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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 89 - 12/15/2002
Bah-Humbug! Are You Offended by Christmas?
Do all of the Christian-based celebrations, songs and religious programming at this time of the year irritate you? Do you, as a Pagan, feel slightly uncomfortable if someone wishes you a 'Merry Christmas'? Do you 'correct' him/her, just let it go (The season is just too short!) or counter with a 'Happy Solstice' or 'Merry Yule' without further explanation?
Or, on the other hand, do you think that PC (political correctness) has run amuck and that the efforts to please everyone -- and to offend no one -- during this time of year has virtually expelled any and/or all spiritual meaning from the season? Is Christmas just another secular/commercial holiday these days?
And finally, what does the Yule season mean to you and how will you celebrate? Will you also join in Christian or Jewish holiday events with family or friends? What do you love about this time of year and what always makes you want to snort, 'Humbug'?
| Reponses: There are 173 responses posted to this question.
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| Christmas Trees, For Pagans? ||Dec 22nd. at 12:54:42 am EST|
|desertsoleil (Montréal, Québec) ||Age: 36 - Email |
Merry meet everyone!
OK, maybe it's me, but the onslaught and pure saturation of Christmas and Holiday things drives me crazy. I read what others have to say in this rspect, and people are bringing up some very good points. That said, let's be clear here: although Christians hijacked many of our Yule customs for their holiday (see related links on the Witchvox page expaining the historical significance to Yule), I don't agree with those who happily do the Christmas thing because it brings back memories, etc.....not that there is anything totally wrong with that, and I certainly can understand where they are coming from, I guess that it is not my thing since I have been Pagan (a jewwitch actually) my whole life, and have no particular memories in which to relate. I am a Pagan through and through, and that means no Holiday songs and Christmas carols of candy for me. I mean, we shouldn't forget the millions who were either killed, or forceably converted by Christians for many, many centuries. I say, we Pagans stand up, be proud, and retake our traditions that were stolen from us, and make them ours so that the cheerful Christian holiday revelers recognise that these things (tress, decorations) might LOOK like theirs, but instead, they are distinctly different, and, umm, non-Christian. It sounds a bit rebellious perhaps, but it is time that we Pagans assert ourselves as loud and proud as possible. I don't get offended when others try and share good cheer by wishing me "merry Christmas," as there's really no way for them to know what I believe, but I am quick to point out that there are many, many holidays to celebrate (Yule, Eid, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, etc...), and their should not have a monopoly on this joy, ya know?
| Yes And No ||Dec 22nd. at 2:20:41 am EST|
|jeannette (San Diego) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I do not mean to cop out on this question, but this is a really difficult one to say either yes or no on. On one hand, I am offended when I am wished a Merry Christmas. How dare these people assume that I am Christian. What if I were Jewish? Or Muslim? Or Hindu? even Witnesses don't celebrate Christmas. But I must admit, I also put up a tree this year, for the very first time. Yes, it is rather cliche'-but was'nt it our tradition first? I feel that it is my right as a Witch to put up a tree and help to bring back the sun! To celebrate the Wheel of the year and the change of seasons. My tree is themed in purple and silver to remind me of the magic of the season, and in everyday life-and also to symbolise the return of the sun. I do believe that I can have my cake and eat it too. I see Christmas as a sterilized U.S. holiday. I get together with my family on Christmas, and my pagan friends on Yule. I can have the best of both, by taking the Christ out of Christmas- I have just taken back a holiday that was ours to begin with.
Happy Yule. Merry Christmas. Happy Kwanza. Happy Chanuca. (sorry, I can't spell that)
| Hmmmm...... ||Dec 22nd. at 3:22:30 am EST|
|Jason (Calgary, Alberta) ||Age: 18 - Email - Web|
I cannot say that I am offended when people say "merry christmas", for all that they are doing is extending courtesy. It is however not right for them to accuse me of being catholic, for I have been raised Wiccan since childhood. To be offended by a misconception of another's kindness is not the Wiccan way, and thus I do not hold such tidings against others. I believe that we should try to rectify the christian belief of ownership over the Yule season, for Yule predates 'christmas' by far, and it is a little too convenient how us wiccans were celebrating the birth of the 'sun', while the catholics decided to celebrate the birth of the 'son'. I too despise the catholic church, and believe it to be nothing but a corporate machine... the church offers commercialization in exchange for eternal life in 'the light'... Christmas/Yule is not a time for talk of offense, it is a time of celebration, and of joy, let us keep it this way so as we can enjoy many of happy seasons. So until next time, merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again...
| Am I Offended? ||Dec 22nd. at 7:16:51 am EST|
|clio (York PA) ||Age: 29 - Email |
I have thought long and hard about this question and I think I've finally figured out an answer.
