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On Christmas Day in 1914, British and German troops emerged from World War I trenches as weeks of bad weather have dissipated and called for a truce. It was spontaneous and not approved by superiors, but many soldiers on both sides ended up participating. Football matches were played between British and German troops before they returned to their respective camps at dusk and continued fighting.

The Christmas Truce, as it is known today, is for many an illustration of the power that Christmas holds over the collective imagination of humanity. Christmas is generally considered to be a time of family, togetherness, compassion and generosity. However, the ways people celebrate and think about the holidays continue to change as society evolves.

To see how Christmas has changed over the past century, Stacker explored how popular traditions, like food and decorations, emerged and evolved from 1920 to 2020 in the United States and around the world. Stacker has also discovered that some of the most popular Christmas songs, movies, and books have entered the holiday season and gift-giving canon that has topped many Christmas lists over the years.

Some traditions on the list are centuries old and others are newer but no less expensive. Sometimes, especially in times of war and conflict, families adjust their rituals to accommodate their new situation while keeping their spirits alive.

Read on to find out how Christmas has evolved over the past century.

You may also like: From Barnum & Bailey to Annie Oakley: A History of Traveling Entertainment in America


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