Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib
The Christmas Festival In The Changing Course Of Time
Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document
The Christmas Festival In The Changing Course Of Time
Schmidt Number: S-2333
On-line since: 10th December, 2003
When we wander at this time of year through the streets of large
cities, we find them full of all sorts of things which our
contemporaries want to have for their celebration of the approaching
Christmas festival. Indeed, it is one of the greatest festivals of the
year which humanity can celebrate: the festival which commemorates the
most powerful impulse in the evolution of mankind. And yet, if we
contemplate what will take place in the coming days in large cities
such as ours, we may well ask: Does all of this correspond rightly to
what is meant to flow through the souls and hearts of man?
If we don't give ourselves up to illusions but simply face the truth,
then perhaps we cannot help but admit to ourselves: All these
preparations and celebrations of the Christmas festival which we see
in our time fit in very poorly on the one hand with all other
happenings of modern civilization around us; and on the other hand
they fit in equally poorly with what should live in the depth of the
human heart as a commemorative thought of the greatest impulse which
humanity received in the course of its evolution.
So it is perhaps no overstatement if we express the following view:
There is a lack of harmony in what our eyes perceive, when we wish to
permeate ourselves with the Christmas mood, and wish to receive this
Christmas mood from what we can see in today's environment. There is a
discord in seeing the streets bedecked with Christmas trees and other
decorations in preparation for the festival, and then seeing modern
traffic rushing through the midst of it all. And if modern man does
not feel the full extent of this discord, the reason may well be that
he has disaccustomed himself to be sensitive to all the depth and
intimacy which can be connected with this approaching festival. Of all
that the Christmas festival can do to deepen man's inner nature,
basically no more is left today, especially for the city dweller, than
a last faint echo. He is hardly in a position to feel even vaguely its
former greatness. His habits prevent him from perceiving this
greatness any longer, a greatness to which humanity had become
accustomed in the course of centuries.
It would be totally wrong if we would look with pessimism at the fact
that times have changed, and that in our modern cities it has become
impossible to develop that mood of profound intimacy which prevailed
in earlier times with regard to this festival. It would not be right
to allow such a pessimistic mood to arise, for at the same time we can
feel an intimation in our circles this feeling should certainly
be present that humanity can once again come to experience the
full depth and greatness of the impulse which belongs to this
festival. Seeking souls have every reason to ask themselves:
What can this Christ festival mean to us?. And in their
hearts they can admit: Precisely through Spiritual Science something
will be given to humanity, which will bring again, in the fullest
sense of the word, that depth and greatness which cannot be any more
today. If we don't succumb to illusion and phantasy we must admit that
these can no longer exist at present. What has become often a mere
festival of gifts cannot be said to have the same meaning as what the
Christmas festival meant to people for many centuries in the past.
Through the celebration of this festival the souls used to blossom
forth with hope-filled joy, with hope-borne certainty, and with the
awareness of belonging to a spiritual Being, Who descended from
Spiritual heights, and united Himself with the earth, so that every
human soul of good will may share in His powers. Indeed, for many
centuries the celebration of this festival awakened in the souls of
men the consciousness that the individual human soul can feel firmly
supported by the spiritual power just described, and that all men of
good will can find themselves gathered together in the service of this
spiritual power. Thereby they can also find together the right ways of
life on earth, so that they can mean humanly as much as possible to
one another, so that they can love each other as human beings on earth
as much as possible.
Suppose we find it appropriate to let the following comparison work on
our souls: What has the Christmas festival been for many centuries,
and what should it become in the future? To this end, let us compare,
on the one hand, the mood which social custom creates nowadays in
certain parts of the world around us, with the mood that once
permeated the Christmas festival. On the other hand, let us compare
this mood of the present time with what can come about in the soul as
a renewal of this festival, made as it were timeless, through
For a modern urban dweller it is hardly possible to appreciate truly
the full depth of what is connected with our great seasonal festivals.