Christmas does offend me because I am a closeted Wiccan (especially since my family is very Christian). I find it difficult to participate in the prayers and the carols but I know I have to. Not being true to myself is offensive to me but in the case of the family I have to accept things as they are.
Do I get offended when a stranger wishes me a Merry Christmas? No. I realize that they don't know that I am Wiccan and I also realize that they are being kind and cheerful. And I wish that right back to them. If I wish holiday happiness, I just use the almost all inclusive "Have a good holiday." That about covers everything.
Actually there is one thing about the season that offends me: Just the fact that Christmas usually appears before Thanksgiving. Now that annoys me and offends me.
Hope everyone had a happy Yule. The moon was absolutely gorgeous last night.
| Politically Correct People Ruining Everyone's Holiday ||Dec 22nd. at 7:27:39 am EST|
|Grey Bear (Rochester, NY) ||Age: 37 - Email |
First off cruise over to www.lonsberry.com and click on "Today's Column", scroll to the bottom and select the article titled "WAR ON CHRISTMAS CLAIMS CASUALTIES". I have no affiliation with this site, but it eloquently describes what happens when mean spirited folks push their small minded agendas.
I have no problem with our schools decorating for Christmas. I enjoy the carols on the radio (for a short while). The lights on the houses, and the classic Christmas cartoons -- all of this is part of my life and history. You can wish me a Merry Christmas, I'll cheerfully respond "Happy Holidays" and leave it at that.
A Jewish friend sends me a Christmas Card every year -- it's the first card I get and I treasure the moment. I work out at the Jewish Community Center and the menorahs and Stars of David add to the look and feel of this quality institution. They never asked if I was Jewish, Christian, Wiccan or any permutation thereof. I am not offended that they have no Christmas trees -- I wouldn't expect one there!
Americans claim to be pushing for diversity. I expect to be exposed to other religions and alternative viewpoints -- otherwise I am insulating myself from reality. The poor woman in the article wants to prevent her child and all the other children in this school district from sharing in the wonderful diversity that is available to us today. Muslim teachings, Pagan tales, Jewish wisdom, and even Christianity's wonderful tale of the birth of Jesus are all means to the end. Full knowledge breaks down barriers, removes suspicion, and if you are a strong believer in your own path it will make you stronger! Our children can do away with prejudice and hatred forever, unless we continue to push for segregation -- Senator Lott is far less dangerous to minorities than this woman in Pittsford. She in insidious, she masks her racism and fear as indignation. She isn't offended, she is scared. Strong Wiccans should not be afraid of Christians, we should embrace the season, party with our Christians friends and neighbors, celebrate Yule with like minded souls, and spend the 25th hiking in the snow communing with the Goddess. Blessed Be!
| Tolerance Is The Name Of The Season ||Dec 22nd. at 8:21:17 am EST|
|Tiffany Proper (Shelby, NC) ||Age: 21 - Email |
Merry Yule! I would like to start off by just saying I hope everyone has a beautiful and blessed holiday with their family and friends this season. Secondly, I think that while America is, in essence, a country founded on the right for free religious practices history has shown that we are -all- short sighted. We see something different and immediately believe it to be 'evil' or 'detrimental to our family's and children'. This not always the case. A child will go to school, telling the others Happy Yule and one of two results will occur. Either the other children will be curious and ask questions or immediately attack and outcast the child. It's always been so. I am certainly not saying that this will always be the case but that's how it is today. Change occurs but with the amount of beliefs and point of views floating around out there it takes time. Time I think that most are not willing to give. For example, My mother is from the Church of God and my father is a Southern Baptist. When I first began to practice Wicca and study the religion relentlessly my parents called me possesed, the devil, and whenever an arguement broke out I was taunted with 'What? You gonna cast a spell on me now?'. But this was 6 years ago. It has taken my own parents that long to come to terms with the fact that while I practice differently I am still their daughter. That I am NOT a devil worshipper and I would never harm them. These are my own parents. It will take much longer for complete strangers to understand accept these facts as well. My point is merely this, we must all have some patience and tolerance for other people's views. While we might not agree with them they have the right to think and believe whatever they want. Just as we do. Tolerance and Patience with those that either don't understand or refuse to understand is key. This is a time for family and friends. Not a time for severe religious 'warfare'. I realise I may be idealistic but I believe that given time, effort, patience, and respect to the beliefs of others they to will come around eventually. But what if they don't? Then they are missing out on learning about a wonderful and beautiful thing. Let them live their lives in ignorance. But for you family's, for yourself, don't become one of those people.
