Good Afternoon, everyone!
Have you noticed the glittering and blinking Christmas trees placed meticulously before windows to illuminate and shine outside, brightening up the earlier darkening nights? The icicles draped from people’s gutters as they do their best to bring light into the coming winter? Most Christmas traditions do in fact have Pagan roots–and according to my Rabbi, some of the Chanukah ones 😉 (don’t tell anybody)–and it always gladdens my heart to see them. The warm colors of red, green, gold, blue, and silver bedeck everything people can get their hands on and Christmas carols jollily play as we rush to make any remaining purchases for the upcoming Holy Days. Unless you’re like me and completely behind! I don’t think I’ve bought a single present yet! Yikes!!
Just from my description above, I bet there are a couple of you who cringed or immediately felt overwhelmed–or perhaps worse, left out. Of all the other holidays that are celebrated, I do find Christmas to be the one that makes any non-Christian feel like an outsider. We can feel left out in the cold while everyone else celebrates this merry festival and I feel this especially true for the new Pagan and Witch. It’s okay. Most of us have felt this way and understand. I personally have celebrated both Yule and Christmas the past five years without conflict–for the most part. When I first started upon my path, I did feel very isolated and grew angry.
It felt as if everyone was shoving their holiday down my throat and their religion and for that I grew resentful and furious. However, after a while I remembered the similarities between mine and their holiday which helped ease some of that animosity. I don’t think it would’ve felt so intense had Christmas not been my favorite cherished celebration growing up. It never was about Jesus in my family. Christmas was strictly Santa’s visit and Easter was only regarded as the day upon which the Easter Bunny decided to visit. This made it easy when I was converting to Judaism and far easier when I awakened to my Pagan path and Witchy self.
Since this was a topic I’d resonated with deeply as it does sting, I felt compelled to write about some of my thoughts and experiences in the hopes they may be of service to you. In these times of hate, resentment, and separation I remain a firm believer in peace and love. That doesn’t mean we must always agree but we are all connected. I digress, however and would like to continue with my list. 🙂 I’ve given some reasons we feel left out or angry as well as offered solutions to Christmas as well as bringing our Pagan traditions into it.
- Treasured Childhood. A point of anger is the feeling you must give up a treasured holiday because it isn’t part of your path any longer. I believe this to be complete hogwash. If you still wish to celebrate it then I say go for it! Don’t feel like you must abandon your family and not partake with them as they celebrate. If you find anyone who tells you must, turn around and walk away. There is no one, true, right way to being Pagan and I know plenty who do celebrate Christmas with their families and by themselves. It’s a tradition that they always wanted to share with their own children one day.
- My childhood growing up was not the best and my parents fought all the time but Christmas was the only day of the year they refused to argue which is one reason I cherish it like so. Think of your reasons why you enjoy it so much.
- Santa. A solution if you’re still having problems is to think of it strictly as a day in which Santa Claus visits–like my family always has done and they are Christian! This makes it simpler with children as well, especially if you wish to raise them as Pagans. This was the hardest of for me because I’d always dreamed of being able to leave cookies out for Santa with my children, see their joy as they discovered he’d visited during the night, and watch Christmas movies with them. I still would like to.
- There are a lot of similarities between Father Christmas and Odin so if you follow Asatru or just a Norse flavored path, you could look into that. Taking a quick glance at the birth of Jesus, we also find that Mithras, Horus, Ra, Tammuz, as well as many others were born around the Winter Solstice. Yule is the birth of the Sun, instead of the Son. 😉
- Yule. Don’t forget that we too have our own beautifully sacred holy day that encompasses loads of the same imagery so if you still feel as if you shouldn’t because it isn’t your religion then research and delve into the roots of Christmas and it’s symbolism. You will find that most of the things you love about the holiday don’t have to be forgotten and thrown away. Actually I find this grounds this immense holy day that has become so immersed in consumerism.
- If your a newcomer to this path, I do recommend celebrating Yule (even if you decide to celebrate Christmas too) because you may find that you prefer Yule over Christmas. It took me five years but as I’ve grown in my path and really allowed myself to be authentically me, I’ve noticed that I don’t really have a desire to celebrate the other holidays. You may find that eventually you connect more to the Pagan sabbats and then it won’t matter if others are or aren’t celebrating the same festival. 🙂
- Tips. Try calling your Christmas tree a Yule tree instead. In the beginning, if you have to slowly edge into the waters, then do so. Understand the lights on the tree reflect our desire to welcome and draw the sun back as we await His rebirth. Try incorporating traditions from both until you find what works for you. Also, remember that Christmas encompasses hope, love, charity, kindness, and goodwill towards all. People aren’t necessarily meaning to force their beliefs down your throat but instead wish to embody what the season is about.
- Consumerism. It’s of importance to note that there are some Christians who feel betrayed (if that’s the word for it) as the holiday has become completely commercialized that the true meaning of their religious day is becoming lost. This doesn’t make it any easier for us as at least they still have their holy day advertised everywhere but it takes the sting away a bit to realize there are those who feel just as much an outsider to certain parts.
Focusing on our own holy day–Yule, The Winter Solstice, or any of the numerous names for this season–is always the easiest way in which to rid yourself of feeling like an outsider. You become so immersed in what your doing, what your celebrating, and creating new traditions for you and your family that you sort of are able to block out and no longer care about Christmas. Incorporate Christmas traditions into your Pagan path as they most likely already have Pagan roots which not only grounds them but also gives you a reason for doing what your doing. Before I came to Paganism, I just strung lights around my tree because we always did and they were pretty. Now I understand it’s just another way to draw the sun’s warmth back–the same when we’re lighting candles on our altar. However, if you feel you must continue celebrating Christmas, maybe it’s the only time you get to see relatives who live out-of-town, then go for it. Just stay mindful that this time of year is a very cherished season for many–Christmas for Christians, Chanukkah for Jews, Yule/Winter Solstice for Pagans, Milad un Nabi (or the Prophet’s Birthday) in Islam.
I may have somehow gotten off topic but there were so many ideas swarming my mind that I needed to get them down before they drove me mad! I think the most important thing you could do is journal. Discover what it precisely about the holiday that draws you–like my childhood story above–and what traditions resonate with you. Why? Always look for the why. I don’t think you should have to give it up if you don’t want to but do take a look at our own holy day which is full of so much wonder, joy, and beauty. 🙂
Please comment if you celebrate Christmas as a Pagan and what it means for you in that context. Also, if you don’t, what are some tips you have for those who are struggling with leaving it behind.
I wish you all the Brighest of Blessings this season, regardless of what you celebrate, and hope this month is full of love, cheer, joy, and health!
Brightest of Blessings,
The Autumn Witch