It is hardly possible to experience that magic which like a gentle
breeze permeated the mood of soul of those who believed that they bore
the Christ in their hearts during the great festivities surrounding
Christmas or Easter. Today it has become very difficult indeed,
especially for the city dweller, to sense anything of this magic,
which permeated humanity like a gentle spiritual breeze during those
seasons. For those who have had the opportunity of experiencing even a
little of this magic wind which permeated the soul mood in those times
this will most certainly be a wonderful, glorious memory. As a young
child I was able to behold the last remnants of such a magic wind as
it permeated the souls, the mood, of country folk in certain remote
German villages. When the Christmas season approached I could behold
how something arose in the deepest, innermost soul life of young and
old, which differed essentially from the feelings and sentiments that
prevailed during the rest of the year. When Christmas approached this
could still be sensed quite distinctly in certain farming villages as
recently as a few decades ago. The souls had then a natural way of
making themselves inwardly beautiful. And they really felt something
like this: Into deepest night-enveloped darkness has the
physical sunlight descended during autumn. More outer physical
darkness has come about. Long have the nights become, shortened are
the days. We must stay home much of the time. During the other seasons
we used to go outside, to the fields, where we would feel the golden
rays of the morning sun coming to meet us, where we could feel the
warmth of the sun, where we could work with our hands during the long
days of summer. But now, we must sit inside much of the time, we must
feel much, much darkness around us, and we must often see, as we look
outside through windows, how the earth is being covered with its
It is not possible to depict in detail all the beautiful, the
wonderful soul moods which awoke in the simplest farm homes on Sunday
afternoons and evenings as the Christmas season approached. One would
have to depict very intimate soul moods. One would have to tell how
many, who had been involved in a good share of fights and mischief
during the rest of the year, would feel a natural restraint in their
souls, as a result of being filled with the thought: The time of
Christ draws near. They would feel: Time itself is becoming too
holy to allow mischief to occur during this season. That is
only a minor aspect of what was extensively present in past centuries,
and what could still be seen in its last remnants in those remote
villages in recent decades. When the celebration of Christmas
retreated into the homes as a family festival you would see there no
more than a little display representing the stable in Bethlehem. The
children would enjoy everything connected with it, as they saw Joseph
and Mary, with the shepherds in front, and the angels above, sometimes
done in a very primitive way. In some villages you would find such a
display of the manger in almost every home. What had thus
retreated into the homes was more or less a last echo of something
which we will touch upon later. And when the main days of the
Christmas festival, the 25th and 26th of December, had passed and
Epiphany, the festival of the Three Kings, approached, you could still
see a few decades ago small groups of actors wandering from village to
village the last actors to present plays of the Holy
Story. The actual Christmas plays had already become quite rare,
but a last echo of The Play of the Three Kings could often
still be seen, as it might be even today (1910) in some remote
villages. There were the Three Holy Kings, wearing strange
costumes, different for each one, with paper crowns and a star on
their heads. Thus would they move through the villages, seldom lacking
humor, but with humor and reverence together. With their primitive
voices they would awaken all those feelings which the soul should feel
in connection with what the Bible tells of the great Christ Impulse of
The essential thing is that a mood prevailed during the
Christmas season, the days and weeks surrounding the Christmas
festival, to which the heart was given over, a mood in which the whole
village would participate, and which enabled people to take in with
simple immediacy all the representations that were brought before
their souls. Grotesque, comedy-like presentations of sacred scenes,
such as have become customary in our time in imitation of the Passion
Plays of Oberammergau, would have met with no understanding in those
days. The memory and the thought of the great periods of humanity were
then still alive. It would have been impossible to find anyone willing
to experience the events of the Holy Night and of the Three Kings
during any other days of the year. And it would have been just as
impossible to accept the Passion story at any other time but Easter.
People felt united with what spoke to them from the stars, the weeks,
the seasons, what spoke out of snow and sunshine. And they listened to
tales of what they wanted to feel and should feel, when the so-called
Star-Singers went around, wearing paper crowns on their
heads, and lately wearing simply a white jacket. One of them used to
carry a star, attached to a scissor-like device, so that he could
project the star some distance out. Thus they would wander through the
villages, stopping at various homes, to present their simple tales.