| Not Offended -- Well, Not Most Of The Time ||Dec 22nd. at 8:28:53 am EST|
|magda (ny) ||Age: 37 - Email |
No, I don't get offended when people wish me a Merry Christmas. I just say "Happy Holidays" -- which I have done my entire life. The majority of the people in this country *are* Christian -- but I look at it as them making good will efforts. It's not a big deal! I love the lights, the music, I think the candlelight midnight masses are beautiful. I love to send and get cards. I have two stacks: generic happy holiday cards and Madonna and the manger cards for my very Christian friends and family members. I love to celebrate giving and togetherness and family.
As for "Jesus is the reason for the season" -- well, to Christians it IS! Wrong time of the year, technically, abut I do give the Catholic Church credit for having marketing and advertising skills enough to move the celebration date to the Soltice time table oh so many years ago.
I don't celebrate "Yule" in the general pagan sense -- I await the passing of the "Longest Night" and celebrate the rising of the sun the next day and its return. sure, I join in all the Christmas celebrations with family and friends. So do my Jewish and Hindu friends. We also do Hannukah stuff. We also celebrate the passing of the Longest Night together. Hmmm....no one has stepped up for Hindu activities -- I'll have to rectify that! :-D What's the big deal? Nobody is scarred for life and in need of therapy because of it.
Lastly -- what makes me go "bah humbug" --- people who feel they have to grump and groan and whine about Christians celebrating their big religious holiday at the same time as a pagan celebration. Ack! Get over it.
Over 2 decades of being a practicing Traditional Witch,
| Bah-humbug? ||Dec 22nd. at 8:51:09 am EST|
|Helen Pattskyn (metro Detroit, MI) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Christmas became heavily commercialized LONG before political correctness came into 'fashion'. The only thing that does offend me is this over commercialization.
I do think that it is better to wish someone Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas (I work with the public) simply because there is no way to know what religion a person celebrates and I wouldn't want to offend anyone. If someone tells me Merry Christmas, I respond with a smile and a "Happy Holidays" and leave it at that.
My ex husband is Pagan, but his family is Christian, so our six year old daughter will spend time with me celebrating Yule and time with them celebrating Christmas. She seems to think that its pretty cool getting gifts from Santa twice! Making matters more interesting this year, I've become engaged to a wonderful Pagan man with a religiously mixed family (his brother is Catholic, his sister is Baptist, his other brother is Pagan, Mom is Pagan, Dad is Christian - not sure if he even follows any particular denomination). So my daughter and I are going to their family celebration of Christmas eve for several hours, then we're taking my daughter to her paternal grandmother's home for THEIR family celebration and will collect her again the day after Christmas. Its like any other American family with divorces and re-marriages.
I love this time of year and have throughaly frightened my fiance (who is a typical bachelor, he has a two foot fiber-optic tree: take it out of the box, plug it in and VOILLA, you holiday decorating is done! ) I start decorating the day after Thanksgiving and don't really finish up until Yule day with the last strand of lights and garland and the last cookies baked. I've ALWAYS loved this time of year and that love didn't stop with my decision to leave Christianity (I was raised Russian Orthodox). Baking, decorating, trees (in my fiance's house, where we'll be living next year, there is a family room and a living room and that necessitates TWO trees, at least! Plus one small one in my daughter's room because I always had a little tree in MY room growing up! When I got older, about jr. high, I guess, my family humoured me by putting up a second tree as well, because we had a family room and a living room.) I put up Victorian type swags around the doors and living room ceiling and generally go bonkers for a month and a half. We shopped until well after my poor love had dropped for friends and family and I loved every moment of the crowded malls - for me, despite my complaints of over commerciliazation, part of the fun is watching people and selecting special things for loved ones. I also do a fair number of handicrafts to give as gifts. I start playing Christmas carols around December first, although my favorites are the non religious ones like Silver Bells and Holly Jolly Christmas. They might mention the holiday by its Christian name, but they don't talk about Jesus. We also play the Nutcracker ballet over and over and I have a wonderful CD with excerpts of that that also includes Vivaldi's Winter, from the Four Seasons. My daughter now finds that as recognizable as she does the Dance of the Sugar Plumb Faeries. I loved my tape of Pagan Carols and wassailing songs so much taht its now dead and its hopelessly out of print; we do however have a book of Paganized carols and wassailing songs and my Coven sang until we were hoarse last night while we were getting ready for Ritual.
