So we have mysticism and we have Christmas. Now, I have noticed that at my grocery store, they have moved one step further away from Christmas by giving up Santa and red suits and red hats. There are green hats now and everything "elves". Somehow elves are green-ish. In the public sphere, I've never much cared about real Christmas carols blaring through speakers as I'm shopping. It was at the same time anachronistic and yet a preservation of some cultural heritage. What I am fearing is that with the banning of anything approaching Christian Christmas we are losing the last set of songs we actually could sing together. We have hardly any public spaces in this country, besides malls and schools and Walmart, too, now,-- hardly anybody sings, and if we tried to sing together we'd know nothing that we'd all know--the Christmas carols excepted. We are fractured as a people and culture, the way our families are fractured nowadays. It maybe some sort of freedom and individualism, but at huge cost to psychological well-being. We then have to go to Yoga class, where we do some stretching -fine--but also where we sit together trying to think nothing--not to mention not sing anything, except, perhaps, "Om".
We used to be able, not very long ago, to sing Christmas carols together with gusto and joy, and I am new-ish to this country. But it seems like the next generation won't know them at all.
Between mysticism, elves and disappearing cultural / religious goods of song, I am thinking why am I not writing something nice and Christmas-sy, myself, today, since were are nearly upon the season? But instead of that I am thinking to link all that with my other concern and upcoming discussion of Poewe's "New Religions and the Nazis". You see, because in the pre-war years we had something analogous happening. And one does wonder: what comes next?
As we could see from Brahms and Wagner and those who thought themselves avant-garde, creative and brilliant, the Judeo-Christian heritage had to go. It had to be stamped out. It was hated, distasteful old stuff. Christianity would have to go perhaps because it was not Darwinian enough. Eugenically speaking the weak were coddled and the proletariat was oppressed. (There is something add odds here. If the "genius", i.e. "leader", i.e. "Fuehrer" was to lead, what was wrong with the monarch? And if the proletariat was stupid and weak, why encourage it. Hm. Something wrong with either their or my thinking. ...) In any case, Christianity was too Jewish, and the whole thing was distasteful to the Romantic age and their experience of... whatever, whatever experience they were having, Christianity didn't fit properly. In any case, Christ didn't fit, either because he was either too Jewish and inappropriate or crucifixion to ugly to those with refined taste, else Christianity was said to be to particularistic and against the Jews. (Again, nothing hangs together here. Is it me or is it them?). That Wagner was anti-semitic can be seen by looking simply into his writing against Mendelssohn and other muscicians. Mendelssohn was was a Lutheran of Jewish extraction. Neither the Lutheranism, nor the Jewishness, nor the orthodoxy in the oratorios, etc. was acceptable to Wagner. Likely the resurrection of J.S. Bach facilited by Mendelssohn did not please Wagner either.
At the same time as we have the rise of materialism and Darwinism we also had this rise in mystical romanticism. Somehow, all of it combined into one stream of anti-Christianity which facilitated the rise of National Socialism and the racial movement of German spirit and faith.
The German faith movement I want to get into later by looking at "New Religions and the Nazis". For now lets just look at what Nazi ideologues and poets did to Christmas and its songs.
In my collection I possess several volumes of Christmas songs, which contain hundreds and hundreds of songs, most of which I know and can sing and play. I am just contrasting this to the narrowing of the repertoire in the grocery store.
Here are two of my books.
It was given to our family a long time by an American family from San Diego. The family had billeted with us during a choir tour to Germany. There are about 400 songs in it, and you can see the book is well used. At the very end of the book are some ancient Latin songs, which are also hauntingly beautiful.
2. This is a book given to me by my brother, I think. It is an astonishing collection of song through the ages and cultural epochs with explanations of the trends that can be discerned--a truly enlightened and illuminating edition.
It is available at Amazon, here, we note, for $22.00, truly an amazing value for this kind of book, which also contains wonderful illustrations. It might be worth getting the book for yourself or a friend, if there is any German-language knowledge. (This is another thing. Who knows any German these days except native German speakers. In North America hardly a soul bothers learning languages because they don't need to. This may have to led to misunderstandings of many kinds over the years. I am slightly side-tracked, but this issue may also have contributed to a very shallow understanding of the Nazi movement and war times.)
This is the contents page:
We see that under 6. and 7. we deal with the Youth-movement that merged into the Hitler-youth and the overhaul of Christmas by gutting it of Christian content and substituting a mythology of nature, stars, motherhood and German nation. The Christmas tree is now the "Jultanne". I myself remember singing a set of songs which are mostly about snow and walking in snow.
--I think I will get my day going, at this point.-- We have made a introduction to the subject. In the next post, I want to have a look at what this "Buch der Weihnachtslieder" can tell us about the Nazi-movement, its songs and its efforts to remove Christmas from Christmas.