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Over by Christmas

A reflection on Christmas past and present

by Becky May

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider how Christmas this year may be different from what we expect, and how Christmas in 1914 was different, too.

Preparation and materials


  1. Welcome the children to the assembly and begin by asking how they are feeling today. Are they excited about Christmas? Which part of it are they most looking forward to?

  2. Explain that this Christmas may be quite different from what we’re used to. Perhaps there are things that we would normally do that we can’t this year, or perhaps we’ve discovered new ways to celebrate Christmas, new things that we can do with our friends and families.

  3. Remind the children that when coronavirus first emerged, we had no idea how long it would last. At first, we might have thought that life would be back to normal by the summer. Then, people started saying, ‘It will all be over by Christmas,’ and now . . . here we are!

  4. Explain that this isn’t the first time people have believed that something bad would be over by Christmas. For example, the First World War began in the summer of 1914. When the first soldiers left England for the battlefield, everyone said that it would all be over by Christmas. You can imagine how disappointed everyone was when this proved not to be the case, and the soldiers found themselves far from home, in the trenches on Christmas Eve.

  5. Introduce the video, explaining that it tells the story of what happened in some of the trenches at Christmas that year.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Christmas Truce (1914)’.

  6. Explain to the children that the war would continue for four long years until peace was declared in 1918. That Christmas of 1914 would go down in history for how special it was: a moment when peace reigned and the soldiers could forget their fighting for a short while.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to make themselves really quiet inside for a moment.

Remind them that Christmas 1914 wasn’t what people expected. However, out of the suffering that they were experiencing, something wonderful happened. Soldiers crossed the line to meet each other and share a moment of peace together.

This Christmas may not be what we are expecting either, but perhaps this year, we can discover something really special. Perhaps this year will go down in history, for us, if not for the world!

Dear God,
Thank you that at Christmas, you came down to earth.
Thank you that we can look back at those moments in history when people have chosen to do things differently.
Help us this year, as Christmas looks a bit different, to celebrate what really matters.


‘Silent night’, available at: (3.34 minutes long)

‘Oh holy night’ by Nina Nesbitt, available at: (3.47 minutes long)

Extension activities

  1. You may like to encourage the children to find out more about the Christmas truce. There are some useful resources available at: and

  2. You could share the story The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo or invite the children to write their own story about the Christmas truce.

  3. Maybe the children could create a display of how people around the world are celebrating Christmas differently this year. This may include some opportunities for prayer or reflection, for those who are grieving or hurting this year.
Publication date: December 2020   (Vol.22 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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