Taking Christ out of Christmas
WE hear many reports from what must be admitted to be hostile sources of the propaganda fight which is being carried on against Christianity in the Iron Curtain countries. But Communist sympathisers often reject them in public argument because of their origins.
All the more interesting, therefore, is an article entitled "Winter Customs in Bulgaria," which appears in the January issue of Bulgaria Today, published in Bulgaria and distributed by the Bulgarian Legation here. It says: "While a number of other holidays in the year connected with peculiar beliefs are entirely disappearing with the ever deeper penetration of culture into the remotest corners of the country, customs connected with Christmas and certain other winter feast days are being given a new, contemporary content, which gives them a new sense and makes of them a means for propagating new ideas."
The writer, Hristo Vakarelsky, gives an example of a carol brought up to date : In its old form it was as follows: "We have heard, so we have come, Stannenine, young sir,
That you have a little son With lips of gold and hands of silver;
Wheneer he speaks, his words are golden, Whate'er he touches turns to silver.
We have come to fetch him, To fetch him, make a king of him,
His army to drill, his horse to saddle . . ."
Today this lovely carol has been given a new content. The Heavenly Father has become an earthly one, the Babe a child of the new Communist Bulgaria.
It is now sung, says the writer approvingly, as follows: "We have heard and have discovered,
That you have a little boy.
Give him hither, let him come, Come with us to be our president."
Says Mr. Vakarelsky solemnly: "President of the co-operative farm or of the village council is to be understood here. "
And he adds: "Having sprung up once on a time as a magical means of influencing fate, in the days of primitive man, made use of later with a religious purpose among the Christians, Christmas customs in our country are today most naturally assuming an educative and propaganda character."
Mr. Vakarelsky is described as "Senior Collaborator of the Ethnographical Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences."
A SMALL group of parishioners of rithe Church of Our Lady of Willesden applied to the local public library for a list of its Catholic books. They received in due course 50 copies of a splendidly compiled and roneoed list of some 500 titles arranged alphabetically under the names of both books and authors.
It is a list which would be a credit to any local Catholic library. Yet I doubt whether any Catholic in the area had realised just how many such books were available—and all for a fees pence a year.
la Canterbury, the local public litsislrian regularly supplies details of new Catholic books which have been purchased, for publication in the parish magazine.
It is easy enough to be sensitive about the anti-Catholic discrimination which does, of course, still reveal itself from time to time, as all of us know. But how many of us make use of the facilities—and the willing co-operation—which are available all the time?
T HEARD this week from Mr. K. V. 1Thomas, the planter from South India who called on me last autumn and asked me to appeal for Catholic pamphlets and periodicals to combat the influence of the Communist Clioteurnattryure which is now flooding the On another page we publish a picture which he sent me, showing the Way in which readers reacted to the appeal.
Mr. Thomas says that he is trying to reply to as many people as possible, and adds : "If any benefactor has not received my reply, let me acknowledge with thanks through your paper."
He is finding the periodicals and pamphlets particularly useful, and now has more than 100 libraries and organisations on his list to whom he supplies literature. Newspapers, he says, tend to become dated, as the larger parcels take some five or six weeks to arrive.
During recent weeks readers of this column have also similarly adopted a number of other Catholics in India and a great many students in Ceylon. The la t ter have been "adopted" by people who have taken OUI CATHOLIC HERALD postal subscriptions on their behalf.
For others who would like to help Mr. Thomas's scheme by sending C.T.S. and other pamphlets, and Catholic magazines and periodicals, his address is: Trivandrum Post Office, Travancore-Cochin, Southern India. To save postage, parcels should be left open at one end and sent at printed paper rate.
CATHOLIC HERkLD postal subscriptions for overseas are 17s. 4d. per annum, and should be sent to this office.
The idea of sending Catholic literature to the Indian danger spot has caught readers' imagination, I think, because it gives them an opportunity to participate directly in the great struggle which otherwise seems perhaps somewhat remote at times.