Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Christmas according to Marx and Lenin by Ronald Reagan

Posted by faithandthelaw on December 24, 2010

www.LC.org

Orlando, FL – Between his campaign against President Gerald Ford in 1975-76 and his race against Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan delivered more than 1,000 radio broadcasts, running about three minutes each, writing nearly all of them himself. In one broadcast during the Christmas season, Mr. Reagan told a story about Christmas in the Ukraine before and after Communism.

In an effort to resist Christians, Communist leaders secularized a favorite Ukrainian Christmas carol, “Nova Radist Stala” (Joyous News Has Come to Us). The original song began with these words: “The joyous news has come which never was before. Over a cave above a manger a bright star has lit the world, where Jesus was born from a virgin maiden, …” Communists feared the public outcry that would follow a complete ban on Christmas, so they began to slowly secularize the holiday. The first rewrite of the song began: “The joyous news has come which never was before, a red star with five tails has brightly lit the world.” The second rewrite went further: “The joyous news has come which never was before. Long-awaited star of freedom lit the skies in October [the month of the Revolution]. Where formerly lived the kings and had the roots their nobles, there today with simple folks, Lenin’s glory hovers.”

The former Soviet Union eventually began banning Christmas commemorations. St. Nicholas was replaced with “Did Moroz,” or Grandfather Frost. This Stalinist creation wears a red cap and long white beard of Santa Claus, but he delivers gifts to children on New Year’s Eve. Christmas trees were also banned, but people continued to trim their New Year’s trees. Communism folded all Christmas celebrations into a New Year celebration.

Christians in the former Soviet Union exhibited bravery and courage in confronting Communism’s anti-Christmas campaign. One person recalled how the young people would go out in the streets and sing Christmas carols, knowing that if police heard them, they would be arrested. In Communist Romania, Rev. Geza Palffy, a Roman Catholic priest, delivered a sermon in 1983, protesting against the fact that December 25th had been declared a work day instead of a holiday. The next day he was arrested by secret police, beaten, imprisoned and died. Inside and outside the Iron Curtain, Ukrainians never stopped singing: “We beg you our Lord, we pray to you today. Grant us freedom, return glory to our Mother Ukraine.” Mr. Reagan ended his broadcast: “I guess we all hope their prayer is answered.” Indeed it was.

The secularization of Christmas is nothing new. Christianity Today in 2002 reported that in the Vietnamese province of Dak Lak, children’s choirs were forbidden to sing “Silent Night.” From 1969 to 1997, Christmas was banned in Cuba. Such examples are endless.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “The war against Christmas is nothing new. Repressive forces have always had the same goal – to first secularize and then to eliminate Christmas. We must never take our freedom for granted.”

Here is the text of Ronald Reagan’ s speech:

Ronald Reagan’s Radio Program on Christmas under Communism

“Someone sent me a Christmas item – yes, a Christmas item. It is ‘The Nativity According to Marx & Lenin.’ I’ll be right back.

In these few months since the holidays, I’ve told a couple of Christmas stories on these broadcasts and, as a result, received one in return. Or possibly it was because of a broadcast about the Ukraine. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for it.

When the Ukraine was free and not under Soviet bondage, Christmas was, of course, the religious event that it is in the Western world. A favorite Ukrainian carol was ‘Nova Radist Stala’ — ‘The Joyous News Has Come To Us.’ A Ukrainian now teaching at the University of Utah has written an article about the evolution of Christmas under Communism, at least as it applies to this carol. In the good days of freedom, the people of the Ukraine sang these verses:

The joyous news has come which never was before. Over a cave above a manger a bright star has lit the world, where Jesus was born from a virgin maiden, clad in raiment poor like a peasant baby, the shepherds with the lambs surrounded the child, and on flected knees they Him glorified. We beg you our King, we pray to you today, grant happiness and joy to this family.

Now, of course, this was neither fitting nor permitted under Communism. Still the commissars were a little leery about an outright ban. They chose to allow the song after some rewriting. In fact, they provided the Ukrainians with two versions, neither of which could be expected to have made the Ukrainian Hit Parade. Here’s the first version:

‘The joyous news has come which never was before, a red star with five tails has brightly lit the world.” See they only changed one line in that verse, but wait —

The altars have crumbled and all the kings have fallen, glory to the working people, to shepherds and the plowmen, glory to our host and to his fair hostess. May their friendly household know only happiness. May all their family, especially the children, grow up to be strong and happy so as to fight the rich men.

You know, our own kids could probably get away with singing that one in the classroom. The second version is a little meatier, even though they got the Christmas story down to two verses instead of four.

‘The Joyous News has come which never was before. Long-awaited star of freedom lit the skies in October.'(If you’re wondering about what happened on the date, the revolution took place in October.) ‘Where formerly lived the kings and had the roots their nobles, there today with simple folks, Lenin’s glory hovers.’

The people of the Ukraine, both in and outside the Iron Curtain, were so carried away by these verses, they added one of their own. They sing it, but carefully refrain from putting it in the songbooks. It goes: ‘We beg you our Lord, we pray to you today. Grant us freedom, return glory to our Mother Ukraine.’ I guess we all hope their prayer is answered.

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