The Bloody Christmas Tree

"The Bloody Christmas Tree" was composed in Italian and originating from the copper mines of Wyoming. This was an area of intense labor and socialist organizing in the early 1900's. Publication by courtesy of Clara Cortese - the piece was found in the papers of her father, Francesco D. Sozio born in Abruzzi-Molise, after his death.
The story told in the letter is somehow reminiscent of the Christmas Truce around Christmas Day 1914, when along the Western Front there was an unofficial ceasefire, and soldiers on both sides emerged from the trenches to share gestures of goodwill. On December 7, 1914 Pope Benedict XV had actually suggested to temporary stop the war for the celebration of Christmas but the countries at war had refused.
A historical thought through five whole years of tears and blood "Glory to Giuseppe Mazzini's Nature-God in the highest clouds of HEAVEN, AND TRUE LASTING PEACE ON EARTH TO MEN OF GOOD WILL.

The historical moment can be summarized in just a few pencil strokes. It is Christmastime. In the poor farm house sadness comes double than usual. The family support who in the previous years used to cheer his dear ones with his presence and words is now faraway, in an icy land, in danger. He kills and risks being killed for the sake of an absurd political cause that those simple souls fail to understand. The village Mayor tried to console the poor Mother, claiming that the fruit of her womb is a hero. She kept mumbling with herself that statement, shaking her head. It seemed to her that her Son was a more useful hero when he used to push the team of oxen ploughing and making their fields fertile. Now he is shedding the blood of people who never hurt him; he is not producing, he is destroying. And the poor Old Lady sighed.

She is thinking: "How will my Son spend his Christmas? Is he still living? And if he is still living today, will he not be tomorrow just a corpse with his chest open, lying on frozen snow fields? O you flesh of my flesh, I will not be beside you to support you on the point of death with a good word!"

Down in the trench, the Son is overcome by a similar deep sadness. The humble home where he spent his childhood, the figures of his dear ones, come back to his mind. He feels emotion rising in his throat and tries to push back the tears veiling his eyes. A soldier, a hero must not weep! But why did they take him away of his peaceful job; away from the care he had with so much love, so much pride, to the holy woman who poured blood and soul into his veins; to whom he owes all that is honest and good inside his heart?

And the hero turns into a child again and unconsciously whispers: "O Mother, o My Dear Mother!" The thornbush blows and takes his low, warm invocation away. He thinks for a long time, then looks at the enemy trench and says to himself: "They, too, have a mother, who is anxiously and weeping waiting for them. What harm did I do to them, that they should wish for my death and strive so hard to kill me? What harm did they do to me, that I should spy carefully for the right moment to place four lengths of steel into their bowels?"

He keeps clutching in his hands his tobacco bag and would like to stand up and shout: O Brothers! Do not let us do something so silly. It is the Holy Christmas. Help yourselves. Let's smoke together to our mutual health...don't you feel like it? We'll have time to turn our bowels out tomorrow!"

At that very moment a strange roar is heard. It's the wings of the Goddess that quenches the spirits full of anger; that takes joy wherever she flies; that makes flowers blossom and fruit ripen wherever she places her fingers.

O peace, thou peace who speakest the International language understood by the Italian, the Austrian, the Turk, by all men, the trench is calling you, the farmhouse is calling you. O may Nature, if she has bowels, let you not disappear like a short-lived ghost, in the first rays of the sun!

O Christmas, a Christmas of Peace and Love for the whole Human Kind. You are the Christmas so long wished by weeping Mothers; by sad Brides; by the tender Children who lie in the song of cold huts, with stomachs empty from the long fast, lips burning of thirst because of calling so much in vain that faraway Father who will never return, who fell a victim of that Homeland which has denied us for centuries a hardened bread and a miserable hut. Today all the working people, rising their minds, their eyes towards the new dawn, can see all the kings fall from their Thrones like apples in the Autumnal season, and gathering with that one they believed an enemy yesterday; letting their weapons fall to the ground and singing the International Hymn of the great upheaval.

"Let disappear all those mean gangs that today are depriving Men of their rights, do not follow self-interest, keep generous feelings, and noble deeds.
PEACE, JUSTICE AND TRUTH TO ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH, wishing to all a Good CHRISTMAS, a good end of the year, and a Good Beginning.
Rock Springs, Wyoming
DECEMBER 1918, Anno Domini

F. Avanzini