Pagans, Polytheists and Christmas.

I have noticed a trend in the pagan/polytheistic communities where people tend to say that when their Christian families stop doing Christmas, so will they. I find this trend kind of curious, myself. It’s possible that since I do have a child who has been infected with the Christmas bug (mildly, though) that this is why I tend to find the trend interesting and a little odd, but I don’t think it’s just my parenting that has to do with it. I know other pagan parents who do not do the Christmas spiel with their children, Christian type families or otherwise. So, I wonder if it’s just an attempt to distance themselves from the Christian hype and wanting to bring their children up in a pure pagan environment or something else?

I don’t, in all honesty, understand the lure here.

It’s possible that I’ve been destroyed by my upbringing. As a child, I was raised a Methodist with a vague Catholic background due to my mother and her family. However, the holiday was inherently secular in our household. There was a Santa Claus and my mother would put up the Nativity scene each year, but aside from that and a possible part in the Boar’s Head Festival at the Methodist church, there really wasn’t too much of a religious feel behind the holiday. My maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins would do the whole Catholic mass thing and whatnot, but that was entirely foreign to me. And while I enjoyed putting up the Nativity scene when we were decorating for Christmas (not because of its religious overtones but because I wanted it to look perfect), Christmas just never held a religious tone for what we celebrated. It was purely secular in every sense of the word.

I think it is this that leads me to still willingly and lovingly celebrate the holiday. I do enjoy the feels (though they’ve been absent the last two years due to monetary stresses) that this holiday can invoke within me. I feel joy and contentment, I feel happy and thrilled. And some of the more beautiful stories about how great people can be because of this holiday have always been something that I associated intrinsically with Christmas. (I’d like to see beautiful things like that all the time, but I’m also a bit of a realist and realize that humans are assholes a lot of the time.) While I do honor the Yule holiday with a little something each year – this year was magic – and I wish those who celebrate a happy Establishment of the Celestial Cow, a happy Saturnalia, and so forth, I still celebrate Christmas. And willingly.

Personally, I will continue to celebrate the Christmas holiday throughout the years. A part of this is because of my son and the families that I am a part of, mine as well as TH’s. I will admit that it seems a little wrong of me to take away such a fantastic, present-laden holiday from my son who enjoys the whole Santa thing and the present-getting. And while removing it from our celebratory calendar could end up with my Christmas Baby having a real birthday (he was born on Christmas Eve), I think it’s okay that we don’t really celebrate his birthday but he’s showered with love and affection (and gifts) because of Christmas. While I will admit that some holiday traditions – sitting on Santa’s lap, for one – are not a part of my household, the tree and ornaments, the glitz and glitter of decorating are all still a part of my traditions and will be a part of my son’s traditions as well.

And of course, as the years go by, I can’t help but get thrilled by the prospect of seriously spoiling the hell out of any grandchildren I may have…

So, I ask anyone reading this to give me their feelings on it. Why do you want to stop celebrating the holiday? Is it due to a childhood rife with religious connotations? Is it because you want to distance yourself from the predominant Christian culture? Why is it that you feel the need to distance yourself from this holiday?

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9 thoughts on “Pagans, Polytheists and Christmas.

  1. I personally plan to raise my child with the Druidic holidays. We’ll place more emphasis on the Winter Solstice, but he or she will definitely be exposed to Christmas (and other winter holidays) at school. My Christian family will also expose him/her to the religious and secular nature of Christmas. I don’t mind – I want my child to understand other religions.

    For me, so much of secular Christmas is of Pagan origin. Since my path is influenced by Northern European traditions, I’ve easily brought them into my Winter Solstice celebration. I don’t feel that I need Christmas to have a tree or Santa. Therefore, in my home, we don’t observe it. We’re a Pagan household and don’t feel the need at all. We honor my Christian family’s traditions, however materialistic they often seem, but the emphasis in our home is the Winter Solstice. A lot of it has to do with how “plastic” and gifty Christmas has become. Sure hubby and I exchange gifts on the Winter Solstice, but it’s not the giftapalooza that is modern Christmas. We also don’t worship Jesus so it just doesn’t make sense for us. We focus on the sun, the Nature Spirits, etc. Santa, to us, is a spirit of generosity and joy – and we will teach our child the same. We’re not doing the typical Santa thing everyone else does.

