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Representational Memories

I know this is completely out of season but, Christmas is a wonderful time of year full of memories, familiar smells and seasonal decorations. Growing up I loved going to pick out a Christmas tree and putting it up in our house, it was my favorite smell of the season. For years I fought with my mom and wouldn’t let her get a fake Christmas tree because it wouldn’t be the same. Now that I live on campus at RIT all we are only allowed to have is this dinky little fake Christmas tree. While it does the job, it’s still not the same.

The people at the Auschwitz exhibit are trying to preserve the feeling one would get from such a historical cemetery, just like a fake Christmas tree they are trying to replicate something very sentimental. Therefore their ideas to walk the tourists through like the camp had originally done to the victims is a good idea to represent the pain and fear these people felt. Once again, it does the job, but it will never be the same.




I love christmas, and the use of a real christmas tree definietly has an impact on the holiday season. I think that it is important to be able to replicate anything that is sentimental, people always want to be able to relive those special moments.


I liked the comparison between the Auschwitz exhibit and Christmas. The Auschwitz exhibit did have to make some changes in order to make it feel more realistic. I’m sorry you can’t do more than a fake tree in your house. Nice metaphor!


Christmas is actually interesting to consider in this light, in that (much to the chagrin of some) it’s only barely a religious holiday in the popular consciousness. As a result, observant Christians have increasingly attempted to preserve some symbolic attachment to the religious origin of the holiday. Sometimes this seems fair (the phrase “holiday tree” really is pretty silly) though often it just seems antagonistic (no, cashiers wishing you “Happy Holidays” isn’t evidence of a “War on Christmas”).

Ironically, Christmas (like Easter) has only a tenuous attachment to Christianity in its origin. Most Biblical historians doubt Christ was born in winter, and pagan winter solstice celebrations (which Yule and eventually Christmas grew out of) predate Christianity by thousands of years.

Today, Christmas seems much more deistic than Christian. It is interesting to watch Christians struggle to preserve the public face of their religious identity in an increasingly secular society, but one wonders if it isn’t futile. My family cuts down and struggles to upright a 25′ white pine every year — honestly, the custom feel more pagan than anything else.


I really like the parallelism you make between the tree and Auschwitz. The way that the tree is in the picture adds to the metaphor. It isn’t even shaped like a real tree; the branches are all crushed upward, and the top is completely crooked. This extra touch of false nature to the tree visually heightens your point. I totally agree, though – fake trees can never do real Christmas trees justice! Great post!!

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