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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 17,873,139  

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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. Reverse Sort 

The Christmas Yule Tug Of War Dec 16th. at 10:12:29 pm UTC

Fathom (pittsburgh) Age: 24 - Email


I was christian a lot longer than I have been a pagan and I will always have strong ties to christmas. I adjusted, because one, I have to work on christmas eve and day (hotels don't close on holidays) and two, Yule falls on a different date. This might just be an issue of semantics to others but for me it makes it eaiser to function with my religon being one thing and my family another. Christmas, while having a very large dose of religion in it while I lived at home has gradually shifted to more about family time as I got older. Yule is my chance to have a holy and quiet religous holiday, Christmas is my chance to have the rowdy roliking happiness of my family. It's simple and separate and that's just fine. Merry christmas, happy yule and peace to all.

Christmas...Litha Here, Yule There... Dec 16th. at 10:53:50 pm UTC

Laneth Narya (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) Age: 19 - Email

Merry Meet all
and Happy Litha for the
Southern Hemispherians, Happy Yule for the Northeners...Merry Christmas for all those in between...

Personally, I don't celebrate Christmas for myself - I celebrate it for those that I love knowing that they themselves celebrate it and are not of the same path as I. Tolerance is something I have...

The fact that a whole month to a month-and-a-half the shops and homes are playing Christmas carols and displaying the decorations - this is what irritates me. I mostly wish a Merry Christmas but to those I know as Pagan of some form, it is merry or happy Litha.

I feel that the symbolism of Christmas has been bought and commerciallised and sadly cannot be rescued from the grasp of the greedy money-makers. Christmas rakes in too much money for symbolism now and the novelty of getting a present and sitting down to lunch with family or friends has been lost to a more sinister order of stress and over-spending.

Children now (on a 50/50 ratio-generalisation and at least here in Oz) don't even really know the other side to the Christmas stories. Sure it's Jesus' birthday but it is more importantly the day when ye get tons of stuff to play with.

Growing up as a Roman Catholic I was tought the whole Jesus, Mary, Joseph stuff but that is part of the past for me. Even now, I cannot place where my loyalties will lie when I have children.

I just hope that people can look past the Coca-Cola-invented imagery of Santa Claus and his reindeer and look to the more family oriented side of the holiday. It is about spending time with loved ones after all.

Bright Blessings to all over the Solstice break and Merry Part to Merrily Meet again!

Laneth Narya
Sorcerer, Druid, Witch, Bard, Oracle.

Pagan Cookies For All Dec 17th. at 12:01:16 am UTC

Elvenstar (Yellowknife NWT, Canada) Age: 21 - Email

Every one around me celebrates Christmas (the non-Christian version). Including my Husband and 5 year old step-child. I feel that it is important to spend this time, (whether you celebrate Yule or Chirstmas or Hanika {sp?}) with your family and friends. I plan on doing both the Santa thing and the Yule Ceremony thing with my step-child, and the stocking thing with my mom. (She's loving the grandma stuff, and spoils her when ever she can). So I don't really get upset when someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas". I respond with a "Happy Solstice" or "Merry Yule" and they usualy understand what I am saying: Essential that it doesn't matter what you celebrate, as long as the spirit is there.

Yellowknife is a very open City, if you can call it a City. We have festivals every year to celebrate the summer solstice. So when I brought in gingerbread cookies with purple pentecals on each one to work for my co-workers (a very high profile job I might add) they all enjoyed them for what they were. A gift from me.

The only thing I dislike about this time of Year is that the School my step-chiled goes to (a Roman Catholic School, which is the best school in town, with the most understanding staff in town) tries to make sure she gets more Jesus talk then you can shake a wand at. It's annoying, but I don't think that they are doing it to spite me. They do it to all of the children. It leaves her very confused, and both her father and I frustrated, as he is not Christian either.

Blessed Be and Merry Solstice,

I Celebrate Both- It's Like Getting Two Desserts! Dec 17th. at 12:12:25 am UTC

Amanita Burning Sky (Halifax) Age: 23 - Email

I remember reading the thoughts of a Dutch immagrant to Canada..she said that although she was a new Canadian,
She still was teaching her children Dutch as well as English, and that they celebrated the Dutch holidays as well
as the Canadian ones. As she said, "It's like getting to have two desserts". Her thoughts pretty well sum up how I feel
about Christmas. I am wiccan, but the rest of my family is christian..especially my grandmother, who I am very much in the broomcloset to.
And it has always been my understanding that in the craft, all posotive forms of celebration are welcome.
As for the christmas music, I wish that the stores would wait until december to play the stuff, and then, could they pick out some nice renditions
of the songs, as opposed to off key kids singing, or muzak soundalikes? Although I must confess, I have been known to play a favorite christmas song or two, even in the summer..Oh well.
Happy Yule, everyone!