What mattered most was that just at this time people's hearts were
rightly attuned, so that they were able to take in everything that was
supposed to permeate their souls during this season. I myself have
still heard quite a few times these Star-Singers, reciting
their simple poems as they wandered through the villages, and this is
for me still a beautiful memory. An example follows *:
In God's Name now our tale begins.
From Orient came the Holy Kings.
They ride with speed on distant ways,
Four hundred miles in thirteen days.
They ride by Herod's palace-walls
As Herod from his window calls:
Whither go ye, relax your speed!
To Bethlehem our journey does lead.
Ye Holy Three Kings be guests of mine,
I will draw plenty of beer and wine,
I will serve venison roast and fish;
To know of the newborn king is my wish.
In truth, we cannot tell just where;
We have to follow the star we bear:
Over the house the star will shine bright.
Over the mountains the holy men ride.
There found they Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Who is the Savior of all the world.
*From Deutsche Weihnachtspiele aus Ungarn, described and
communicated by Karl Julius Schröer, Vienna, 1862,
Oberschützener Sternsinger (The Star-Singers of
Oberschützen), p. 160.
The whole village would take part in such things. As certain lines
were recited the star would be projected far out. This star of
Christmas, of the Three Kings, was an expression of the consonance of
the season, the festivity, and the human hearts. That was a great
thing, which had spread through centuries like a magic breath of air
over large parts of the earth and into the simplest hearts and minds.
We must try to place something like this before our souls. As seekers
after spiritual knowledge we are able to do so, because through our
years of contemplative work on this great event we were able to
develop again a feeling for the real power which was thereby given for
all of mankind and for the whole evolution of the earth. And it is to
this event that our thoughts should be directed during this festival
So we may expect to gain some understanding of how in times past the
whole Christmas season was immersed in a festive mood, especially
among the people of Germany and Western Europe, and how this festive
mood was achieved by the simplest means. But perhaps only the
spiritual seeker can understand today what was essential in those
ancient Christmas plays. What I have presented to you just now as the
Star-Song is, in fact, only a last remnant, a last ruin.
If we would go back several centuries we would find vast regions where
Christmas plays were performed when this time approached, in the
presentation of which entire villages took part. As regards our
knowledge of these Christmas plays we may well say that we were merely
in a position of collecting something that was rapidly vanishing.
I myself had the good fortune of having an old friend who was such a
collector. From him I heard many stories of what he encountered as a
scholarly collector of Christmas plays, especially in German-Hungarian
regions. In certain language islands in Hungary the German
language had been kept alive both as a mother tongue and for
colloquial speech, up to the time of the so-called magyarization in
the fifties and sixties of the nineteenth century, when the Hungarian
language was imposed. There one could still find many of the Christmas
plays and Christmas customs which had vanished long ago into the
stream of oblivion in the German motherland. Individual colonists, who
migrated into Slavic regions during the previous centuries, had
preserved their ancient heritage of Christmas plays, and they renewed
them, whenever they could find the right people to play the parts,
always recruiting the players from among the villagers themselves. I
can still well remember and perhaps you will take my word for
it with how much enthusiasm the old professor Schröer
spoke of these Christmas plays, when he told of having been present
when these people performed these plays during the festival season.
We can say without exaggerating, that an understanding of the inner
nature of the artistic element in these plays can only be reached by
actually visiting these village people and witnessing how they have
given birth to the simple artistry of such Christmas plays out of a
truly most holy mood. There are people today, who believe that
they can learn the art of speech and recitation from this or that
teacher. They will go to all sorts of places in order to learn certain
breathing exercises which are considered to be the right ones for this
purpose. And there exist nowadays dozens of right
breathing methods for singing and for declamation. These people
believe that it is essential for them to make a real automaton of
their body or their larynx. Thus they cultivate art in a materialistic
way. I would only hope that this strange view will never really take
root in our circles; for these people have no idea how a simple, yet
true art was born out of a most reverent mood, a prayerful Christmas
Such art was actually performed by village lads who engaged in
good-for-nothing pranks and behaved in a very loose way during the
rest of the year. These very same lads would act in the Christmas
plays with a most profound Christmas mood in their souls and hearts.
