HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF as throughout much of the European Union (EU) Christmas and New Year 2020, under the guise of Covid-19 lockdowns, are declared illegal. People may not gather to celebrate Christmas mass, attend Church services in numbers, or celebrate the New Year.
Sections of stores given over to selling children’s toys, tinsel and garlands, tableware for Christmas festivities are sealed. You and the children can look but you cannot purchase ~ by order. Even the selling of Christmas-related food stuffs is declared illegal. Services such as hairdressers, fancy dress, florists, manicurists, and restaurants are closed by order of the state. A curfew is imposed to prevent people gathering to celebrate traditional Christmas-related festivities.
Nothing makes sense unless one understands the nature of Bolshevism, which is now called Globalism and ‘diversity’.
85 years ago in the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), celebration of the New Year was resumed. In Russia, before the revolution, Christmas was the main winter holiday. Families looked forward to Christmas: children with their parents decorated the Christmas tree, sent postcards, prepared treats and gifts. Many houses had their own specialties, the recipes of which have been passed down from generation to generation. For Christmas, it was customary to bake pies and cook meat. For dessert, they ate gingerbread cookies, sweets and candied fruits.
The pre-holiday bustle was felt on every Moscow street – fairs were noisy everywhere, shop and shop owners competed in the art of window dressing. But the most beautiful by December 25 (on this day they celebrated Christmas in pre-revolutionary Russia) were the churches. The festive mood remained until the New Year: Muscovites went to visit, walked and rolled down the hills.
New time of the old Feast
The Bolshevik seizure of democratic Russia not only changed the political system and the way of life of the whole country, it literally turned the time around. In 1918, the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR adopted a decree on the country’s transition to the Gregorian calendar: after December 31, January 14 commenced (the difference between the calendars is 13 days).
The clergy did not support the reform, which caused confusion with the date of Christmas. Russian Orthodox Church, along with some other celebrating Christmas according to the Julian calendar (originally it was December 25), but after the country’s transition to the Gregorian calendar, this date has moved on 7 January. Read more here
As a result of these changes, in 1918 there was no celebrations of Christmas at all in Russia. In 1917, the last Christmas was celebrated, which fell on December 25. And the next time the Orthodox holiday was celebrated on January 7, 1919. This change was perceived as quite painful. At first, local believers did not really know when to celebrate Christmas says Irina Karpacheva, head of the History of Moscow department at the Museum of Moscow.
It is known that Vladimir Lenin and Nadezhda Krupskaya spent the first Soviet New Year’s Eve (in 1919) in the company of workers from the Vyborg side in Sokolniki: they drank tea, ate rye crackers and listened to the Internationale.
Almost from its first days, the new government of the Bolsheviks launched a struggle against the Church as an institution. They changed not only habits and traditions, but also the worldview of people. They began to massively purge and remove faith in the second half of the 1920s, announcing a new cultural revolution.
The Bolsheviks began to end all Church holidays, the main ones being Christmas and Easter. In the late 1920s, a powerful campaign had already begun to fight the church and its ministers. Church holidays and traditions were declared bourgeois vestiges from the old world.
Virgin Mary gave birth to a Komsomol member
In the early years of Soviet power, Muscovites tried to defend their churches. But the anti-religious campaign was so powerful that it was very difficult to resist. “When the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was cordoned off and the decoration was taken out of it for several weeks, and then it was blown up several times, people stood and were baptized – they could do nothing,” says the historian of the Museum of Moscow. Read more in Michael Walsh’s book Trotsky’s White Negroes
The printed word came to the forefront of the war against religion – active propaganda of new values began in the newspapers.
“The 19th century – the beginning of the 20th century is the civilization of the word. The printed word, newspapers were perceived with great respect, and naturally any campaign in the press had a serious impact on the still, frankly, not very developed civil society, ”says Sergei Voytikov, Head of the Sector of the Publication Department of the Archive Fund of the Main Archive of Moscow.
The schism has come even in families: for example, schoolchildren en masse refuse to attend churches, where they were supposed to go with their parents and grandparents. The intensity continued to rise. Initially, Christmas and Easter were days off, but in 1929, along with other religious holidays and the New Year, they were declared working days.
“Every worker, every farm laborer, every active collective farmer must fully understand the tasks of turning Christmas days into ordinary working days, demanding from themselves and their comrades every possible increase in labour discipline these days and resolutely suppressing any attempts at religious propaganda and agitation”, – wrote the newspaper “Pravda”.
