Ed Driscoll

The Holiday that Dare Not Speak its Doubleplusungood Name

“Christmas is now celebrated, however imperfectly, in most lands where the worst tyrants tried to eradicate it and its celebrants,” Mark Tooley writes at the American Spectator. But for much of the 20th century, that wasn’t the case:

Today, unsurprisingly, North Korea and Saudi Arabia actively suppress Christmas. But much of the rest of the world seems to have at least secular versions of the holiday. Although still officially communist, Chinese cities are more and more decorated with holiday trees and lights, partly reflecting the country’s growing economic integration with the West, partly reflecting the growing Christian population. Much of the world’s Christmas ornaments are now manufactured in China.The old Soviet Union tried to displace Christmas by highlighting New Year’s Day as the alternative Winter holiday. (In the Eastern Orthodox calendar, Christmas follows New Year’s.) Of course, Christmas outlasted Soviet communism. East European communism collapsed in 1989 in time for Christmas. Romania’s brutal tyrant Nicolae Ceauşescu and his equally brutish wife were tried and executed by the “people” on Christmas Day. Two years later, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned on Christmas Day, providentially ending the Soviet Union.

Less than two decades later, how easy to forget that the last century was dominated by totalitarian monster regimes like the Soviet Union. Soviet communism, Chinese communism, and German National Socialism together murdered more millions than all that century’s wars combined. The Nazis usurped Christmas by emphasizing its supposed pre-Christian pagan origins. This Christmas, we can celebrate, among so much else, despite the world’s current travails, that the great totalitarian murder machines are, for the most part, gone.

To get a sense of the Nazis warped Christmas to fit their ideology, check out this heavily-illustrated 2009 article at the London Daily Mail: “How Hitler’s Nazi propaganda machine tried to take Christ out of Christmas.”

Related: At Roger Kimball’s blog, it’s Christmas, Antonio Gramsci style:  “’Tis the Season to be Politically Correct.”

But then, isn’t that the case 24/7, 364 days a year?