For, these simple people, who lived beneath their thatched roofs, knew
infinitely more about the relation of the human soul, even the whole
human being, and art, than is known today in our modern theaters or
other art institutions, no matter how much ado surrounds these things.
They knew that true art has to spring from the whole human being; and
if it be sacred-art then it must spring from man's holy mood of
devotion. That, indeed, these people knew! And this can be seen, for
example, in the four principle rules, found in those
regions which Schröer could still visit.
As the months of October or November approached, in the regions of
Upper Hungary, one person who knew the Christmas plays would gather
those people who he felt were suitable to perform them. These plays
were passed on by oral tradition. They were never committed to
writing. That would have been considered a profanation. And during the
Christmas season some people were considered suited, of whom one would
perhaps not have thought so at other times: really roguish
good-for-nothing lads, who had been involved in all sorts of mischief
during the rest of the year. But during this time of the year their
souls immersed themselves in the required mood. The participants had
to abide by some very strict rules during the many weeks of
rehearsals. Anyone who wanted to take part had to adhere strictly to
the following rules. Try to imagine life in these villages, and
what it would mean not to be allowed to participate in these Christmas
plays. Anyone wishing to act in the plays must:
- stay away from the girls,
- sing no bawdy songs during the entire Holy Season,
- lead a decent life,
- obey my orders.
A fine will be levied for all violations, and also for each error in
memorizing your lines.*
* See Weihnachtspiele aus altem Volkstum; Die Oberufer
Spiele (G.A. 43, Dornach 1965), Christmas Plays from Oberufer,
translated by A.C. Harwood, Rudolf Steiner Press, London.
Do you recognize in this custom something like a last echo of the kind
of consciousness that prevailed at the holy sites of the ancient
mysteries? There too, one knew that wisdom cannot be achieved by mere
schooling. Likewise, an awareness prevailed here that the whole human
being, including his mind and morals, must be cleansed and purified,
if he wished to partake in art in a worthy way. These plays had to be
born out of the whole human being! And the attunement to the Christmas
mood brought about something like this, brought about that devotion
and piety would take hold even of the most roguish lads.
These Christmas plays, of which I have just told you, and which
Schröer and others could still observe and collect, were the last
remains of more ancient plays, indeed, merely the last ruins. But
through these plays we can look back into earlier times, into the
16th, 15th, 14th century and even further, when the relations between
villages and cities were quite different. Indeed, in the Christmas
season the souls of village people would immerse themselves into an
entirely different mood through what these plays would offer them, as
they presented with the simplest, most primitive means the holy
legend: the birth of Christ with all that belongs to it according to
the Bible. And just as Christmas day, the 25th of December, was
preceded in the church calendar by the Day of Adam and
Eve, so what was considered the actual Christmas play was
preceded by the so-called Paradise play, the play of Adam and
Even in Paradise, where they fell victim to the devil, the snake. Thus
in the most primitive regions where such plays were performed, people
could gain an immediate insight into the connection between the
descent of man from spiritual heights to the physical world and
that sudden reversal which was bestowed on man through the Christ
Impulse, upward again towards the spiritual worlds.