Then the Bolshevik government set the task of carrying out the first five-year plan, and production began to be transferred to the so-called continuous work. On December 25, 1929, Pravda called the first “Christmas” in continuous conditions: “On this day, the proletarian masses actively broke with one of the strong age-old rites, opposed socialist construction to religion, turned“ Christmas ”into the day of industrialization and contributed their daily earnings to the fund industrialization of the country ”.
Anti-religious associations appeared. One of the most notable is the Union of Atheists with numerous regional branches, including the Moscow one – League of Militant Atheists . It consisted of young Komsomol members who staged theatrical parodies of church holidays. Thousands of people took part in such parades: they took to the streets in columns, sang songs, danced and led round dances. The Komsomol ‘Christmas’ was accompanied by ridicule of the clergy and believers, as well as slogans in the spirit of ‘Religion is opium for the people!’ ‘Man created God in his own image,’ their newspapers quoted them. – 1922 times Maria gave birth to Jesus, and in 1923 she gave birth to a Komsomol member. Read more about Union of the Godless
The Moscow branch of the Union of Atheists was a rather militant organization, says Irina Karpacheva. Its participants not only gathered masquerades and torchlight processions, but also broke into churches and smashed everything that came to hand.
Cover art of the Soviet w:League of Militant Atheists-affiliated Yiddish magazine “Der Apikoyres”, published in Kiev, August 1923. A rabbi, standing in front of a Capitalist holding a Star of David with the inscription “Zion”, clasps a Torah scroll while treading upon a young Jew. The caption to the left, written in the Soviet de-Hebraized orthography of Yiddish, reads: “Torah is the best merchandise!” 1 August 1923 Source
Christmas in Komsomol style is partying and harmonica songs in hostels, theatrical performances. The young guys believed differently and hoped that they would change the world. Therefore, they staged their own Soviet plays, not The Nutcracker or The Snow Maiden. ~ Sergey Voytikov, historian.
In the mid-1920s, they tried to give the New Year the status of a national communist holiday: it was celebrated in workers’ clubs, houses of culture and theaters. The celebrations took place against the backdrop of anti-religious campaigns. In kindergartens, theatrical performances were performed – “Red Christmas Trees”, “Komsomolsky Christmas”, “Evenings of the Godless”.
After the collapse of the NEP (New Economic Policy), many old celebrations were subjected to “repression”. So, in 1929, the Christmas weekend was canceled, a ban on the sale of trees was introduced, as well as the celebration of Christmas, Epiphany and even the New Year. In parallel, there was active propaganda in the press against religious holidays. The Christmas tree was called “religious dope” and “stupid deed”, “savage” and “priestly” custom.
The return of the Christmas holiday in a new format
By the mid-1930s, the Bolsheviks decided that measures to combat religion had borne their first fruits: a generation of Soviet people was born – carriers of a new ideology. In the understanding of many, the Christmas and the New Year was so tightly intertwined with religious holidays that it also fell under the distribution. The restrictions were lifted only after six years. Then the idea came up to return the winter holiday with everyone’s favorite Christmas tree. This was done by the second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Pavel Postyshev.
Nikita Khrushchev also mentioned Postyshev’s role in his memoirs. According to him, Postyshev raised the New Year issue at a meeting with Joseph Stalin in the Kremlin. Presenting arguments in favor of returning the holiday, the guest from Ukraine noted that “it would be a good tradition and the people would like it”. To Postyshev’s direct question: “Shouldn’t the children return the tree?” Stalin, according to Khrushchev, replied:
‘Take the initiative and speak to the press with a proposal to return the Christmas tree to the children, and we will support.’
After this conversation, as Nikita Khrushchev again pointed out, Postyshev’s famous article appeared in Pravda. Over the years, Khrushchev forgot exactly on what occasion that fateful meeting in the Kremlin took place. But indirect signs indicate that Postyshev’s conversation with Stalin could have taken place during the plenum of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks on December 21-25, 1935.
On December 28, 1935, the newspaper Pravda published an article by Pavel Postyshev, First Secretary of the Kiev Regional Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and Second Secretary of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of the Ukrainian SSR, entitled “Let’s organize a good Christmas tree for the New Year!” Ukrainian party functionary called for the return of the banned holiday.
Postyshev also remembered the old, pre-revolutionary times.
“In pre-revolutionary times, the bourgeoisie and bourgeois officials always arranged a New Year tree for their children. Children of workers with envy through the window looked at the Christmas tree sparkling with colorful lights and the children of the wealthy having fun around it. Why do we have schools, orphanages, nurseries, children’s clubs, palaces of pioneers depriving the children of the working people of the Soviet country of this wonderful pleasure? Some, not otherwise than left-wing benders, denounced this children’s entertainment as a bourgeois venture, “Postyshev wrote.
