08 December 2006

Traditional Yuletide Celebrations

The lead article in this month's Fortean Times reminds me, oddly enough, of our recent discussion of shared themes in The Wicker Man and The Prisoner. There J-P suggests that both Summerisle and the Village represent countercultures become mainstream, rebellion becoming authority -- a familiar idea to anyone with a passing interest in Soviet history.

FT's article on Hitler's attempts to replace the German Christmas with an all-Aryan patriotic winter festival, with rituals based loosely on the Norse winter festivities, reminds me that the Nazis, like the Summerisle family, had a yen for neo-pagan reconstructionism. It may be that Summerisle's attempts to replicate "the old religion", and the twentieth-century totalitarian states of which the Village is a microcosm, might not have seemed that far apart to scriptwriters who'd been paying attention during the 1930s.

(I don't have any further conclusions to draw from that, I just thought it was interesting.)

FT's editorial, taking its cue from the lead article, concerns recent campaigns by groups such as the Christian-Muslim Forum to counter the insidious liberal-secular conspiracy to "abolish Christmas" for fear of offending other faiths. By a weird coincidence, it arrived the same day as both The Guardian and Andrew Rilstone ran lengthy articles refuting the idea that any such conspiracy exists, and pointing out that the "evidence" for it is, by and large, absolute bollocks. Both pieces are worth reading.

I've sent a letter to the editors expressing surprise that Fortean Times, of all publications, is unable to spot an urban myth when it sees one.

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