translated from the Third Reich SS original Die Gestaltung der Feste im Jahres– und Lebenslauf in der SS-Familie. It deals with the meaning and significance as well as the conduct of various holidays in the SS family. These include: Christmas, New Year, Easter, May Day, Summer Solstice, Harvest Day, Name-Giving, Acceptance of the Child into the Jungvolk or Jungmädel, Acceptance of the Child into the Hitler Youth or Federation of German Girls, Marriage (including acceptance of the bride into the SS clan community) and Funerals. An explanation of various ancient Germanic runes is included as well as sixteen songs (German text and notes) and illustrations of the wheel-cross, Yule plate, Yule candlestick, Yule corner (with family trunk) and the birthday ring. At the end there is even a list of suggested music.
Since ancient times our ancestors revered the sun as the source of warmth and life. Like a gold disk it stood above them, like a wheel it rolled across the canopy of the heavens.
The course of each day is determined by it, and its path of wandering is again a great circle. It crosses the sky first in a wide arch, then in a small arch. About six in the morning it stands in its course in the east, around twelve in the south, around eighteen in the west, around twenty-four in the summer of the far north the midnight sun completes its daily orbit.
Long ago did our ancestors set the course of the whole year as marks of a circle. That was the old wheel calendar that could be read on the horizon. On the winter solstice in the artic north, the sun only appears for a short time at the southern point, but on the summer solstice it stands at the northern point. The connection of these points divides the face circle as north-south line. In our latitudes the point of sunrise on the solstices lies in the southeast and in the northeast – the point of sunset in the southwest and in the northwest. The connections divide the already cut in half circle again into the shape of an “x”. That produces the ancient six-spoked wheel and without the wreath: “the Hagal rune”.
From the far north our ancestors brought along an experience that for all time, but especially for us who have again become conscious of the old legacy, is of the greatest significance. The ancestors made the following discovery: summer and winter fought with each in the north in unprecedented opposition as the forces of light and of darkness. The dark winter in its severity and length seemed to triumph over the short, meager summer. And yet, the sun came back despite the power of winter year after year. If its return were not to be expected with irrefutable certainty, then it would have meant certain death for Nordic men. Without grief and distress, the people observed how with the advance of summer the daily arch of the sun became ever smaller. The sun became weak. It shined dull. It aged. The visible daily arch became so small at Yule that the sun only appeared for a few hours, then it sank into the cold North Sea that shimmered on the horizon. On the mid-winter day, however, it came to pass that the sun no longer became visible at all. It had been devoured by the sea as if by a monster, or the mountains on the horizon had pulled it down to them. It had died and lied in its grave. The question, whether the sun would now remain there, was synonymous with the shocking question of the people: “Will we die along with it?”
On the mid-winter day, however, the miracle also took place: The sun arose again from its winter grave. It was born anew like a child, gained strength, and showed itself to the waiting people who rejoiced at the first sparse reappearance as if they themselves had had life given back to them. This great event repeated itself each year. And each year they celebrated it as their greatest holiday, and their salvation of Christmas holiday. In the Yule night they then approached the young sun with torches in order to help liberate it from the bonds of winter death. They imagined a young hero who had awakened it from its death sleep and liberated it. Now they celebrated as often as they could the ever growing strength of the sun. The bright fires blazed high on the spring day when length of day and length of night are the same, and when one could say that the liberation of the sun by the young hero had finally been completed. Again, fires of joy blazed above the triumph of light and life in the mid-summer night when the sun had won the greatest victory, made the biggest arch across the globe, allowing the night only a few hours of rule. This holiday was the high time of the year. Man owed it the harvest of his fields. Hence the harvest time became the holiday of the year. After it, however, the sun quickly lost strength, its arch became smaller, it approached death in the mid-winter night anew, a death from which in accordance to ancient law life again emerged.
Already in the Nordic and ancient Germanic times of our folk, people could not do enough to depict this experience of the sun’s death in hundreds of forms as stories. We are so fortunate to possess more of these oldest cultural goods of our ancestors than many from later periods. The sun experience is the object of almost all of our pre-Christian fairy tales that the Grimm brothers collected for us a hundred years ago, carefully wrote down and hence saved. The sunny king’s daughter, killed by a winter-like power, is brought bought to new life by a young hero: that is the core that in each of these fairy tales is always again in the most wonderful manner broadened and modified.
However, man also saw the same law of “die and become” manifested all round in the whole of nature. The annual course of the sun also determined the annual rhythm of all living things, of the animals and of the plants. Yes, their whole life followed the laws of being young and getting old, of death and rebirth. So, too, did man walk along his own life: he was subject to the fate of death and became radiant through the certainty of life. The man of the north was conscious of having received his own life from the womb of a human being certain to die. In the knowledge of his destiny to die, he passed it along. That was the deepest core of his worldview.
What he saw on the large-scale in the course of the sun, he most clearly saw return on the small-scale in his forests. Hence the tree was sacred to him. He imagined the whole universe supported by a mighty tree with roots, trunk and canopy of leaves and structured so. It is the old World Ash-Tree of which the Edda reports. Along its eternity glides the law of death and becomes an ongoing process of renewal. It is the great order in the eternal rhythm. Therefore, in all annual holidays of Nordic man, there is, next to the sun-wheel and fire, the tree as holiday symbol. In the fairy tales we often read of the life-tree what grows on the grave of the mother and, giving blessing, protects young life.