Suppose when reading the Epistles of St. Paul you would sense the
greatness of the Pauline conception of man, who descended as Adam from
the spiritual world to the world of the senses, and then, of the
new Adam and Christ, in whom man ascends again from the
world of the senses into the world of the spirit. This can be sensed
and felt in Paul in a grandiose way. The simplest people, even down to
the children, could sense this in an intimate, loving, fulfilling way
in the depth of their hearts and souls when they beheld in this season
in succession first the fall of man in the Paradise play of Adam and
Eve, and then the revelation of Christ in the Christmas play. And they
felt profoundly the mighty turning point that had occurred in the
evolution of humanity through the Christ Event. A reversal of
the path of evolution, that was the way the Christ Event was
experienced! One path, that led so to say from heaven to earth, was
the path from Adam to Christ; another path, that leads from earth to
heaven, is the oath from Christ to the end of earth time. That is what
many thousands of people felt in a most intimate way, when the two
plays which I have just characterized were so primitively performed
before their eyes. These people really could then experience the
complete renewal of the human spirit in its very essence
through the Christ-Impulse. Perhaps you can feel in all of this a kind
of echo of something that was once felt in regard to this reversal of
the entire progress of humanity through certain words which have come
down to us from very ancient times, from the first Christian
centuries. These words were often spoken, even in the eighth, ninth,
and tenth centuries, in those regions of Europe where Christianity had
spread. There people felt something tremendous when words such as
these were spoken:
Ave maris Stella
Dei mater alma
Atque semper virgo
Felix coeli porta
Sumens illud Ave
Funda nos in pace
Mutans nomen Evae!
Ave (I greet you) star of the sea
Divine youthful mother*
And virgin eternal
Thou happy portal of heaven.
Receiving this Ave (greeting)
From the mouth of Gabriel
Be thou our foundation for peace
By reversing the name Eva!
* A more conventional translation of alma is bountiful, but Rudolf
Steiner translates it as young.
When these words were spoken people felt man's path from heaven to
earth through the Fall and the ascent of man through Christ
from earth to heaven. They felt this even in the names of the two
female characters, the name Eva (Eve) and the name they associated
with the mother of Jesus, with which one greeted her so to say: Ave!
Ave is the reverse of the name Eva. When you spell
Ave backwards you have Eva. That was felt in its full
significance. These word; express what people sensed in the most
elementary phenomena of nature, and at the same time, what they saw in
the human elements of the Holy Legend:
Ave, star of the sea,
Divine young mother
And virgin eternal
Thou happy portal of heaven.
Receiving this Ave
As a greeting from Gabriel
Be thou our foundation for peace
By reversing the name Eva!
In such simple words one felt the greatest mysteries, the greatest
secrets of human evolution. And in the reversal of the name Eva to Ave
people would feel in a subtle way that same truth which we can learn
in a grandiose way from the Epistles of Paul when we read his words
about Adam, the old Adam, and Christ, the new
Adam. This was the mood in the days of the Christ-festival when these
plays were performed one after the other in that primitive way: the
Paradise play which shows us the Fall of man, and the
Christmas play which awakens the hope for the future, in
which each single human soul can share by taking up the force that
lies in the Christ-Impulse. But it should be perfectly clear that to
feel this requires a mood, an inner attunement, which simply cannot
exist in this way anymore today. Times have changed. Back then it was
not as impossible to look towards the spiritual worlds as it is today.
For, that fundamentally materialistic trait, which permeates today the
minds of the simplest as well as the most sophisticated people did not
exist then. In those times the spiritual world was accepted as
self-evident. And likewise a certain understanding was present of this
spiritual world and how it differs from the world of the senses. Today
people can hardly conceive how one could feel spiritually as late as
the 15th or 16th century, and how an awareness of spirituality was
present essentially everywhere.
We intend to present such a Christmas play in our art center. It is
one from the region known as the Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz). If we
succeed, understanding can again be awakened, also in the outer world,
for the spiritual mood that lives in such plays. For us, certain lines
in such a Christmas play should become signposts, as it were, by which
we recognize the spiritual sensitivity of the people who were to
understand the Christmas play at the festival season. For example, if
in one or another Christmas play Mary, expecting the Jesus-child,
says, The time has come, I see a little child, this means
she clairvoyantly beheld the child in a vision in the days preceding
the birth. Thus it is in many Christmas plays. And I wonder where you
could find a similar tale today for such an occasion. The time when a
conscious connection with the spiritual world was present is no more.
