The Story Behind Snoopy's Christmas

December 6, 2018

Dreamstime/Fran Lane

We get lots of requests for Snoopy's Christmas, a song made famous by The Royal Guardsmen in 1967. It continues to be played as a holiday favorite across the country.

The song, which references the Christmas truce of World War I. The song is about how Snoopy fought the Red Baron on Christmas Eve. The Baron has Snoopy at his mercy after a long dogfight but, instead of shooting him down he forces Snoopy to land and offers Snoopy a holiday toast. Afterward, Snoopy and the Red Baron fly their separate ways, "each knowing they'd meet on some other day".

Although fictitious, the song is set against the backdrop of a legitimate historical event. During World War I, in 1914, “The Christmas Truce” was initiated not by German and British commanders, but by the soldiers themselves. The length of the cease-fire varied by location, and was reported to have been as brief as Christmas Day or as long as the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. Trench-bound combatants exchanged small gifts across the lines, with Germans giving beer to the British, who sent tobacco and tinned meat back in return. No Man's Land was cleared of dead bodies, trenches were repaired and drained, and troops from both sides shared pictures of their families and, in some places, used No Man's Land for friendly games of football. The song even has the initiator correct as it was generally the German soldiers who called over to the British and initiated the truce and, in the song, it is the Red Baron—a German WWI hero—who extends the hand of Christmas friendship to Snoopy.