How Folk Song 'Christmas In The Trenches' Memorializes A WWI Ceasefire

Dec 17, 2019

Atlanta-based folk musician and multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon has had a long career of writing and performing folk music all over the world. One of his songs, though, holds a special place in the canon of Christmas music.

“Christmas in the Trenches,” released in 1984 on the album Winter Solstice, tells the true story of the 1914 Christmas Truce, an unofficial ceasefire and celebration along the western front of World War I on Christmas Eve. Through the eyes of the fictional British soldier Francis Tolliver, McCutcheon weaves the story of the night soldiers came out of their trenches, exchanged souvenirs from home, and played a game of football.

McCutcheon joined On Second Thought to share the story of the song, the initial inspiration, and why he decided to make a children’s book based on the song.


“I think this is a story that children ought to grow up knowing,” McCutcheon said, “[The book] gave me an opportunity … to expand upon the context of all of this for those kids and those families for whom the book and or the song raised questions.”

McCutcheon will be performing at Eddie’s Attic on February 1, 2020. You can find more information about his music and tour dates at his website.

Get in touch with us.

Twitter: @OSTTalk

Facebook: OnSecondThought

Email: OnSecondThought@gpb.org

Phone: 404-500-9457