Christmas Day at Bok Tower Gardens will certainly be a very memorable experience for everyone in attendance.
In addition to complimentary Holiday Home Tours of Pinewood Estate for the first 1,000 visitors, Gardens carillonneur Geert D’hollander will share his 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. performances with a very special guest. For the first time, D’hollander’s 9-year-old daughter, Rosalie, will join her father in the Tower’s playing cabin to perform a heartfelt duet of “Silent Night.”
100th Anniversary of the 1914 First World War Christmas Truce
On Christmas Eve 1914, as darkness descended upon a brutal landscape of trenches, barbed wire, and broken earth, music and songs suddenly replaced the deadly din of bullets and shells along the Western Front. The sound of carols rising from the German lines prompted curious British, Belgian and French soldiers to raise their heads above the parapet. In the distance, they could see the glow of candles on small Christmas trees. Germans were also seen peering back. No shots were fired. Tantalizingly, some soldiers raised their heads higher. The men exchanged salutations. Enemies inched closer and eventually met. They shook hands, agreeing a truce for the following day.
On Christmas morning they met again. They held joint religious services and helped to bury each other’s dead. Throughout the day, they shared tea and coffee, wine, beer, cognac, chocolate, and food sent from home. They swapped cap badges and buttons, and showed
one another photographs of their families and loved ones. They even posed for photographs together. British historian Piers Brendon called it “the most extraordinary celebration of Christmas since those notable goings-on in Bethlehem.”
Worldwide Carillon Concert Celebration
To recall this remarkable moment of hope and humanity, a worldwide carillon concert will be staged which will begin on the Peace Carillon in Messines, Belgium. Messines was at the heart of the 1914 Christmas Truce and is increasingly being recognized as the “City of the Christmas Truce.”
Messines Peace Carillon is a collection of bells, donated from all over the world, appealing for peace every day, and is due to undergo a major refurbishment during the next four years. Don Mullan, Irish author and Associate Chair of UNESCO’s Global Youth Program, is the originator of the Christmas Truce Commemoration and the Flanders Peace Field Project, currently being developed in Messines. Mullan presented the idea of the Christmas Truce Commemoration last summer at the 2014 Congress of the World Carillon Federation in Antwerp, Flanders. The Royal Carillon School “Jef Denyn”, Mechelen (Belgium) agreed to support the idea of the commemoration and to send an invitation to all carillonneurs worldwide.
The Peace Carillon at Messines will play at 19:14 hrs on Christmas Eve, beginning with “Silent Night – Stille Nacht,” a Christmas Carol sung simultaneously in three languages during the 1914 Christmas Truce.
Carillonneurs across the globe will join the celebration of the centenary of the Christmas Truce by performing on the 24th or 25th of December the famous Christmas song “Silent Night.” Carillonneurs in Belgium, France, Ireland, Japan and the USA have agreed to participate, including Geert D’hollander and his 9-year-old daughter, Rosalie.
A very special moment, indeed.