Oh Yulemaskuh Tree... Dec 17th. at 12:55:38 am UTC

Cole (texas) Age: 28 - Email

For me "christmas" is just a tag. My parents are chistian, and its become a generic term to say "Merry Christmas". I tell my jewish friends "Happy Hanukah". I do get tired of having the whole my gods kid was born today shoved down my throat, but I can live with it.

I am tired of the PC thing, I think that instead of pleasing everyone we should let everyone believe what they want and leave them alone.

Thats why for the low low price of NOTHING you can follow an all new celebratory holiday extravaganza! Yulemaskuh, the holiday everyone can celebrate. Give gifts, spend time with you familly, love one another, feast & enjoy life.

Yule/Christmas Dec 17th. at 8:31:54 am UTC

Allison (USA) Age: 41 - Email

Christmas does not offend me. Why should it? Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, 'Id al-Fitr - none of them offend me either. They are all in some way celebrations of light. I personally don't celebrate "Christmas" since I am not Christian but I have many friecds and workmates who are, so I don't come on as the arrogant Heathen telling them how this and that is wrong with it, I just play along. It's not as if they are insisting I go to church with them or anything, they know I am Heathen and respect that. But I am not afraid at all to adapt to any given situation. And when these people come into my home at the holidays they respect the way I observe Yule and we learn from each other.

What Offends Me Dec 17th. at 9:45:09 am UTC

bliss (midwest) Age: 34 - Email

The greed instilled in our children...

The greed i see in the corporations that are more worried about thier bottom line than the state of our world and the condition of our souls...

The sorrow in the faces of those who feel the need to fall into the trap that all gifts must be bought, but don't have the money to spend and still go broke anyway...

The good behavior only shown during the "holiday season" and not during the rest of the year...

The stress put on so many to make the season picture perfect...

Every day should be treated like a holiday, not just certain days of the year. We should all rejoice in the love and the light and the gifts we've been given every day.

Holiday PC Dec 17th. at 11:02:44 am UTC

Nikki (Fort Worth/Dallas, TX) Age: 25 - Email - Web

I personnally say Happy Yule to my friends and family.

However, while I am at work I try to be as PC as possible and say Happy Holidays.
My cubicle is decorated (so far) with stocking, stars, lights, angels, carolers, Yule trees, and a little holiday village.

These are all things that make me happy to look at durring the holiday season.

I agree I am very tired of the stores around me moving in the Holiday stuff before Samhain is even over!

I think we out to start a group to stop spreading the Holiday Cheer out before December 1.

Not Easily Offended Dec 17th. at 1:02:25 pm UTC

Angela Winterbottom "Anjorraine" (Louisa, Virginia) Age: 21 - Email

The holiday seasons don't offend me it's the people celebrating those holidays that are offensive. When I told my mother I was Pagan she stopped giving me, when my grandmother found out she sent me dozens of Christian books for beginners w/questions and cries uncontrollably every holiday. My inlaws are very old time Baptists. The first time I spent the holidays w/them I felt like Alice in Wonderland (I thought those stuffed mushrooms had some sort of "special" ingredient inside). They don't know my beliefs and are often pressuring us to join in w/their church. We try to be polite but the pressure is applied two-fold around this time of year. I am a firm beliver in "to each their own" but when someone is forcing their beliefs on another person that is when I get uncomfortable. I have found though that if I suck it up, wish everyone a happy holiday, and keep a smile on my face it is easier to live in the shadows.

Can I Talk About The Music? Dec 17th. at 2:53:04 pm UTC

ginger (Syracuse, New York) Age: 41 - Email

I love many things about this season and deplore many others, much of which has already been addressed. This will be my first Yule; I am quite new to my path. I was a practising Christian for about 8 years before having the self doubts, questions, yearnings, etc that began change. It would be hypocritical at best for me to pretend offense when wished a Merry Christmas.
But for more than just the last couple of years (rant begins HERE), I have wished I could stopper my ears to the dripping, sappy, overdone XMAS songs in which various artists try to outdo each other in emoting a superficial, media-created form of sentimentality designed to paint a picture of something between Currier & Ives and Eight Is Enough. BLECH!
Music is a big deal to me. I don't foresee myself having any problem with the purely religious components of Christmas. Musically, I prefer the hymns! I get asked to sing more during this season than at any other time, and I do not feel disrespectful at all singing the religious hymns because I still love them regardless of how or whether the messages touch me. I SO much prefer singing "O Come O Come Emmanuel" over "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (which I personally have renamed "Have Yourself a Knobby Little Christmas" because to me it evokes the image of the affluent, "uppercrusty" societal element - sorry, it just does).
I would love to learn some Pagan carols for Yule, even if I'm never asked to perform them. I don't yet know where to find these, but find some I will!
As far as being PC - that's Xmas. What purpose does it serve other than the commercial interests of predatory merchants? If a holiday has its base in religion, then don't strip it of its meaning - let it be religious! Who says you have to adopt the beliefs in order to be respectful? Nonsense!
OK, end rant.
I love snow and evergreens and candles. I love to cook. I love guacamole and chocolate (not together). I love being with my relatives & giving them presents. This year, because it was agreed that no one was to make any pricey purchases for gifts, everyone is getting 3 blocks of charcoal withsome frankincense and myrrh blend to burn on them. No one in my family uses this type of incense, nor do they know of my path change. I like the idea of giving a gift similar to that mentioned in the story of Jesus' birth. So what if my personal celebration will be of a different birth? Most of the recipients are celebrating the birth of Jesus, and those who aren't still like incense.

