Nazi Christmas

nazi xmas
HoHoHo, wishing a merry Nazi Christmas to all readers of The Dabbler and The Wikiworm! I’m looking forward to a 2014 full of questionable facts and eyebrow-raising articles from the deepest depths of Wikipedia. 2013 has been a blast, see you in the new year.

The celebration of Christmas in Nazi Germany was another part of daily life that was brought in line with Nazi ideology. The Jewish origins of Jesus and the commemoration of his birth as the Jewish Messiah was considered troubling within the framework of Nazi racial beliefs. Between 1933 and 1945, government officials attempted to remove overtly jewish aspects of christmas from civil celebrations and concentrate on the pre-christian parts of the festival. Hymns and decorations were secularised. However church and private celebrations remained Christian in nature.

Christianity had long been the main faith of the Germanic peoples, dating to the missionary work of Columbanus and St. Boniface in the 6th–8th centuries. Between 1933-1945, proponents of Nazism sought to transform the subjective consciousness of the German people—their attitudes, values and mentalities—into a single-minded, obedient “national community”.

After taking power in 1933, Nazi ideologues initially renamed the christmas festival Julfest, and propagated its Germanic origins as the celebration of the winter solstice. These ideologists also claimed that the Christian elements of th

e holiday had been superimposed upon ancient Germanic traditions. They argued that Christmas Eve originally had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, but instead celebrated the winter solstice and the ‘rebirth of the sun’, that the swastika was an ancient symbol of the sun, and that Santa Claus was a Christian reinvention of the Germanic god Odin. Accordingly, holiday posters were made to depict Odin as the “Christmas or Solstice man”, riding a white charger, sporting a thick grey beard and wearing a slouch hat, carrying a sack full of gifts. Other changes were made to the manger, which was replaced by a Christmas garden containing wooden toy deer and rabbits; Mary and Jesus were also depicted as a blonde mother and child.

The Christmas tree was also changed. The traditional names of the tree, Christbaum or Weihnachtsbaum, was renamed in the press as fir tree, light tree or Jul tree. The star on the top of the tree was sometimes replaced with a swastika, a Germanic “sun wheel” or a Sig rune. During the height of the movement, an attempt was made to remove the association of the coming of Jesus and replace it with the coming of Adolf Hitler, referred to as the “Saviour Führer”.

Christmas carols were also updated. The words to “Silent Night” were amended so that it made no reference to God, Christ and religion. Words were also changed to the hymn “Unto Us a Time Has Come” so as to remove references to Jesus. The modified version of the hymn was in use for several more years in post-war Germany.

Shop catalogues containing children’s toys made available during the holiday season regularly featured toy tanks, fighter planes and machine guns. As a sign of appreciation, Heinrich Himmler frequently gave SS members a Julleuchter (“Yule lantern”), a kind of ornate Germanic candlestick, some of which were made at Dachau concentration camp. Housewives were prompted to bake biscuits in the shape of birds, wheels and swastikas for their children.

By 1944 the movement to remove Christian influences from Christmas lessened as the government concentrated more on the war effort. In 1944 civil celebrations of christmas marked the festival as a day of remembrance for Germany’s war dead. However, for the majority of Germans, the Christian traditions remained the basis of the holiday, and the churches were outraged by the removal of Christ from Christmas and tacitly maintained their Christian traditions in their ceremonies.


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About Author Profile: Worm

In between dealing with all things technological in the Dabbler engine room, Worm writes the weekly Wikiworm column every Saturday and our monthly Book Club newsletters.

12 thoughts on “Nazi Christmas

    Jeff Knowles
    December 21, 2013 at 08:41

    Benjamin Haydon, was he really such a bad painter? When you look at the work, There some flaws on certain works. especially on the larger works, I personally think the ” bad painter” myth has a lot to do with with his last exhibition which was unsuccessful largely due to the fact that the dwarf – Tom Thumb who was over from America and on show in the gallery next door, stole all the attention of the media and public, This was a financial disaster for Haydon which lead to his suicide, and the failed painter myth was created.

      December 21, 2013 at 12:09

      A novel way of looking at Nazi Christmas, Jeff…

      ( I could feature Hayden as a wikiworm in the new year, there’s some funny material to use)

      December 24, 2013 at 15:01

      Excuse frontal assault on your, a fellow Dabblerblog commenter’s, personality, but are you by any chance Jeff Time-Warper™ Knowles posting here quasi-incognito? Because above comment of Sat, 21 Dec APPARENTLY to Nige the WikiWorm’s Benjamin Haydon post of Tue, 28 May can but be read in the default time-ascending order governing the rest of us. Else you’re telling us that Nige’s perchance dubious assertions lingered in your subconscious all that time, until suddenly erupting right here and now [verbose ellipsis in brackets here … for added emphasis(*)] even though collectively we’ve already exhausted the subject far as it went.

      (^*) y’all rejoice in the rebirth of a rhetorical device now!

    December 21, 2013 at 10:36

    …and that Santa Claus was a Christian reinvention of the Germanic god Odin…


      December 21, 2013 at 12:06

      Concrete proof I agree

    December 21, 2013 at 11:54

    Stille Nacht, Freitag Nacht is somewhat lacking, don’t you think. Poor Onkel Addie, was a tad confused at times, my friend Erich’s mum said that he occasionally appeared at the Berlin Opera and asked little Jo where the view of Salzburg had gone. I blame the damp at the Wolfsschanze, got into his joints and made him grumpy.

    As long as there’s booze attached to it yer Germans don’t give a toss about the nuts and bolts, we Brits don sackcloth and ashes every November the eleventh, they become rat-arsed by the boatload, singing the night away.

    The German national conscience leads to, at times, a scramble for redemption. The recent extension of Köln’s U-Bahn has unearthed the thirteenth century Jewish area in the Rathausplatz. For the past four years the view of the extensive site being unearthed has been fascinating, especially from the first floor of the Wallraf-Richartz museum. The city elders are burning the midnight oil deciding how much to spend on a lid for the Jüdischen Museum, expensive architects have been engaged and the current number being bandied about is fifty million Euros.

    Oy vey.

      December 21, 2013 at 12:06

      Weregeld as I think the krauts call it, malty

    December 21, 2013 at 13:18

    Marge Schott, then owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, was said to have hung an SS armband on her Christmas tree. I can’t take exception to the display of war trophies, but a Christmas tree seems an odd place for them.

    By Advent 1944, the thousand-year Reich was down to six months, wasn’t it? The troubles of the war might distract anyone from holiday reforms.

      December 21, 2013 at 14:15

      The Germans and French have always been resistant to the American version of Christmas and keep St Nicklaus out of proceedings as much as possible, so Nazi Christmas wouldn’t have been a whole lot different to the usual one they still get up to, just with less Jesus and more swastikas

        December 21, 2013 at 15:16

        and of course watching their favourite Christmas movie Reichsmarschall Freytag von Scrooge, one of Leni’s finest.

        December 21, 2013 at 23:54

        Or the French and Germans do not bury the bishop under belly, beard, and red suit.

        By the way, the papers report that a man in a “Santa beard” held up a bank in Laurel, Maryland, this week. He did not go the length of putting on a Santa hat, so I’m not sure why the beard was described as it was.

    December 21, 2013 at 23:56

    “We wish you a Merry Hitler,
    We wish you a Merry Hitler,
    We wish you a Merry Hitler,
    And a Nazi New Year”

    Hmmm…don’t see *that* selling…

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