    That said, everyone is different. I understand that not everyone sees it the same. Hell, some Pagans still find comfort in Christian symbolism and lore – the Nativity story in particular. It is a beautiful holiday in many ways, but it isn’t for everyone and I don’t want to cling to it just because the dominant culture does. All the same, I don’t judge Pagans who do. It’s a personal choice.

  2. Both of our (mine and my husband’s) families are Christian, so we’re ‘expected’ to do the Christmas spiel. My son is about to turn two, so we could stop celebrating it, but I do enjoy having a tree and decorating (though it is covered in runes and other Norse items along with the usual). We have our big holiday meal on Yule and Christmas is just a day to get to spend with each other (as I believe it should be). We do the present thing on the morning of the 25th. The altars get presents and wine. We moved 1000 miles away recently, so we do have the chance to get to do our own thing, which is nice! If we’re back home visiting, we go to church with them and make them happy. I say “Merry Christmas” to my Christian friends and “Happy Yule” to my friends who celebrate it. I guess it’s always going to be some magnificent conglomerate for us which is nice in it’s own way. Family who (don’t know and) would disapprove of my religion are satiated and I feel that we have set a happy medium.

  3. For us, moving away from Christmas isn’t really a religious decision. Growing up, Christmas was very stressful and was more about the commercial aspects, rather than religion (or even just the joy of the season). Also, my mother often used holidays to punish those in the family that didn’t do as she wished during the year by banning this person or that spouse from attending dinners and such. Since I don’t have fond Christmas memories, celebrating Yule instead has made it a much calmer, more peaceful and happier time of the year for us.

  4. I enjoy Christmas as a holiday that brings family together. We were never hardcore about it being a religious celebration, though of course we went to Church. But a large part of Christmas, for me, is spending time with family and eating lots of wonderful food. I won’t be getting rid of it.

  5. I love Christmas. My family was never religious about it so for me it is jut a happy sparkly fun family time of year with gifties and lots of food and decor. Its when we get together and laugh and watch movies and eat and just enjoy the love. I’m keeping it. lol.

  6. Well, I used to hate Christmas, but the bug kind of bit me this year. As a Heathen, though, I get Yule, which is kinda like a Christmas/Hanuka fusion on steroids with 12 nights. So while I haven’t done anything this year (wish I did though, sigh) when done right it’s like 12 nights of Christmas (which is where the song comes from).

    Where do I think a lot of the hate for Christmas comes from in pagans? Well, probably a lot of the same places in non-Pagans. I know reading ljwitch’s articles on the whole holiday season, it’s seemed to be less about the holiday itself, and more about trauma from childhood where she didn’t get the right presents, or the holiday didn’t go for her like she thought it should. I suspect it’s that way with a lot of people, at least from what i’ve read and heard. “Santa didn’t bring me the right present, my parents didn’t pay attention to me to get what I really wanted, etc.”

    So they just hated Christmas. And they take the Paganism as an excuse to “turn away from the consumption, materialism, etc of the holiday.” They complain about the trash, and the music (okay, the music can be bad, but still) and the capitalism, but I think those are just excuses. They can’t get everything they want, so they complain about the system. They don’t want to try and embrace the holiday, or what it really means, so they come up with excuse after excuse to hate.

    • I said above that the commercialism of Christmas is a big reason why I, personally, don’t observe it anymore, but it has nothing to do with my childhood. I always had really lovely Christmases with my family – I just feel hypocritical celebrating it as a Pagan. I’ve fully embraced my holidays. So while I will celebrate with my family out of respect for their traditions, my focus is on my own path. Sure there are plenty of Pagans with a chip on their shoulder, but it’s not the case for all of us.

  7. So many of the polytheistic religions were community/polis centered. Lately, I’ve felt the need to join in the major festivals of my community even though they honor a god that is not part of the pantheon I worship.

    Plus, Christmas is fun. And it makes my mom happy when the whole family gets into it.

  8. Pingback: Why I Celebrate Christmas « Introspective Maenad

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