You should appreciate this fact neither with optimistic nor with
pessimistic feelings. Nowadays you would have to go very far afield,
to the most remote and primitive rural areas, to find instances of a
vision of the child that is to be born in a few days. But it does
What people brought to the Christmas season by these primitive
memories and thoughts of the greatest event of human evolution, this
could only be carried by a mood such as we described. Therefore, we
must find it quite understandable that in the place of this former
poetry, this simple primitive art, we have today the prose of electric
railways and automobiles, speeding forth so grotesquely between rows
of Christmas trees. An aesthetically sensitive eye must find it
impossible to view these two kinds of things together: Christmas
trees, Christmas sales, and cars and electric trains running through
their midst! Today this impossible situation is naturally accepted as
a matter of course. But for an aesthetically sensitive eye it remains
nevertheless something impossible. Even so, we want to be friends of
our civilization, not enemies. We want to understand that it must be
so as a matter of course.
But we want to understand too how much this is connected with the
materialistic trait which has pervaded not only those who live in the
city, but those who live in the country as well. Oh, by listening
carefully, we can actually detect how this materialistic mood has
taken hold of human minds. When we go back to the 14th or 13th century
we find that people knew full well that something spiritual is meant
when such a thing as the tree of knowledge in paradise is mentioned.
They understood rightly what was presented in the Paradise play. When
they were shown the tree of knowledge or the tree of life they knew to
what to relate it spiritually. For in those days superstition about
such matters had not yet spread to the extent it did later, in the
15th, 16th and 17th centuries. In fact it can be historically
documented that already in the 15th century, in the vicinity of the
city of Bamberg, people went out into the apple orchards on Christmas
night because they expected to see physically, materially, that a
specially chosen apple tree would bloom that night. Thus people's
minds became materialistic, in the period beginning in the 13th or
14th century and extending into the 16th and 17th century. This
happened not only in the cities, but also in the souls of simple
Even so, much of the ancient poetry found its way into the homes, with
the Christmas tree. But what wafted through the ancient villages as a
most sacred mood, like a mystery, has become merely external poetry,
the poetry of the Christmas tree, still beautiful, yet merely an echo
of something much greater.
Why is this so? Because in the course of time humanity must evolve,
because what is most intimate, what is greatest and most significant
at one time, cannot remain so in the same way for all times. Only an
enemy of evolution would want to drag what was great in one time over
into other times. Each period of time has its own special mission. In
each period we must learn how to enliven in ever new ways what should
enter the souls and hearts of man. Our time can only appreciate that
real Christmas mood, which I have sketched here in brief outline, if
this mood is seen as a historic memory, a thing of the past. Yet, if
we do accept the symbol of the Christmas tree also into our own
festival gatherings, we do so precisely because we connect with
Spiritual Science the thought of a new Christmas mood of
mankind, of progressively evolving mankind. For Spiritual Science
means to introduce the secrets of Christ into the hearts and souls of
man in a way that is appropriate for our time. Even though modern
conveyances rush past us when we step outdoors, or perhaps will even
fly away with us through the air and soon these things will
awaken humanity quite differently to the most sobering and terrifying
prose nevertheless men of today must have a chance to find
again the divine-spiritual world, precisely by an even stronger and
more meaningful deepening of the soul. This is the same
divine-spiritual world which in bygone centuries appeared before the
eyes of those primitive minds when they saw at Christmas time the Holy
Child in the manger. Today we need other means to awaken this mood in
the soul. Certainly we may like to immerse ourselves in what past
times possessed as ways to find the Christ Event, but we must also
transcend what depends on time. Ancient people approached the secrets
of Nature by merging with her through feeling. That was only possible
in a primitive time. Today we need other means.
I would still like to give you some idea how people felt their
way into nature when the Christmas festival approached. They did this
quite primitively, yet they could speak in a very real and living way
out of their sensing and feeling of the elements of Nature. If I may
share with you a little Star Song, you will perhaps feel
only through one single line, how the elements of Nature spoke
out of the soul the rest of the song is rather primitive. But
if you listen more carefully you will be able to observe this Nature
mood in several other lines.
