As Christmas comes and goes, I often remember the holidays of yore. Not necessarily in my lifetime, but I had heard of soccer being involved with the Christmas holiday somehow. I found the information about how the British and German troops in World War I had agreed to a Christmas Truce (WWI Christmas Truce) and was intrigued by how a holy day for Christians turned into a day of rest, drinking and soccer. As the screen shot (below) shows, “Kurt Zehmisch of the 134th recorded in his diary: ‘…Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.’”
Indeed, as Christians reflect on the birth of Jesus, they are also able to give thanks for the abilities to play soccer to which it unites people groups that are at odds with each other.
On the spectrum, Boxing Day, though in Ireland is known as St. Stephen’s Day, is rarely thought of as a religious holiday and is better recognized as a day not for charity (although there are many theories – one being that back in the day, bosses and superiors at companies would buy gifts for their employees and put them in a ‘Christmas box’ – Boxing Day, as it is called), but for, as Time Magazine puts it, “food, football (soccer), visits from friends, food and drinking at the pub.” (Boxing Day)
Boxing Day was, and still is, one of the most anticipated days for football in England, as it used to carry most local derbies but nowadays, though not necessarily packed with derbies, the holiday is chock full of great matchups.
The postponed Arsenal/West Ham match was to be the game most were looking forward to, as it was the only derby on this year’s agenda on Boxing Day.
A few other big matches that could help squads move up in the table could be:
Tottenham/Aston Villa (either Tottenham cement their place in the top of the table or Aston Villa could see a turnaround from their 8-nil romp at Stamford Bridge),
Everton/Wigan (either Everton needs to play as strong as they had at the beginning of the season or Wigan can come out looking for a way to move up rather than staying at a meager 18th),
Norwich/Chelsea (though not a huge game for either, a win for Chelsea would move them from third to one of the top two spots and bolstering their confidence – at least for the PL or if Norwich were to win, they’d get past tenth to possibly being in the single digits in the league),
And the broadcasted match (on ESPN2) of Manchester United/Newcastle (this match could be the catalyst for Newcastle as they could come from the depths of 14th place and move up to a respectable mid-table team or Manchester United could lock in first place [with a win] or [with a loss or draw – their first draw coming from Swansea the other day] they could be relegated to second, or even worse, third place – oh, the horror – of the Premier League.)
From a Christmas match in 1914 to many cutthroat matchups on Boxing Day in 2012, we can be thankful for the wonderful sport we call football (or soccer) that can bring together rival foes during a World War or just start to solidify standings in the Premier League nearly a century later.
Enjoy the Boxing Day matches!