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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: 20,940,180  

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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 

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

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 EST

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

Open- Mindedness! Dec 17th. at 7:26:33 pm EST

Mary (newport news, Virginia) Age: 12 - Email

i think its all bullshit, I just think people of all religions should just ignore it all if you meet someone of another religion wishes you blessing of their religion take it. they may not like what you believe in but to wish you the blessings of what they strongly believe in is a compiment and must care about you or they dont know their relidgion very well. for the xmas songs which are over played i think they are stupid and geeky, if you happen to be in a store which is playing it sing your ownn song. this is also a time of ignorance and predjudice, stay out of those peoples way to act like that they aint worth your time leave them alonne and try to maintain peace. stay happy or at the least look like it so people dont think you are doing something you arent happy with.

- mary,age 12

Why Would I Be Offended? Dec 17th. at 8:31:22 pm EST

Amber Heathen (Cornelius Oregon) Age: 22 - Email

There's no reason for me to be offended. I really like this time of the year. I like the lights, the trees, the food, the gifts (OH NO! some people are going to think I'm greedy!) I like buying presents for people, and seeing the look on their face when they open it. I also like it when people buy me something really cool or thoughtful. I celebrate Christmas with my family, not the religious aspect of it, but the getting-together-with-your-family-and-having-fun aspect of it. I don't freak out and come up with some flakey, half-assed retort ("But I'm not a Christian you narrow minded bigot!") when someone has *shudder* the nerve to wish me a merry christmas. I thank them and wish them a good one too.

Bah Humbug, Indeed! Dec 18th. at 12:28:36 am EST

Bittersweet (New Jersey, USA) Age: 29 - Email - Web

Yeah, I'm offended by all the Christmas hullabaloo. Considering a *Christian* holy day to be "generic" or "secular" is dangerous. News flash: not everyone is Christian! Even when I was an avowed atheist a few years ago I found the constant barrage of Christmas imagery stifling. As a Pagan I find it disingenuous to make a huge deal out of Yule and not the other Sabbats. Do I put up decorations, buy gifts, and send out cards for Mabon?

I also find it annoying that I have to plan events around this holy day even though I do not celebrate it. The birthday of the Christian savior means the city isn't picking up my garbage? My credit card payment is late because a million people sent Christmas cards? I have to sit in traffic for 45 minutes without even *getting* to the grocery store because there were no parking spaces -- why is this again? Oh yeah, because the birthday of Christ is also the high holy day of Capitalism.

This Yule I will mark the occasion the way I did last year. Unplug all the appliances, turn out all the lights, and sit for a moment in that utter (well, almost utter) silence and darkness. Meditation, prayer, and a few spoken words. Then I'll light a candle and bring back the light. Bread and juice and a blessing ends the rite. No shopping, no over-indulgence, no stress. Goddess Bless to that!

My Christmas Dec 18th. at 12:52:31 am EST

Celestynne (Miami, FL) Age: 20 - Email

Christmas in my family was a time for us to get together and feast on Grandma's lasagna. :) We exchange gifts, and I enjoy the day. Since school is over for a month now, I can actually relax and enjoy spending time with my friends, too. My favorite carols are the ones that convey the spirit of the season ("Let it Snow" and "Winter Wonderland", among others ;) ). When wished Merry Christmas, I smile and reply "Thanks! You, too." I'm a broom-closet solitaire, and so I keep Yule to myself and celebrate the family traditions with my family. It's just a fun time of year, and I figure (like with most things) that it's what you make of it.

I agree with what's been stated before: what makes me nuts this time of the year is the gross commercialism of the season. I have a pet peeve with the Salvation Army on their saying that need knows no season, yet you only see them in December. Working at the Rag Shop in high school, we got our Christmas stuff in June, so by time Christmas actually came I was so used to seeing Christmas stuff the season lost its magic.

Love, Light, Laughter, and Happy Yule!

No Need To Be Offended By The Spirit Of Christmas Dec 18th. at 7:15:56 am EST

phoebe (england/ united kingdom) Age: 14 - Email

it is my view that the original spirit of christmas is nothing to be offended by. what we need to take into account is what it has turned into. hardly any children think of the meaning of chrismas ( christ was born ect.)anymore and just think about themselves. it's i want this and i want that mummy and i want it now! they are more interested in what they get from christmas instead of what christmas really gives them. christmas is about love and compassion for one another and spending quality time with your family. i am wiccan and have been for two years, i celebrate Yule with my mother and then celebrate christmas with my family. if someone says to me "merry christmas" i reply the same too, i don't tend to say merry yule unless they were of a like mind. christmas is not to be offended by, it's what mankind has made it into that people should be disguisted by.

blessed be and have a very merry Yule/Christmas!