Have a wonderful Yule, everyone!
Kesair aka Ginger

No Problem Dec 17th. at 3:48:26 pm UTC

Amanda (New York) Age: 18 - Email

I don't have a problem with it. My parents and siblings celebrate Christmas. I celebrate Yule on my own, and then have Christmas with my family. I like it that way:) Christmas is for them what Yule is for me.

What's A Christian-raised JeWitch To Do?! Dec 17th. at 6:11:22 pm UTC

Melanie (Auburn Hills, MI USA) Age: 22 - Email - Web

I do not mind at all that there is an abundance of Christmas-related subject matter this time of year. That is the time of year that it is. It's true that I dislike much of the music played at stores this season, but that's frankly because I find the songs themselves annoying; there are many Christmas songs which I like very much. (Unfortunately, I work in Retail and the sheer repetition wears on my tolerance....)

What I *do* mind is that celebrations from other traditions at this season are often *ignored or overlooked*. (Chanukah is sometimes an exception, but only because of it's Gregorian proximity to Christmastide, not because of what the Holyday itself is. However, as Chanukah [thankfully] came "earlier" this [Gregorian] year, I'm not nearly as annoyed....)

I do not feel any more or less uncomfortable if wished a "Merry Christmas" than I do whenever any assumption is made. Rather, as with any such case, I correct the person. Regarding "Merry Christmas", I usually tell them that "I am not Christian", or give a more general reminder that not everyone is Christian. It usually takes me a few wishes of "Merry Christmas" to get myself into that frame of mind though, and until that point I'm more likely to say nothing or simply "you too".

I despise Political Correctness. It's a poor solution to erroneous thinking and assumptions. Instead of trying to incorporate a little bit of everything, we should be educating ourselves as to what the individual things mean in their own right. I've heard of Christmas trees decorated with dreidel ornaments and a certain Santa holding a Chanukiah (the Menorah used specifically at Chanukah), for example. I don't feel that the combination of two conceptually un-related Holydays that happen to fall close together on a particular calendar adds to either celebration, but rather detracts from both. It's frankly a shame. The beauty of the individual celebrations is lost when we try to cater to them all at the same time. That is not the answer. I don't like to offend people either, but if they are insecure enough in their faith to be bothered by me celebrating mine in my own way without challenging theirs, then there is nothing I can do to please them. What I can do is learn about their traditions and why the season is important to them. The best way to avoid offending someone's Holyday is to not overlook it, and in a public setting to devote equal time to it. But in its own right as its own Holyday celebration, not because it happens to fall close to the more widely practised Holyday.

As for me, my Yule celebration is still evolving. Many of my traditions are family Christmastide traditions simply because they are traditions for me at this time of year. It doesn't bother me that they have always been celebrated as Christmas traditions specifically because I find that they are completely compatible with my conception of Yule, many Christmas traditions being derived from Pagan practises anyway. But family is a strong tie to the past for me and for my spirituality, so why shouldn't I incorporate them into my religious tradition? To do otherwise would be to ignore too much about who I am and where I came from. What is important about what I do is what it means to *me*, not what it means to other people. In this cold time of year that is Winter, I love the promise of Spring that the Sun's "return" brings. The Sun gives Life-energy to plants, which will grow anew come Spring, and in turn give life to the other creatures that share this Earth with them. And I will celebrate that as I partake in the traditions of my family at this time of year. Yes, they celebrate it as Christmas and I celebrate it as Yule, the Winter Solstice. But we are together as we have been years before. It is a tie to the past and a look towards the future, just as every Sabbat reminds us of the Cycle of the Year.

This time of years is important to many people in different ways. So we celebrate for different reasons, but we celebrate. I will celebrate other Holydays if invited, and I sometimes invite others to celebrate with me. If the person is important to me, then it is important to me when something is important to them. That it is not mine doesn't matter. I want to share in the joys of those I care about. So I will celebrate with my Christian friends and family. (There are no Jewish Holydays that coincide with Christmas or Yule this year, but if it did then I would celebrate with my Jewish friends and loved ones.)

What makes me say "Humbug" this time of year? The repetitive stupid music, for one! But mostly the Catch-22 of it all. We all want to make the season more meaningful and focus less on the commercialism that has developed, and yet if we do just that then we're Scrooges. And so what's a Christian-raised Neo-Pagan with Jewish leanings supposed to do?! Link to More info related to this post -- HERE

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