Monday, December 25, 2006

Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht - All is calm, all is bright.

It's Christmas Eve and my mother is busy organising Heilige Abend with the family in Germany. Heilige Abend or Holy Evening is the time when the German Speaking world opens presents and families get together.


I prefer the term Helige Abend to Christmas Eve because I think of the German version of "Silent Night" - the translation of Silent Night, Holy Night, reads like the TS Eliot (At least I think it was TS who wrote the poetic description) of the night that the British and Germans faced each other in the trenches of the First World War.


As legend has it, the British Troops were in their trenches celebrating Christmas, singing Silent Night. Suddenly they heard the same tune being sung in German. Troops from both sides crossed "No Man's Land" and celebrated Christmas together. Of course, they went back to killing each other, but at least they had a moment of peace and harmony together in a time when people were focused on killing each other.


It's not much to talk about in the modern world of fast-pace, grab all you can culture that we have today. But in a time when people were at war, every single moment of peace was precious and I think this is something that's worth remembering. As long as we have peace, we don't appreciate it. But if we were from a culture where killing was the norm, each moment of peace would be something we'd hold onto for life.


And it was Christmas, the Silent Night that brought people who were killing each other to stop killing and come together in peace and harmony. For that, I think the power of the Silent Night is something worth celebrating every year,

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