Sillyness! Dec 18th. at 9:47:51 am EST

AshMoon (Oregon, Usa) Age: 15 - Email

Kay, what i dont understand about this is there isnt saposed to be faith bashing here right? right! i got that down. now the next thing i dont understand is, i thought wiccans or witches or whatever each indavidual calls themselves, i thought they were open to new things. Like xainaty, or jews. I have NOTHING against the other holidays, and yes, i plan on celebrating them with my family. Im not fully wiccan, i just have wiccan influence, i have xian influence, jewish influence, hell, i have buddhist influence. Im my own religion! so im gonna celebrate each and every holiday i can! why gripe and complaine about other peoples religions/ holidays, when you could be out there, celebrating your own, and having a good time. which is what EVERY holiday this time of year is about.


Christmas Dec 18th. at 9:48:53 am EST

Avalon Skye (Hampton, GA) Age: 17 - Email

To me, Christmas is not family and I gather around and give gifts to each other every year...just because I've decided a different path won't change things...I'll still celebrate with them...

Enough Already! Dec 18th. at 9:52:18 am EST

Kay Warren (Sacramento CA) Age: 37 - Email

I am seriously fed up with Christamas, and Christian holidays. I've been a witch priestess for more that ten years now, and my scrooge level has not diminished. Mind you, I don't have any problem with the idea of "Santa", the spirit of peace, and giving tokens of caring and love to those you're close to. I happily participate in that. The season is a great time to slow down, reflect, and reprioritize. To renew and deepen connections with family and friends. What I object to, is having Christianity shoved down my throat. Stores start the Christmas music as early as Nov 1. By the time the 25th of Dec gets here I'm ready to strangle someone. There is seasonal music that is secular, (jingle bells etc) and I don't mind it so much. "Joy to the world" makes me seethe. Why is it that they are allowed, and often encouraged, to shove their faith down everyone else's throat for a month and a half straight. Across music and airwaves, with no respite, and we are expected to take this with good grace? In many ways the whole PC thing goes too far, but not in this. "Happy Holidays", is fine with me. "Jesus is the reason for the season" is NOT! What disgusts me about Christianity year round... aside from the fact that they have no problem forcing their religious opinions into public law, is the way they hijack popular culture to get their message out. I saw a sticker on a truck about a month ago. Picture a bloody hand with a spike through it, the tag line is.."body piercing saved my life..". You see it in their use, adulteration, and appropriation of corporate and fashion logos perverted to their purspose. The CK (calvin klien) emblem with smaller letters to the side saying "Christ is King", Tommy Hilfiger logo becoming "tommy hellfighter"... the list goes on. If I were the designer, I'd sue. The spirit of peace, I have no problem with, but to have Christians promoting it is hipocrisy of the worst sort. They are the bloodiest religion on the face of the planet, and we pagans forget that all too often. We fall for the candy fluff, we want to believe in the goodness of all people. Indivduals are rarely outright BAD, too often they are merely misguided. Too many Christians don't care enough about their faith to give it a critical examination. They fail to look carefully at what they're actually standing for, yet without doing this they pass judgement on those not in their club as "bad" or "evil". Chistianity is about duality, "us" vs. "them". They will find an excuse to do wahtever they please in "scipture", yet they act as if they have a lock on all that is good. This is a recipe for war and strife, not peace and love. Thanks for letting me rant.

Kay Warren

Yule, Christmas, Etc. Dec 18th. at 11:09:52 am EST

Vivhianna (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) Age: 20 - Email

Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Santa Claus Day, whatever! =)

I honestly can't think of any reason whatsoever to let Christmas irritate or offend me, or even
make me uncomfortable. It's always been a happy time of year for me. I get to see relatives who I
haven't seen in awhile (several of them live out-of-province), and besides, there's my choir's
annual Christmas concert, which is always one of the highlights of my year. Though most of the
repertoire is Christian-themed, I don't mind. I used to see the Divine in the same way that
they do, after all, having been raised Roman Catholic; it was my choice to change, so why should I
be offended by the traditions of the religion I used to be a part of?

I do have a bone to pick with those who have taken political correctness to such an absurd level,
though. You can't please everyone. And no matter what you do, somebody is bound to be offended.
That's all I have to say.

As for how I will celebrate, well, on the 21st I will go outside and hold a quiet little ritual of
my own in private, the same as I do every year. I'll spend the 24th and 25th with my family, and
we'll do the same things we always have--the special breakfast, the tree, the gifts, the visiting,
and all that. This sort of thing may not be for everyone, but it works well enough for me.

Happy Holidays, however you choose to call them.

Vivhianna =)

Christmas Is Fine Dec 18th. at 12:01:43 pm EST

Castalia (Central Ontario) Age: 39 - Email

Of course I am not offended by Christmas. The intent of Christmas is well-wishing. I am a citizen of a country, Canada, where Christmas is recognized as a popular social time. The religious aspercts are very pretty.
As a witch, my gods want me to be not only tolerant of non-pagan things, but to enjoy them
! All acts of eggnog are my rituals, or something like that.

Blessed be

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