Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Pagan on Christmas

   As noted in my winter solstice post, this was my first year of really celebrating the sabbat. I observed it on the 21st, and then prepared to head out of state to stay with my family over the holidays as usual. I've been celebrating "secular Christmas" for the past two years, but up until then the holiday had significant religious importance to me. To some of my family, it still does. I have to admit that the whole experience of celebrating Christmas felt a little surreal to me this year. There were no religious events to worry about. My husband's family gathers at his mom's house on Christmas eve, so we head over there every year while church Christmas eve services are going on. But still, I felt a little strange about my involvement in the whole fiasco of Christmas.

   I'm aware that some significant portion of Americans celebrate a "Christmas" of sorts that has little to do with Christ, and much to do with family, food, presents, and Santa. It is still strange to me, though; something difficult to reconcile myself to. Maybe one day, it won't seem so odd. In part, it felt strange because I had already baked yummy treats, already planned for a "big day," and already exchanged presents, all for the solstice. My big day was over, yet everywhere I went, people were wishing me a merry Christmas. I'm not one to be belligerent for no reason, so I just wished them a merry one back and went on my way. On the big day, friends texted saying they hoped I was having a great day, and later others texted asking if I had. I said "yes" because that was the easiest answer. Easier than saying, "I'm feeling conflicted about this whole thing because I'm a pagan and Christmas means nothing to me."  Easier than saying, "I feel like I'm going through the motions, doing things with no purpose."  I suppose time with family and food and presents is great enough, is merry enough. But that's all Christmas is to me right now.

   Maybe that's okay. Maybe it's enough to celebrate a "Christmas" of those things, to bask in the magic that everyone seems alive with at this time of year. Honestly, I have no concrete statement to make, no definite opinion to give. There are pagans on both sides of the fence and everywhere inbetween. Pagans who don't partake in anything with the word "Christ" attached, and pagans who sing Christmas carols and wish others a merry Christmas with the best of them. I'm not in a place where I can declare any kind of a stance. I'm just here to say that the whole thing bothered me a bit. That I felt confused. And I think the indefiniteness of that is okay. I think it's okay to pause, to wonder, and to reflect. To just sit with your feelings for a while. For now I will sit, and then I will live my life until the wheel of the year brings me to yet another December and yet another Christmas, and then I will face it all again.

How do you feel about pagans and Christmas?


  1. In my house we celebrate Yule on the 21st and Chrismas on the 24th/25th with friends and relatives who consider it either a holy day in their religions or Santa day... an excuse to spoil the kids rotten and watch old movies you have seen a million times.

    Our Yule celebration is not a gift giving occasion since we know we have another holiday a few days later for that. Instead, it is a time to have our family celebration, and to toast the return of the sun with hot chocolate and spend the day chasing dry mitts and hats, followed by a supper with wine and the years harvest vegetables.

    There is no conflict in my mind. We enjoy our holiday and then we celebrate again with friends and relatives on theirs. I feel that this keeps Yule is a healthy perspective that is not commercialized at all and still gives us the traditional gift giving, turkey eating and family visiting holiday as well.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective! As I grow more accustomed to celebrating within the holiday season, I think I'll probably become more comfortable with it. And I feel that going the other way and trying to avoid "Christmas" would probably just alienate a lot of people. I have always loved how flexible paganism is, and if I lose that, I think I would lose the very thing I came to it for.


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