas with respect" or some such thing.
    .
    I would be more sure if I saw written in Korean letters but I think it literally translates Sung - tan - uul  = holy birth (=Christmas) 
     chuka - Gambnida! = celebration/felicitations/congratulations + [formal ending]

    They also use the word "Christmas" directly borrowed from English.  The second part "chukahamnida" when used by itself means congratulations and is also used in the expression for birthday greetings.


     

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