Nazi Christmas

Christmas presents for the poor in 1935
Christmas presents for the poor in 1935

In Third Reich, Christmas was observed within the Nazi ideology. The Jewish origins of Jesus and the honoring of his birth was troubling for Nazi party. Jesus Christ did not fit into the ideology of the Nazis. Between 1933 and 1945, Nazis tried to get rid of these aspects of Christmas from civil celebrations and favor the pagan aspects of the holiday. Hymns and decorations were secularized, but church and personal celebrations stayed Christian in nature.

Ultimately, the Nazi regime planned to eradicate Christianity in Germany and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods.

Since taking power in 1933, Nazis wanted to reject Germany’s Christmas traditions – renaming the festival Julfest, and promoting its Germanic roots because the celebration of the winter solstice. For many Germans, however, the Christian traditions remained the basis of the holiday. The churches were offended by the removal of Christ from Christmas and kept the Christian traditions.

Nazis insisted that originally Christmas Eve had nothing to do with the birth of Christ, and instead celebrated the winter solstice and also the ‘rebirth of the sun’. According to them, the swastika was an ancient symbol of the sun, and Santa Claus was a Christian reinvention of the Germanic god Odin.

Christmas Celebration at Mercedes-Benz, with German Labor Front Bulletin Board in the Background (1938)
Christmas Celebration at Mercedes-Benz, with German Labor Front Bulletin Board in the Background (1938)

Later, holiday posters were made to illustrate Odin as the “Christmas or Solstice man”, riding a white charger, wearing a thick grey beard and a slouch hat, carrying a sack full of gifts. Mary and Jesus were delineated as a blonde mother and her child.

nazi_decorations

The Christmas tree was also reinvented. Christbaum or Weihnachtsbaum, was renamed as fir tree, light tree or Jul tree. The star on the top of the tree was typically replaced with a swastika, a Germanic “sun wheel”. During the peak of the movement, Nazis tried to get rid of the association of the coming of Jesus and replace it with the coming of Adolf Hitler, referred to as the “Saviour Führer”.

Hitler and Generals at his 1941 Christmas party. Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Hitler and Generals at his 1941 Christmas party.
Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Shop catalogs selling children’s toys during the holiday season regularly featured toy tanks, fighter planes and machine guns. Housewives were baking biscuits within the form of birds, wheels and swastikas for their youngsters.

Christmas eve in the bunker, 1944
Christmas eve in the bunker, 1944

By 1944 the movement to take away Christian influences from Christmas lessened as the government fixated on the war effort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *