"Lenin in Swaddling Clothes": A Critique of the Ideological Conflict Between Socialist State Policy and Christian Music in Cold War Romania

Pieslak, Sabina Pauta

On April 11 , 1924, the monarchic government of Romania decreed, through
the so-called "Gheorghe Marzescu" law, that the political practice of Communism
was subversive to the national cause and therefore illegal. Until the
ban was lifted in 1944, the government imprisoned members of the Romanian
Communist Party (Constantiniu 2002:309). To raise funds for their
incarcerated comrades while avoiding official detection, groups of activists
belonging to Red Assistance International (Ajutorul Rosu International)
adapted certain winter caroling practices of the Christian Orthodox Church.
Instead of singing star songs (cemtece de stea) or Christmas carols (colinde)
and carrying staffs bearing the star of Bethlehem with the image of the infant
Jesus in swaddling clothes, the activists sang altered texts that urged listeners
to contribute money to the cause of the working class and carried staffs
decorated with a five-pointed star emblazoned with Lenin's image (Cernea,
Radulescu, and Pintean 1964:124-25).

Geographic Areas



  • thumnail for current.musicology.78.pieslak.7-30.pdf current.musicology.78.pieslak.7-30.pdf application/pdf 1.13 MB Download File

Also Published In

Current Musicology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Columbia University
Published Here
October 31, 2014