For poets, priests, and politicians--and especially ordinary
Germans--in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the image of
the loving nuclear family gathered around the Christmas tree
symbolized the unity of the nation at large. German Christmas was
supposedly organic, a product of the winter solstice rituals of
pagan "Teutonic" tribes, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and
the age-old customs that defined German character. Yet, as Joe
Perry argues, Germans also used these annual celebrations to
contest the deepest values that held the German community together:
faith, family, and love, certainly, but also civic responsibility,
material prosperity, and national belonging.
This richly illustrated volume explores the invention, evolution,
and politicization of Germany's favorite national holiday.
According to Perry, Christmas played a crucial role in public
politics, as revealed in the militarization of "War Christmas"
during World War I and World War II, the Nazification of Christmas
by the Third Reich, and the political manipulation of Christmas
during the Cold War. Perry offers a close analysis of the impact of
consumer culture on popular celebration and the conflicts created
as religious, commercial, and political authorities sought to
control the holiday's meaning. By unpacking the intimate links
between domestic celebration, popular piety, consumer desires, and
political ideology, Perry concludes that family festivity was
central in the making and remaking of public national