Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Things You Find in Your Collection

I was weeding our holiday books and I came across a rather lovely old book published about a small village in Sweden celebrating Christmas. Christmas in a Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren (author best known for her Pippi Longstocking series). I flipped through the book and was rather surprised to find Star of David ornaments on the tree.

I did a quick search on the Internet and discovered that homemade straw ornaments are traditional, but couldn’t find out why they would have displayed Star of David ornaments. I did, however, discover that it is also a tradition to burn candles in the window and currently it is very popular to display a 7 candle candelabra. When I looked up pictures was struck by its similarity to a Menorah. I mean it isn't exact or anything, it's actually more like the reverse of a Menorah.

So what exactly is going on here? I would love to find out what the historical basis of this is. Is there some sort of appropriation of Jewish culture by Christians in Sweden? Was there a large hidden/underground Jewish population that remained so after the Holocaust ended (the book was originally published in 1963)?

I also found it interesting that a series of stamps based on Christmas in a Noisy Village was released in 2005. Strangely, the Star of David ornaments have been removed from the image. Perhaps the stamp artist said what the eff people and got rid of them?

I suppose that it is entirely possible the original illustrator was ignorant that the stars he/she was drawing were Stars of David. But speculating made my afternoon vastly more interesting than it would have been otherwise. Oh the things you find when you weed your collection!

[As an aside, I have a very strong memory of renting Pippi Longstocking VHS tapes from the department store that my dad worked at. I know that sounds unlikely, but I swear that they used to rent out movies...Of course, my mom claims no knowledge of this whatsoever and so now I really do wonder if it actually happened or if I somehow managed to completely manufacture these memories.]

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