The War on Christmas — are we the baddies?

It’s December First, time to resume the battle. Except, uh-oh, there are some uncomfortable associations with my side in the battle. You know, we atheists aren’t trying to get rid of Christmas — we like parties — we’re just trying to escape the religious implications of the season.

Who else tried to remove the Christian element from the holiday? Hitler, that’s who.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis did their best to transform Germany’s beloved Christmas traditions into Nazi ones. Though Hitler’s attempts to create a national church failed, his party’s attempt to redefine religious celebrations was more successful. To do this, they used ideology and propaganda to put the holiday in line with the national socialists’ anti-Semitic values.

The Nazis’ problem with Christmas was baked into Christmas itself. After all, Jesus was a Jew—and both anti-Semitism and the goal of eradicating Jews and Jewishness were at the very core of Nazi ideology.

OK, it’s true we’d like to subvert the religious associations, but it’s not for the purpose of anti-semitism (a significant difference, I think), it’s to make the holiday more inclusive. You want to celebrate a traditional, conservative Christian Christmas? Fine, go ahead, I’m happy for you. You want to strip naked and dance in the moonlight on the solstice? Also good, you do you. But nobody should try to swap the participants in those two rituals. And it’s possible to go too far in distancing yourself from basic civil behavior during the season. Like Nazis.

Among the most important was the celebration of the winter solstice. The Nazis attempted to move the date of Christmas to the solstice instead and mounted large performances and community bonfires that supposedly drew on pre-Christian rituals. They also tried to redefine St. Nicholas as Wotan, the ancient Germanic deity.

As the years went on, Nazi attempts to take over Christmas intensified. The Nazis rewrote the lyrics of “Silent Night” to remove all attempts to religion or Christ. They distributed Advent calendars for kids filled with propaganda and militaristic imagery. They even tried to rewrite Handel’s Messiah. Mothers were encouraged to bake swastika-shaped cookies. Even the familiar star that topped millions of Christmas trees was replaced by a sunburst that looked less like the Star of David.

Replacing Santa with Wotan? OK, but you’re going to make the kids cry harder.

Rewriting “Silent Night”? I also approve. Nice slow melody, but man, those lyrics are thoroughly soaked in god-shit. You can sing it however you want, but I personally can’t stand the words to the song.

Swastika-shaped Christmas cookies, there I draw the line.

Also, it’s more Nazi-like to tell me I can’t say “Happy Holidays” and force me to abide by every sacred nuance of your peculiar religious tradition.


  1. says

    Religion, when examined completely and closely, is a manifestation of and ‘theoretical construct’ of the human mind. Throughout history xtian religion and its book are the bloodiest, most destructive and obscene forces in society. That’s why so many of xtianity’s leaders are such greedy, malignant, arrogant freaks. As one person posted recently. ‘solstice is the reason for the season’

  2. says

    @2, Walter Solomon, A friend of mine who was born in a country East of Germany claimed he was the original ‘festivus pole’!

  3. says

    I don’t want to participate in a war on Xmas, Engaging with FUX news is futility. There is too much violence in this cesspool of human misery as it is. I just want to ignore it and be left to share my own celebration with anyone who wishes.

  4. says

    Also, celebration of the Winter Solstice predates hitler, the Xtians, and almost every other ‘western’ celebration. It is benign.

  5. Alverant says

    He tried making a national church and integrated worship of a god into a winter holiday but we’re supposed to believe he’s an Atheist. Do I have that right?

  6. jenorafeuer says

    Nobody who actually knew what they were talking about actually thinks Hitler was ever really an atheist. He was brought up Catholic and was never actually excommunicated (though of the loud ultra-conservative type; think Mel Gibson’s family and other sedevacantists who literally believe they’re more Catholic the Pope), and I understand some of his writing was pretty god-soaked and Creationist in a mostly non-denominational manner.

    To my understanding, a simple way to think of Hitler’s religion is probably something along the lines of “The Germans are God’s true chosen people and the Jews have been trying to steal that from us, too!”

  7. hemidactylus says

    It’s been a while since I read these monsters but I thought Houston Chamberlain and Alfred Rosenberg were part of an ideological arc that tried to Aryanize Jesus.

    “In the writings of such antisemites as Emile Burnouf, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and Paul de Lagarde, Jesus was redefined as an Aryan hero who struggled against Jews and Judaism.”

  8. lumipuna says

    Rewriting “Silent Night”? I also approve. Nice slow melody, but man, those lyrics are thoroughly soaked in god-shit. You can sing it however you want, but I personally can’t stand the words to the song.

    I’ve been often listening Maisey Rika’s Maori language songs on YouTube. Some of them praise Tawhirimatea and some apparently praise Jesus, but everything sounds OK without a translation. Frankly, I feel I could listen to a phone book being read out in Te Reo Maori.

    Swastika-shaped Christmas cookies, there I draw the line.

    For some reason these pastries are popular in Finland, with people only rarely noting the swastika -like shape:

  9. bcw bcw says

    “You want to strip naked and dance in the moonlight on the solstice? Also good, you do you.”

    In Minnesota? In December?

  10. microraptor says

    I really had to laugh at FAUX Outrage’s latest volley in the War on Christmas: Biden is too excited about Christmas.

    Also, the War on Christmas will not end until Christmas ceases its illegal occupation of November. We will not negotiate with the Claus regime while they’re continuing their invasion of other holidays.