After all of that, I do have to also add that the most important part of the holiday is family. If I couldn't put up one single glass ball or candy cane, I'd still be happy as long as I had my family - my daughter, my fiance, my Coven, near by. (I have no living blood family except my daughter any more). This time of year is too special, to too many people, to get your feathers ruffled about the little details. I have taken the time to correct co-workers who have asked (one was shocked that a Pagan would put up a tree - so I countered it with "Ok, so just what does a decorated pine tree have to do with the birth of Christ?" She thought about it and couldn't come up with an answer! I gave her one, about the Pagan roots of so many holiday traditions and a small history lesson about December 25th got to be the date for Christmas in the first place. Some of my co-workers love me, others...would prefer ignorance, I think.)
Brightest holiday blessings to one and all,
| BAH HUMBUG IS NOT A PAGAN EXPRESSION ||Dec 22nd. at 10:32:44 am EST|
|Rose - The Glitz Witch (Providence, RI) ||Age: 55 - Email |
Happy Yule to everyone. I started to follow the Pagan path aout 4 1/2 years ago. I was raised a Catholic until I was 11 yrs old. From that time I have gone from one Christian church to another searching for what I believed in my heart. I never (even while in Catechism) belived in their basic tenents. I was always the child who got her knuckles rapped and was put into the closet for questioning the nuns. As I grew and began studies on my own, it only made things worse. I couldn't for the life of me understand how anyone could take the bible so literally. When I finally found out about Paganism, I realized THIS is what I have beleived all my life. I just never knew what it was called. I was born a Pagan in a predominately Christian world (at least my world was). My belief is so strong, that I have become almost militant about it. So, I do get a little turned off by the Chrisians assuming everyone else in the world should believe what they do. But, as a Pagan, I am more tolerant of them than they are of me.
I have two children (adults, actually) whom I raised with an open mind. I married a catholic who never stepped foot in a church unless he had to, but we observed the Christian traditions, becuse it was all I knew. I taught my children about all religions and told them that when they were old enough, they would make up their own minds as to what they believed. Niether one of them follows any particular religious path. But they love my belief system. When I told them I was a Pagan, and explained to them why, they embraced me and said they were so happy I was finally happy. They help me celebrate my Pagan holidays and shower me with Pagan gifts all year long. We still celebrate at "Christmas time" becuse of the rest of the family, but when talking to me they refer to Yule, not Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we get together with their father and his wife, my daughter-in-law's dad, and myself. Almost all of the gifts they give me are Witchcraft oriented and the others look very perplexed at their choices. Especially my ex's wife. I think she is a little scared I will put a spell on her or something!!! But, we have a lot of fun watching their faces.
The people that I work with all know I am Pagan, and some have asked me to explain to them why I celebrate Christmas. I tell them it is not Christmas that I am celebrating, and ask them why they are celebrating Yule. Then I explain to them why they do!! It comes as a huge shock to most. They are very surprised that they are celebrating my holiday and not the other way around!! When I am wished a Merry Christmas, I don't get upset, I just wish them a Happy Yule, or Happy Holiday, depending upon whom I am talking to. I don't feel a need to get into it with casual meetings. The people that matter to me know and those just in passing do not need to. I play Christmas carols and sing along because I love the music aspect of them. My favorites are, of course, the Yule oriented ones....."Deck the Halls, Oh, Christmas Tree".........etc. But, I love all music and I don't have to live the song to sing and enjoy it.
The only time I feel Bah Humbug is when I see people who do not have any joy in their hearts for either Christmas or any other celebration. I don't like to see and hear people complaining and grousing becaus of the crowds or lines, etc. If they don't have some kind of joyful feelings and spirit of peace and giving, I wish they would just stay home and not subject others to their negativity. I encountered just this type of person in a store yesterday. He was with his beautiful teen-aged daughter and he was just cussing and fuming over having to wait in line. I was behind him and he happened to turn and see me smiling at him. He looked a little sheepish because I had overheard him. I said to him, "OK, let's hear it." And he said, "Hear what?" I said, Go ahead, say Bah Humbug!" He started to laugh and his daughter said, "See, Dad? You are being a Grinch!" I told him he should be happy he was out with his beautiful daughter and should be trying to make her Christmas shopping a happy experience. He ended up lauhing and when they were leaving he turned to me and said "Merry Chrismas!!" with a big smile. Then he put his arm aroud his daughter an kissed her cheek and said "You, too honey!" She smiled at me and said "Thanks!" That made my whole Yule experience a wonderful one.
| Trying To See It All Ways....for Now. ||Dec 22nd. at 2:47:12 pm EST|
|Rich - SpiritWalker (Long Island, New York) ||Age: 44 - Email |
I am a very young  Wiccan. I have only just started my studies. But I felt the want and need to express my opinion here. I am Roman Catholic born and raised by my parents.