Namely, when the one who gathered his actors for the Christmas play,
or for the Three Kings play, would wander with them, and when they
would then perform at some place, they would first extend a greeting
to those who were assembled there. For, the sort of abstract attitude
which prevails today between actors and audience did not exist in
those earlier times. People belonged together, and the whole gathering
was enveloped by an atmosphere of community. Therefore the actors
would start by greeting in a primitive way those who were present, as
well as those of the community who were not there. This really would
bring out the Christmas mood.
Beloved singers mine, let's gather as a clan
Like fritters in a frying pan,
Beloved singers mine, take up your place,
We want to pass our while with singing in this space.
Beloved singers mine, so strong and smart,
With greetings do we want to start.
Let us greet God-Father on His highest throne
And let us greet also His only Son.
Let us greet the Holy Spirit by name
And then greet all three together again.
Joseph and Mary enter the stage.
Let us greet Joseph and Mary mild,
And we also greet the little child.
Let us greet the ox and also the ass,
Which stand near the crib with straw and grass.
Let us greet them through sunlight and moonshine
That shine on the sea and the river Rhine.
Let us greet them through foliage and grassy blade,
Through the holy rain that has wet us all made.
Let us greet the emperor and his crown,
And him who made it, a master of great renown.
Let us greet the squire, Sir Palfi by name,
Also his officers we greet the same.
Let us greet our fathers of the church, so stern,
Because this play they allowed us to learn.
Let us greet the judge and the jury elect
With worthy honor and respect.
The whole honored community we greet
All who together here we meet.
Let us greet the honored council of this place
By God ordained to serve in this space.
Let us greet them through the roots, large and small,
Which are in the earth, many and all.
Beloved singers mine, turn now to another thing.
To greet the star we shall now sing.
Let us greet the slats, so carefully matched,
To which our star is then attached.
Let us greet the scissors that can stretch out far
By which can wander around the star.
We greet all the little slats of wood
As many as make our star look so good.
Beloved singers mine, harken well to my words
We sang to the star and to all of its parts.
Now we greet our master singer with glee
And also his hat which here you see.
Let us greet our teacher, who indeed,
With God's help taught us what we need.
Beloved singers mine, note well this thing,
To all of these we did now sing.
Now I ask you, please notice what this means: to call upon Nature in
such a way that one greets everyone whom one wishes to greet with a
certain mood in one's heart, a mood which arises from: the
roots, large and small, which are in the earth, many and all.
That is empathy for Nature's own mood. Thus we must recognize
that people in those days were connected with all that was holy, with
all that was great and spiritual, right down to the roots of trees and
grass. If you can enter into such a feeling, then, through a line such
as the one I have just cited, you will feel something grandiose in the
secrets of the evolution of mankind. The times are past when such
feelings were naturally present, when they were a matter of course.
Today we need to make use of other means. We need ways which will lead
us to a well-spring in human nature that lies deeper, to a wellspring
of human nature which, in a certain sense, is independent of external
time. For the course of modern civilization makes it impossible for us
to be bound by the seasons. Therefore, if you truly understand the
mood which was felt in olden times as the Christ mood of the holy
Christmas night, you will also be able to understand our intent, as we
attempt to deepen artistically what we can gain from Spiritual
Science. We strive to enliven that well-spring in the human mind which
can take in the Christ Impulse. No longer can we awaken this great
impulse directly within our souls during the Christmas season, even
though we would be happy if we could. Yet we constantly search for it.
If we can see a Christ-festival of the progress of
humanity in what Spiritual Science is intended to be for
mankind, and if we compare this with what simple people could feel
when the Child in the crib was displayed during the Holy Christmas
Night then we must say to ourselves: Such moods and feelings can awake
in us too, if we consider what can be born in our own soul when our
inner-most wellspring is so well attuned to what is sacred, so
purified through spiritual knowledge, that this wellspring can take in
the holy mystery of the Christ Impulse.
