How the Nazis chose Christmas
In 1921, at the Munich Beer Hall, the newly appointed leader of the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler, delivered a Christmas speech to the excited crowd. According to observers of the secret police, when Hitler condemned “the timid Jews breaking the liberators on the cross”
;, 4,000 supporters cheered and vowed to “don’t rest until the Jews… lie on the ground and break to pieces.” Later, the crowd sang holiday carols and nationalist hymns by the Christmas tree. Participants of the working class received charitable gifts. For Germans in the 1920s and 1930s, such familiar holidays, nationalist propaganda, and anti-Semitism were not uncommon. As the Nazi Party expanded in size and scope, and finally came to power in 1933, faithful propagandists worked to further “Nazify” Christmas. They hope to redefine familiar traditions and design new symbols and rituals, and hope to convey the main purpose of National Socialism through this popular holiday. Given the state’s control over public life, it is not surprising that Nazi officials repeatedly promoted and promoted the Christmas version. Broadcast and news reports. However, under any totalitarian rule, there may be huge differences between public life and private life, between the etiquette of the city square and the etiquette of the family. In my research, I was interested in how Nazi symbols and rituals permeated private family celebrations rather than the gaze of party leaders. This is reminiscent of the status of the family in the “racial state”, without Jews and other outsiders. Redefining Christmas One of the most notable features of private celebrations during the Nazi period is the redefinition of Christmas as a Nordic celebration of neo-pagans. The Nazi Party was not concerned with the religious origins of the festival, but to celebrate the so-called Aryan heritage, that is, the Nazis labelled “ethically acceptable” members of the German racial country. Practiced by the “German” tribes before the arrival of Christianity. For example, lighting candles on a Christmas tree is reminiscent of pagans’ desire to “recover the light” after the shortest day of the year. But there is no reason to think they are unpopular. Since the 1860s, German historians, theologians, and popular writers have always believed that German holidays are the products of pre-Christian pagan rituals and folk superstitions. Therefore, due to the long history of these ideas and traditions, Nazi propagandists could easily use Christmas as a celebration of pagan German nationalism. Huge state institutions (centered on the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment) ensured that the Nazi holiday ruled the public spaces and celebrations of the Third Reich, but two aspects of Nazi Christmas were relatively new. First, because Nazi thinkers viewed organized religion as the enemy of totalitarian states, propagandists tried to downplay or completely eliminate the Christian aspect of this holiday. Official celebrations may mention the supremacy, but they more prominently have the winter solstice and “light” rituals, which are said to capture the lineage of holiday pagans. Second, as suggested by Hitler’s (1921) speech, Nazi celebrations evoked racial purity and anti-Semitism. Before the Nazis came to power in 1933, the ugly and public attacks on German Jews were typical of holiday propaganda. Overt anti-Semitism disappeared more or less after 1933, as the regime tried to stabilize its control of people who were tired of political conflict, even though the Nazi celebrations still excluded those the regime deemed inappropriate. Numerous media pictures of German families with blond hair and blue eyes gathered around the Christmas tree, normalizing the ideology of racial purity. Nonetheless, there was overt anti-Semitism during Christmas. Many people would boycott department stores owned by Jews. On the cover of the mail-order Christmas catalog in 1935, there was a blonde sticker on it, and a piece of paper was attached to it, assuring customers that “the department store has been taken over by Aryan!”, and the cover of the catalog had a blonde sticker Mother packing Christmas gifts. This is a small example that is almost mediocre. But it sounds important. In Nazi Germany, even the purchase of gifts can naturalize anti-Semitism and exacerbate the “social death” of Jews in the Third Reich. The message is clear: only “Aryans” can participate in the celebration. According to National Socialist theorists, women (especially mothers) are essential to strengthen the bond between private life and the “new spirit” of German racial status. According to the celebration, daily activities include wrapping gifts, decorating houses, cooking “German” holiday food and organizing family celebrations-related to sentimental “Nordic” nationalism. Propaganda advocates claim that German mothers can act as “priestesses” and “protectors of houses and fireplaces” and use Christmas to “bring spirits and rebirth.” Women’s magazines, “Nazified Christmas” books and Nazi carols The holiday publications of the United States confuse traditional family customs with the regime’s ideology, and this ideological manipulation occurs every day. Encourage mothers and children to make homemade decorations shaped like “Odin’s Sun Wheel” and bake holiday cookies shaped like circles (fertility signs). It is said that the ritual of lighting candles on the Christmas tree creates an atmosphere of “pagan demons” that classifies the Star of Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus as “Germany”. Family singing embodies the boundary between private and official celebrations. Propagandaists tirelessly promoted many Nazized Christmas songs, replacing Christian themes with the regime’s racial ideology. The most famous Nazi carol “Ching Ming Night” was reprinted in a Nazi songbook, played on radio programs, performed in countless public celebrations, and sung at home. Indeed, “Night of Worship” was so familiar that it could still be sung as part of an ordinary family holiday in the 1950s (and obviously part of some public performances today!). Although the melody of the song imitates traditional carols, the lyrics deny the Christian origin of the festival. The scriptures of the mother of stars, light and eternity imply that the world can be redeemed by believing in National Socialism instead of Jesus. Is there a conflict or consensus among the German public? We will never know exactly how many German families sang “Night of Worship” or Christmas cookies shaped like a German sun wheel. However, we do have some records, their reactions to the Nazi holidays are quite popular, and most of these records come from official sources. For example, the “Activity Report” of the National Socialist Women’s Federation (NSF) shows that the redefinition of Christmas has caused some differences among members. The NSF document states that when propagandists use too much force to observe religious ceremonies, tensions intensify, leading to “a lot of suspicion and dissatisfaction.” Religious traditions often conflict with ideological goals: Is it acceptable for “socialists who persuade the nation” to celebrate Christmas with Christian carols and nativity dramas? How can the followers of the Nazis observe the Nazi holidays, while the shops mostly sell traditional holiday goods and rarely stock Nazi Christmas books? At the same time, the German clergy publicly resisted the Nazis’ attempts to bring Christ out of Christmas. In Düsseldorf, the clergy used Christmas to encourage women to join their women’s clubs. The Catholic clergy threatened to expel women who joined the NSF. Elsewhere, women of faith boycotted the NSF Christmas party and charity events. Nevertheless, this objection never really challenged the main purpose of the Nazi holiday. Public opinion reports compiled by the Nazi secret police often comment on the popularity of the Nazi Christmas celebrations. As the Second World War entered, the Nazi holidays became increasingly frustrating, and the secret police reported that complaints about official policies radiated a “Christmas atmosphere” overall. Despite the conflict in Christianity, many Germans accepted Christmas as Christmas. A return to the colorful and delightful pagan “German” tradition is expected to revive family celebrations. It is especially important to celebrate the Nazi holiday as a symbol of racial purity and national belonging. “Aryans” can celebrate German Christmas. The Jews cannot do it. The Nazification of family celebrations revealed the paradoxes and controversial areas of private life in the Third Reich. Obviously, the decision to sing specific Christmas carols or bake holiday cookies every day is a political dissent or an expression of support for National Socialism. This article is reproduced from the non-profit news site The Conversation, with ideas from academic experts. Read more: *Hitler at home: How the Nazi PR machine reshaped Führer’s family image and deceived the world *How Charles Dickens saved the spirit of Christmas *Can astronomy explain the Star of Bethlehem in the Bible? Joe Perry has received funding exchange services from German academic institutions and Georgia State University.