Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Song SEVEN Of The 8 Best Traditional Christmas Songs That Seem To Have Nothing To Do With Christmas.

Hey, I might actually finish one of these MiniBests!

Okay, so I've got some kind of scary news for you: You've been being tricked, and tricked by Germans, to boot.

That news -- of Holiday German Trickery -- is something I suspected for a long time. Well, okay, I suspected it for about 2 hours, since I was driving into work this morning and thought of the song O Christmas Tree and then wondered whether O Christmas Tree was really a faithful translation of O Tannenbaum.

In the olden days (2002) I would have had no way to confirm or deny that suspicion -- making me the moral equivalent of George Costanza's ginger ale (Or, if you'd like a modern comparison with someone whose suspicions are entirely unconfirmable hypotheses mixed with paranoia, consider me a Tea Partier) but this is not the olden days (2002), this is the modern era (2010, almost 2011) and that meant that I could go to the Internet to check things out.

Because the Internet is the best possible way to debunk rumors, right? Of course it is. Even scientists say so. And everyone knows that scientists are absolutely trustworthy and would never ever make something up.

Anyway, enough about science, as the Republican party said in their political platform. This is about Christmas, and how science can prove that Germans are using mediocre songs as some sort of propaganda, probably all related to the impending 2012 end of the world, now that I think about it.

Here's what I'm talking about. The song O Christmas Tree seems to be very much about Christmas, what with being about Christmas trees and all. But I began to wonder if the translation we sing was an accurate translation, and I began wondering that because as far as I know, judging from hearing people sing the song, the lyrics to O Christmas Tree go as follows:

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, your branches something mumble lightly
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, your evergreen something else
Not only green, in summer time, I mean your branches, ...
let's sing something else.

Which made me think that maybe we're not exactly sure what the lyrics are to O Christmas Tree, let alone whether they were accurately translated from the original text -- and we know that sometimes songs do not get accurately translated from German because for years we've been told that 99 Red Balloons was titled 99 Luftballons in Germany, and yet Luft is not German for "red," it's German for...

... for something else. So you can see why I was suspicious. And I did what I always do when I get suspicious of something: I cursed at the drivers in front of me who were making left turns and holding up traffic. (How many times do I have to say that only I should be allowed to make left turns? Why can't you people be more considerate of me?)

Then, I got to work and I immediately looked up the lyrics to O Tannenbaum, which the International Monetary Fund and other coconspirators including but not limited to Glenn Beck would have you believe is the German version of O Christmas Tree, and I immediately became even more suspicious (if that were possible) because in the German version of the song:

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu[N 1] sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat schon zur Winterzeit[N 2]
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren:
Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit
Gibt Mut und Kraft zu jeder Zeit!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren!

There is not a single reference to Christmas. And I can say that because while I don't speak German, I do know that all other languages besides English tend to simply co-opt English words and then modify them only slightly, so that in France, for example, bicycle is simply bicyclette, so "Christmas" in German would likely be "Der Christmashoffer," or something, unless, of course, they went the other way with it, which would be to make the word superGerman, the way they sometimes do, so that Christmas would end up being Gotterflugenhofsterubermenschendangenspreitzel or some such, but I didn't see any words like that in there, either.

So, now fully suspicionized, I went to Phase Two, and translated the German lyrics through Babel Fish, to discover that O Tannenbaum is actually saying this:

O fir tree, o fir tree, your sheets are how faithful!
You do not only become green to the summer time, no, also in the winter, if it snows. O fir tree, o fir tree, Your sheets are how faithful!
O fir tree, o fir tree, You can please me much!
How often already during the winter time a tree of you pleased me highly!
O fir tree, o fir tree, You can please me much!
O fir tree, o fir tree, Your dress wants me which to teach:
Hope and stability Courage gives and Kraft at each time!
O fir tree, o fir tree, Your dress wants me which to teach!

And, as you can see, there's not a single word about Christmas in there.

But there is the rather cryptic phrase Your dress wants me which to teach, which is now my favorite saying ever, and which phrase I'm going to use to answer every single question that is asked of me today.


Sweetie: Hi, honey, how was your day?

Me: Your dress wants me which to teach.

This is gonna be awesome.

Previous songs:

1. I Saw Three Ships.

2. Winter Wonderland.

3. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

4. Jingle Bells.

5. Good King Wenceslas.

6. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

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