From this point of view we also try to discover true art which springs
from the spirit. This art can only be a child of true devotion, a
child of the most sacred feelings, when we feel in this context the
eternal, imperishable Christ festival of humanity: How the
Christ-Impulse can be born in the human soul, in the human heart and
mind. When we learn to experience again through Spiritual Science that
this Christ Impulse is a reality, something which can actually flow
into our souls and hearts as a living strength, then the Christ
Impulse will not remain something abstract or dogmatic. Rather this
Christ Impulse, which comes forth from our spiritual movement, will
become something able to give us solace and comfort in the darkest
hours of our lives, able also to give us joy in the hope that when
Christ will be born in our soul at the Christmastide of our
soul, we may then look forward to the Eastertide, the
resurrection of the spirit in our own inner life.
In this way we must progress, from a material attitude which has
entered and taken hold of all minds and hearts, towards a spiritual
attitude. For, that renewal, which is necessary to counterbalance
today's prosaic ways of life, can only be born out of the spirit.
Outside, the traffic of cars may move by, electric trains may speed
on, perhaps even balloons may fly across the sky. Nevertheless, in
halls such as these, it will be possible that something of a holy mood
lives and grows. This can however only happen as a result of what has
flowed to us from spirit knowledge throughout the entire year. When
this fruit of the entire year brings Christ closer to us, as could
happen in former times in a much more childlike mood, then we may
rightly hope that in a certain sense these halls will be
cribs. We may then look upon these halls in a
similar way as the children and the grown-ups used to look on
Christmas eve upon the cradle that was set up for them at home, or in
still earlier times, in the church. They used to look at the little
Child, at the shepherds before Him, and at the ox and also the
ass which stand near the crib with straw and grass. They felt
that from this symbol strength would stream into their hearts, for all
hope, for all love of man, for all that is great in mankind, and for
all goals of the earth. If on this day, which shall be consecrated and
dedicated to remembering the Christ Impulse, we can feel that
our earnest spiritual scientific striving throughout the entire year
has kindled something in our hearts, then on this day our hearts will
feel: These our meeting halls are truly cradles! And these
candles are symbols! And just as Christmas is a preparation for
Easter, so these cradles, by virtue of the holy mood that fills them,
and these candles, through the symbolism of their light, are meant to
be a preparation for a great era for humanity, the era of the
resurrection of the most Holy Spirit, of truly spiritual
So let us try to feel that in this Christmas season our meeting halls
are cradles, places in which, secluded from the outer world, something
great is being prepared. Let us learn to feel that if we study
diligently throughout the year, our insights, our wisdom, can be
condensed on Christmas eve into very warm feelings, which glow like a
fire, fueled by what we have gained throughout the whole year by
immersing ourselves into great teachings. And let us feel that thereby
we nurture our remembrance of the greatest impulse in human evolution.
Let us also feel, therefore, that in these halls we may have faith
that what now begins to burn within such a confined cradle as a holy
fire, and as a light, filled with certainty of hope, will find its way
to all mankind at some future time. Then this fire and this light will
be strong enough to extend its power even to the hardest, most down to
earth prose of life, to permeate it, to enkindle it, to warm it, to
enlighten it! Thus can we feel here the Christmas mood as a mood of
hope in anticipation of that World-Easter-mood which is to express the
living spirit, needed for a renewal of humanity.
We best celebrate Christmas when we fill our souls in the coming days
with this mood: In our Christmas we spiritually prepare the
Easter festival of all mankind, the resurrection of
spiritual life. Yes indeed, cradles shall our places of work become at
Christmas time! The child of light is to be born, whom we have
nurtured throughout the entire year by immersing ourselves into the
wisdom-treasures of Spiritual Science. In our places of work Christ
is to be born within the human soul, in order that spiritual life
may be resurrected at the great Eastertide of humanity. In its very
essence humanity must come to feel spirituality as a resurrection, by
virtue of what streams forth as Christmas mood from our halls into all
humanity, in the present time as well as in the future.