These soldiers were supposed to be enemies. They celebrated Christmas Eve 1914 together.

Trench warfare in World World I was brutal.

In 1914, the western front of the war had trenches where French and English soldiers awaited the next attack from the Germans (or vice versa) or simply wallowed in the frost and mud, biding time.

They were very close to each other in some areas — 60 to 80 yards, less than the length of a football field.


So close that the soldiers could hear each other cough.

And sing.

A barber in a French trench during World War I. Image by Bain News Service via Library of Congress.

The region between the men, past the barbed wire, was known as "no man's land," and it's where some of them met as humans rather than as enemies.

Early on in the war, there was some fraternization between the enemy lines, with soldiers from England and France meeting their enemies from Germany. They exchanged cigarettes, chocolate, and even whisky, learning more words of other languages from each other, sometimes tossing verbal jabs back and forth.

Eventually, some agreed to leave each other alone to get out of the trenches and exercise in the morning rather than shoot at each other.

Or to let each other have a breakfast without worrying about being shot at.

There were widespread calls for peace that holiday season, with even Pope Benedict XV on Dec. 7, 1914, asking for a Christmas truce, so "that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang."

Though Germany agreed to this, the other countries refused.


Der Weihnachtsfriede von 1914 (The Christmas Peace of 1914). Image via Imperial War Museums/Wikimedia Commons.

On Christmas Eve that year, what started off on some parts of the front lines as a temporary truce to collect and bury the dead eventually became an exchange between French and German troops of newspapers, cigarettes, and song.

Soon, many of the German soldiers put up tiny Christmas trees on the edges of their trenches — gifts from home — and lit them with candles.

Carols began to ring out, "O Tannenbaum" from the German side, which of course was "Oh, Christmas Tree" for the English. "Adeste Fideles" ("Oh Come, All Ye Faithful") followed.

The Illustrated London News's image of the Christmas Truce: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches." Image via The Illustrated London News/Wikimedia Commons.

Thereafter referred to as "The Christmas Truce," it spread to many sections of the western front and came to symbolize the concept that many soldiers had that this war was not something they'd chosen to fight in and that these men were not people they really wanted to shoot at and would perhaps rather be celebrating with.

In fact, as they got to know each other better, you can imagine them wondering who was in their sights when they pulled the trigger.

Was it someone they were just sharing a chocolate bar with the previous day, after learning about their family back home?

Christmas Truce, 1914. Image via Imperial War Museums/Wikimedia Commons.

In some places up and down the lines, the truce lasted until New Year's Day.

Eventually, the high command on both sides, hearing of the troops that had met on Christmas Eve of 1914, issued orders for such things to cease.

And indeed, just a few years later, the war had become so brutal and the casualties so frequent, this kind of fraternization no longer happened. It was as if a silent shroud had descended between the men that turned them into something other than what they were that night — fellow human beings, very much alike.

Immortalized in the John McCutcheon song, "Christmas in the Trenches," the event has inspired many to rethink why we do what we do to each other as human beings when we fight in wars. Featuring the fictional "Francis Tolliver" but based on the true story of The Christmas Truce, the closing lyrics of the song sum it up nicely:

"My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell,
Each Christmas come since World War I I've learned its lessons well,
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame,
And on each end of the rifle we're the same."


McCutcheon has actually talked to German soldiers who were there; they came to see him perform this song in Denmark in the 1990s and then met him backstage. Listen to him tell the story:

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.