Thursday, December 20, 2018

Under Putin, Even New Year’s Trees Being Used to Celebrate Great Victory of 1945

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 18 – “Imperial schizophrenia,” the editors of Censoru.Net write,” is an extremely interesting illness but unfortunately has up to now been little studied,” despite ever more manifestations of it in Russian life, including the transformation of New Year’s trees into Victory trees celebrating the Soviet triumph in the Great Fatherland War.

            “Any ideology is based not on truth but on myths and stories,” the portal says; and its myths have a tendency to spread throughout society. That is what is happening with the mythology around the Great Victory of 1945 – and in unexpected and even disturbing ways (

            One way is to have the myth penetrate into holidays unconnected one would think with it. And that is happening with New Year’s celebrations as young people are being encouraged to link New Year’s trees with the victory by decorating them appropriately and using the decorations as occasions to talk not about the future but about the past.

            Moscow’s Museum of Victory started this process last year by using its New Year’s tree to train guides and youth group leaders about 1945. Now, they are fanning out into society and encouraging young Pioneers and others to decorate their trees accordingly and think about events long before they were born and of which few survivors remain.

            The New Year’s tree is to become a Victory Tree, and those who hear such appeals are intended to fall into “a patriotic ecstasy.”  Whether that happens or whether such ideological overreach will have just the opposite effect, of course, depends on the individual and thus remains to be seen.

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