Five years ago, I wrote a post about the odd Celtic custom of Hunting the Wren on December 26th, St Stephen's Day. Of course, the wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) is the king of all birds because it was able to fly higher than the eagle by hiding on its back. The wren is hunted and paraded around by the mighty hunters, who ask for 'payment' until the wren is buried and the hunters' rewards are combined and cooked into a pudding.
I decided to post about this topic again because I heard a great version of John McCutcheon's ballad Christmas in the Trenches on a local college radio by my great and good friend Mary Courtney, the Star of the County Bronx. While looking for a video of a performance of the song, I found a nice video of Irish Christmas music and stories which starts off with Mary singing the Wren Song:
Christmas in the Trenches, references the improbable, impromptu Christmas Truce, a miraculous cessation of fighting on the part of soldiers on the front lines during World War One. Tragically, the truce didn't last long, because a new rotation of troops, ones who hadn't celebrated with their foes, came to the front lines. Mary is a humanitarian as well as a balladeer and folk historian... this is exactly the sort of song which she handles so beautifully.