  11. calgor says

    I second microraptor’s suggestion that the War on Christmas continues until it stops invading other months of the calendar! Having seen Christmas displays as far back as September this year, enough is enough!

    As for putting Christ back into Christmas, the only thing that Christians didn’t steal about Christmas is the name. The early church even changed the date of Christ’s birth (originally in October iirc) so as to steal the midwinter solstice as a church festival.

  12. StevoR says

    @ ^ calgor : Yup. Just think about when sheep have lambs – hint it isn’t in the middle of winter! (or start of winter depending on where you mark the season.) or here in Oz the middle of a searingly hot Summer either. If the nativity took place when shepherds were watching flocks allnight a sis traditional.. then nah, it wouldve been in Spring for SouthWest Asia which is March-May~ish.

    @12. bcw bcw :

    “You want to strip naked and dance in the moonlight on the solstice? Also good, you do you.”

    In Minnesota? In December?

    Well, you don’t have to do it for long! Indeed, midnight is only a minute long technically speaking (between 11.59 pm and 12.01 am) – and nothing there about NOT having big fires or heating nearby. Think of it as like those people who go swimming or diving into holes cut in ice breifly for the “fun” of it.. Not that I’m recommending it but still.

    @8. Alverant :

    He (Hitler -ed) tried making a national church and integrated worship of a god into a winter holiday but we’re supposed to believe he’s an Atheist. Do I have that right?

    Yeah, according to some people who’d rather convenientlydemonise atheists and overlook the Christianist elements of Hitler’s personality cult as gets noted and nicely debunked hereStephen by Non-Stamp Collector lasting ten minutes.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Of course, it’s shit like this that gives credence to the claims by right-wing assholes (especially my Cat-lick father) that Hitler and Co. were anti-Christian/Anti-Catholic and would go after the faithful as soon as he was done with the Jews.

  14. pick says

    “You want to strip naked and dance in the moonlight on the solstice? ”

    Hey, that’s private!…. and …. how did you know?!
    Stay warm!

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Re: Christmas.
    Today is the 30th anniversary of the very first SMS ever sent:
    “Merry Christmas “.
    Tech nerds are not very religious so I see this as an anecdotal support for the secularisation of the holiday.

    Today is the anniversary of the 2021 Stockholm conference where Russian foreign minister Lavrov rejected the current security order of Europa, chocking the other dignitaries attending and pissing off the American delegate.

  16. R. L. Foster says

    The longer I live, the less I understand.

    I made contact with my old high school girlfriend this summer at a high school reunion in Asheville. She’s Jewish. Her parents were Holocaust survivors who got out of Germany just two months before the invasion of Poland. We hadn’t heard from each other in nearly 50 years. Turns out she’s become a Messianic Jew. For those who don’t know, that means she believes Jesus (Yeshua in her parlance) is the long awaited messiah. I told her that means she’s become a Christian. No, no, no, she insisted. I’m still a Jew, I just believe that Jesus is the messiah. I celebrate both Hanukkah and Xmas. I’ve got both a menorah and a Xmas tree in my living room. I sighed. What to say? Do I really want to have that argument with her? It’s really a case of not having a dog in that fight. I’m an atheist, or at best a pantheist in the mold of Spinoza. Jew. Christian. Jewish Christian. What do I care?

    Then she invited me to attend her temple. It’s only a four hour drive, but I’m not sure it’s such a good idea. She’s still sweet on me. Very sweet. The world never ceases to amaze me.

  17. Tethys says

    The current holiday is syncretic between the original seasonal festivities of Northern Europe and the Catholic Church.
    There have been several attempts by the Xtian church to ban things like decorated Christmas trees and Yul logs, but its still celebrated with a basic tradition of evergreens, flame, gifts, and feasting. Copious amounts of ale are also traditionally involved in celebrating the turn of the year.

  18. wsierichs says

    Hitler officially was a lifelong Roman Catholic. When he died, Germany’s archbishop ordered all his churches to hold requiems for Hitler. That’s the title of a book by a scholar, Klaus Scholder, 1989, who discussed the event. Scholder wropte a massive, heavily-documented history of the churches’ relationships with Nazi Germany. It was a bit complicated at times, but the party was not hostile to Christianity, per se. The evidence for Hitler’s true beliefs all has problems. Some historians call him a deist by the end of his life. My non-scholarly opinion is that it’s impossible to be even that tentative. I think he was a kind of generic Protestant by the end, but not anti-Catholic per se. Anything beyond that is guesswork.

    The conflicts that existed came for several reasons. The party was roughly two-thirds Protestant and one-third Catholic, and the two sects had a long, bitter history. Hitler kept overt Christianity out of the party because any religious elements invariably would trigger one side or the other. Also, many European Christians regarded the swastika as being the equivalent to the cross as a Christian symbol. None of these people were “pagans.” A few Nazis tried to create a neo-pagan religion, but were not supported by Hitler nor his general leadership group. “The Holy Reich” by Richard Steigmann-Gall, 2003, walks through all the evidence here to show that the Nazi leadership was overwhelmingly Christian, as were most Germans. If Hitler had been known as a pagan or atheist, he would never have attained or held power.

    Bottom line, neither Hitler nor the party membership in general were anti-Christian. Hostility was due to a mix of historical, social and some theological (Prots-v-Catholics) issues.