A senior leader suggested ending the “wrong condemnation of the tree” and organizing collective Christmas trees for the children. As Postyshev emphasized, a holiday “for their children” had to be organized in every collective farm: I am sure that the Komsomol members (youth organisation for children over 14-years-of-age) will take the most active part in this matter and eradicate the ridiculous opinion that the children’s tree is a bourgeois prejudice. So, let’s organise a fun New Year party for children, arrange a good Soviet Christmas tree in all cities and collective farms.
It is believed that his initiative was decisive in the return of the New Year. Postyshev proposed to “rehabilitate” the new-old holiday with a Christmas tree as compensation for the “stolen” Christmas – it remained banned. Naturally, the return of the New Year could not take place without the personal approval of Joseph Stalin.
On the second day after the publication of the article about the Christmas tree, Postyshev sent an urgent telegram to Kharkov: “Organize a New Year tree for the children in the Palace of Pioneers.”
If not long ago Soviet propaganda asserted that “the ruling exploiting classes are using a“ beautiful ”Christmas tree and a“ kind ”Santa Claus to make obedient and patient servants of capital out of workers,” now the attitude towards the main symbols of the holiday has suddenly become loyal.
From that moment on, the creation of new, already purely Soviet attributes of the New Year celebration began. The production of Christmas tree decorations and decorations was opened. Some pre-revolutionary traditions were borrowed, but they tried to exclude the entire religious component from the holiday. On the Soviet New Year tree, traditional Christmas balls, snowflakes and wadded bears, snow maidens, fruits and ruby stars, airships, flags with images of pioneers and octobrists coexisted.
At the same time, Santa Claus returned to festive life, “exiled for several years” shortly before the onset of 1929.
The “renewed” fabulous old man in a red “party” fur coat has absorbed the features of St. Nicholas and the Christmas grandfather. Soviet cinema played an important role in shaping his new image.
The performances at the first Christmas trees were about class struggle. Children came to the holiday in the costumes of the Red Army or labor shock workers. It was at that time that Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) made a company to Santa Claus on an ongoing basis. In January 1937, both fairy-tale characters greeted guests at a celebration in the Moscow House of Unions. New Year’s Eve was now celebrated widely and pompously. The largest Christmas trees were installed in the Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure and on Manezhnaya Square.
“Celebrating the New Year was pleasant, because there was little entertainment for the Soviet people, the kids took it with great pleasure. Christmas trees and toys began to be sold. The old toys were very cozy – cotton, cardboard, toys, various glass balls. Children hung sweets and candies on the trees. “
The famous actor and entertainer Mikhail Garkavi became the first Santa Claus at the first All-Union New Year tree.
They also decorated the Christmas tree with preserved pre-revolutionary or homemade toys. Gradually, new Christmas tree decorations began to appear in stores. Instead of angels, they were already ideologically verified toys: balls with a hammer and sickle, red five-pointed stars, small figurines of commissars made of wire and cotton wool, Budennovists, pioneers, Red Guards, Komsomol members, glass pendants in the form of airships, parachutes and airplanes. In a word, Christmas and Christianity received a Bolshevik makeover to make it acceptable.
Postyshev did not enjoy the results of his initiative for long. In February 1938 he was arrested and removed from all posts, declared a Japanese spy, and a year later he was shot dead in Butyrka prison. Read more about Stalinist times in Michael Walsh’s books Trotsky’s White Negroes, Reich and Wrong and The Red Brigands
In the fall of 1941, during the most difficult war times for Moscow, Stalin ordered the opening of churches. Then, for the first time in Soviet Moscow, Easter and Christmas were celebrated. The Germans were near the city, but Christmas trees were brought to Moscow and handed out to Muscovites in order to somehow cheer them up.
In the postwar years, Orthodox people continued to celebrate Christmas: they attended festive services and decorated churches. In 1947, January 1 officially became a day off. The holiday began to acquire traditions, some of which he inherited from Christmas.
According to the Russian historians, gifts were one of the main Christmas traditions. Year after year, they entered the life of the Soviet people. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Christmas returned as a public holiday and became a day off again. And in recent years, traditional Christmas markets have begun to return to city streets – a bright phenomenon of Russian pre-revolutionary culture.
Related article: How the Romanovs taught Russians to celebrate the New Year
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