I have always responded back to someone saying Merry Christmas to me with Happy Holidays. Even before I even knew the word Wiccan or Pagan. I thought it was just a greating and I was responding in kind to the whole season, not just the one specific holiday.
I think the whole Christmas season is nothing but a commercial ripoff. TV is flooded with ads for the latest, greatest toys. Influencing my children [and me back then]that they had to have them and were not satisfied with just 2 or 3 mind you!. Wall Street analysts talk about how this is the make or break time of year for all the stores. Perhaps I am just an old fashioned type of perons. Come back to life in a time that I just don't understand. I would be happy with good friends around me, good conversation and good food. Instead I feel I am alone with my immediate family, worried that my wife is stressing out over making sure that she has enough gifts for the kids.
With everything that is happening with the Catholic church at this time, it just makes it easier to see that it isn't what I thought it was all these years. Having been introduced to Wiccan, and having read some books and websites, such as this one, answers questions that have been hidden for many years.
Yule season...well, as I have said, I have just started my studies and I am a solitary. With that said, I do most of it by myself. My wife understands. We will celebrate Christmas Eve and Day. We will not go to Mass. We will have perhaps my mother-in-law over for dinner. But by and by, it is a day for the kids and hoping that they got what they wanted. Me? I am looking for a walkman so that I can take nice long walks and listen to celtic music and absorb nature.
| I Have To Tell So Many Lies ||Dec 22nd. at 3:00:07 pm EST|
|Cheryl In The US Midwest (The Midwest) ||Age: 46 - Email |
I really don't mind Christmas or any other holiday this time of year. I personally celebrate Yule but if you say "Merry Christmas" to me, doesn't bother me a bit, I say "Merry Christmas" right back or whatever. I am not at all offended and feel no need to tell people I am not Christian or explain anything.
BUT what I do hate is women (in particular they seem to be the ones that do this) saying, "Have you finished your Christmas shopping?" I don't really shop at Xmas and don't shop much period. So I lie. Usually, they don't listen to what I say anyhow, just want to regale me with tales of how organized they are and how many friends and family they have. Sigh. Or "What did you get your husband or what did your husband get you?" There is really nothing I want material wise and as for husband, he buys power tools, car parts, electronics, guy stuff this time of year to please himself. So what he doesn't get a wrapped sweater from me that I bought with his money? This season for me is full of more lies than normal and replete with personal alienation. This is the time of year when I have to pretend, more than any other time, that I am like others, particularly women, and I feel the loss of personal integrity keenly.
So buy your gifts, kill a tree, do whatever you want, but not everyone wants to. At least, not me.
| Yule, Christmas, And Other Things!! ||Dec 22nd. at 4:58:14 pm EST|
|GACatmandu (Indiana) ||Age: 36 - Email |
Well I personally am kind of new at the Pagan/Wicca thing (just getting serious at the begining of this year) although I have considered myself Pagan for about 3 years now.. I use to be christian up until about 5 years ago and I believed christmas was a christian holiday but, I now know better.. Just about all the things christians do on christmas are taken from Pagan ways (but for the so-called birth of christ).. The christmas tree is Pagan which I knew when I followed christian beliefs and therefore I had no christmas tree which most christians misunderstood they were always saying "Why don't you have a christmas tree??" and when I told them why they would look at me with shock and amazment.. Now, I am Pagan and love a tree this time of year!!
I just stick to Happy Holidays as appossed to merry christmas or Happy Yule cause you never really know if someone is christian, Pagan, Jewish, atheist, or any number of things to say Happy(Merry) Yule, merry christmas, or just KISS my ass hell I don't know might offend someone.. So I just stick with happy holidays if I say anything at all.. I don't really get offended by someone saying merry christmas to me, what bugs me about it though is most people anymore assume that christmas is everyones major holiday!! Yule I am just now learning about so at this point I can't tell you more than that so, get back with me next year on that I will have more for you then..
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