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Been doing some reading on Santa Claus. It is actually an extremely interesting topic.

It is interesting and it is so complicated that one can write whole books about it, but here is a short version that covers the main points of what I have learned so far (by all means, correct me if I am wrong about anything):

The modern Santa Claus as he appears in North America is based on a couple of different sources. The most recent is Saint Nikolas, who was the bishop of the city Myra in the 4th century in what was then Greece and what is now Turkey. He was known to have given gifts to poor children. There exists a holiday in his honor in much of Europe which is on the 6th of December. Saint Nicolas comes and gives gifts to well behaved children, and his assistant "Servant Ruprecht" brings wooden rods with which he beats the non-behaved children.

The tradition was carried to the United States by immigrants from Holland. In their language the name of Saint Nicolas is pronounced "Sinterklaas" which became Santa Claus in English. Santa Claus both punishes and rewards, so there isn't an additional figure such as Ruprecht in the USA.

That does not explain why the date is 25th of December though, and it doesn't explain the other features of Santa Claus, such as the reindeers and that he lives on the North Pole. And here is where it gets interesting.

Far before the 4th century, so before there was a Saint Nicolas, there already existed a holiday on the 25th of December, which was called Yuletide and which was dedicated to the Germanic god Odin (father of gods). It was believed that on the 25th of December he lead a procession of spirits which went from house to house and gave gifts to children. He was very powerful and could see everything that people did ("he knows if you've been bad or good". Pictures of him showed him as an old man with a long white beard. It is very likely that this is the reason the date was moved to the 25th. What is funny is that Santa Claus now comes on the 6th of December and on the 25th of December in many parts of Europe. The American Santa is referred to as the "Christmas man", while Saint Nicolas is simply "Nikolaus".

But there is more. Odin rode a horse and not a reindeer. The reindeers and the fact that Santa lives at the North Pole likely have a different origin: In most of Eastern Europe there is an old tradition which says that on New Years Eve a being known as "Father Frost" come and brings gifts. He leads a procession of reindeers and it is likely that the reindeers are based on this tradition. Also, Father Frost is believed to be an embodiment of the Winter. This is likely the origin of the belief that Santa lives at the North Pole.

What is also interesting is that the modern design of Santa Claus with the red fur coat, was influenced by the Coca Cola company who made him a trademark in 1931. Older depictions of Saint Nicolas have a different design (he wears bishops clothes).

In any case, even though the origins of the details of the modern Santa are very complicated, it is clear that for literally thousands of years, in many different places of the world, people in one way or another have believed in a powerful old man which shows up in the deepest winter to bring gifts and have held a celebration in his honor.

And now some pics.

This is father frost:

These are illustrations of Saint Nicolas /Sinterclaas:

Here is Odin:

Here is modern Santa:

Posted by redgreenandblue | Thu Dec 26, 2013, 10:22 AM (19 replies)

Assorted quotes by Fascists or about Fascism

I did a bit of online research on short and pronounced quotes surrounding the topic of Fascism. I've compiled a list of some that stood out to me as relevant to current times.
Most of them are by rather famous people. Thought I'd share it with Democratic Underground.


14 Characteristics of Fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism
6. Controlled Mass Media
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
9. Corporate Power is Protected
10. Labor Power is Suppressed 
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment 
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14. Fraudulent Elections

„The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist. „
--Winston Churchill

„All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those toward whom it is directed will understand it... Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.“
--Adolf Hitler

„Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of 'emergency'. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. In the collectivist sweep over a dozen minor countries of Europe, it was the cry of men striving to get on horseback. And 'emergency' became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains. „
--Herbert Hoover

„Whenever justice is uncertain and police spying and terror are at work, human beings fall into isolation, which, of course, is the aim and purpose of the dictator state, since it is based on the greatest possible accumulation of depotentiated social units. „
--Carl Gustav Jung

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
-- Hermann Goering

 “Education is dangerous - Every educated person is a future enemy”
-- Hermann Goering

“Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”
-- Arthur Schopenhauer

„Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself. „
--Henry A. Wallace

„Fascism is capitalism in decay.“
--Vladimir Lenin

„Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.“ --Benito Mussolini

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group,”
--Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fascism in power is the open, terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, the most imperialistic elements of finance capitalism.
-- Karl Marx
(On edit: An error of mine. As was pointed out in the replies "This was said by the Executive Committee of the Communist International in 1935. Georgi Dimitrov of Bulgaria is the likely author." )

The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.
--Thomas Jefferson

Fascism, at any rate the German version, is a form of capitalism that borrows from Socialism just such features as will make it efficient for war purposes.
--George Orwell

Though we know that National Socialist power must be broken by military means, we are trying to achieve a renewal from within of the severely wounded German spirit. This rebirth must be preceded, however, by the clear recognition of all the guilt with which the German people have burdened themselves, and by an uncompromising battle against Hitler and his all too many minions…
--The White Rose

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
–Thomas Jefferson
Posted by redgreenandblue | Sat Mar 24, 2012, 10:58 AM (15 replies)

Spinning Business as Usual - What, me lie? (Article on military conditioning)

Spinning Business as Usual

What, me lie?


I remember being a young Marine recruit at Parris Island, August of 1966, running, running, boots thumping on the grinder, exulting in the sense of power and communion that comes of men acting in unison, shouting, “Luke the Gook comes marching by, stick your bayonet in his eye, lef rye lef rye lef....” Only an idiot goes to PI—Third Batallion, Disneyland, in my case—in August. I was one. It goes with being nineteen.

Under a leaden sun that beat down like a soft rubber truncheon, we unlearned civilization. How to clap a hand over a sentry's mouth while inserting your Kbar in his kidney; agony, shock and instant blood loss prevent a struggle. We ran in formation shouting Kill! Kill! Kill! We learned that it is better to shoot an enemy in the bowels than the head because trying to keep him alive would strain the enemy's medical resources, and the man would probalby die anyway. Peritonitis is your friend, we learned. The other guy's peritonitis.

Months later at Lejeune we slogged day after day, on three and a half hours sleep, through the greasy clay mud of a North Carolina autumn, from range to range. We learned flame throwers, which if you haven't you don't know what hell is, and how to burn the enemy alive. Again, that sense of power. We learned to use white phosphorus, WP, Willy Peter or other names less printable, to cover enemies in burning goop that you can't put out. We learned to be what human beings shouldn't be. We felt an exhilarating freedom, of not being subject to moral constraints. We learned to suppress conscience, morality, and empathy. This, more than the use of weapons, is the goal of military training. ...
Posted by redgreenandblue | Wed Mar 14, 2012, 04:24 PM (0 replies)
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