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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: 21,747,153  

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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 

Thank The Goddess And Pass The Gravy! Dec 18th. at 12:35:30 pm EST

Saille (Missouri) Age: 26 - Email

I sometimes do cringe internally when someone wishes me merry Christmas, but I always grin and say "thanks, you too." The other day a co-worker of mine absentmindedly belted out a "merry Christmas" to a man in a t-shirt emblazoned with a Star of David and wearing a skullcap. I watched him cringe the same way I always do, then he grinned and said, "thanks, you too." I gave him my best sympathetic smile.

We're not the only ones barraged by unwanted Christmas cheer.

On the flip side of that, on Yule I'll light a candle and spend some time outside alone in quiet celebration, then on Christmas day I'll open presents and sit down to Christmas dinner. As the rest of my husband's family says their prayer to Christ, I'll thank the Lord and Lady, tip my hat to Jesus, and dig in for some turkey.

Happy holidays, everybody, whatever those holidays may be.


Tis The Season? Dec 18th. at 12:40:05 pm EST

Laura (California) Age: 56 - Email

i object to the commericalism. buy, buy, buy is overdone. some of the music is fine, of course too much of anything is not good.
general, we use this as a time to say our 'thank yous' to many as we prepare for Full Moon and Winter Solistis.

Just Move On Dec 18th. at 12:57:31 pm EST

Haze Wing (Maryland (The USA)) Age: 16 - Email

My mothers side of the family is Christan and my fathers side is Jewish. Out of respect i celebrate (or rather, come downstairs and watch) Chanuckah with my family. I am fine with this but sometimes my (Jewish) Grandmother will try to make me read prayers in Hebrew, that makes me uncomfortable, so I refuse. At Christmas, I pretty much do the Chanukah thing. The indoor tree and electric lights bother me because I dont feel that they keep with tradition. I celebrate yule with my friends rather than family. We choose the tallest pine we can and decorate it with candles and the like. We then celebrate yule normally. For me, the Yuletide season will not be spoiled by others wishes and I have learned just to move on.

Merry Yule (in 3 days!!)
-Haze Wing

AStefalumpy Dec 18th. at 1:04:59 pm EST

Stef (AOL) Age: 17 - Email

Look Christmas is about peace between all cultures pagan and wiican and christian etc alike Link to More info related to this post -- HERE

Peace On Earth... Dec 18th. at 1:39:20 pm EST

RuneWolf (Reston, VA) Age: 44 - Email - Web

I grew up in a strange era – the Pledge of Allegiance was said every morning in school, and nobody quibbled over “one nation under God.” At the same time, our young teachers were very enthusiastic about teaching us the true (Pagan) origins of many of the Christmas traditions. So very early on I had the sense that we Christians – I grew up Christian – were only celebrating “our version” of Christmas, and that there were other, different, sometimes older “versions” out there.

Later I learned of Chanukah and Kwanzaa and the deeper Pagan origins of our yearly celebrations, and it all seemed to fit nicely together.

I think that Christmas and the Christmas season are separate, the former being a celebration unique to Christianity, and the latter being a cultural/national holiday that has evolved there from. I know stone-cold atheist materialists that will still wish you a hearty “Merry Christmas!” and mean it, in the purely secular sense. A few of my Jewish friends don’t even bother to respond with “Happy Chanukah!” or some such. It is as if the secular holiday is now presumed above the religious.

I greet my Pagan friends with “Merry Yule!,” my Christian friends with “Merry Christmas!” and everyone else with “Seasons Greetings!” or “Happy Holidays!” When, that is, I am paying attention. When I’m not, everyone gets a plain old “Merry Christmas,” regardless of his or her faith. Its what I grew up with, and I have a lot of other re-programming to do on myself that takes priority over that!

My wife is Christian, so we celebrate both Yule and Christmas, and I never let her forget that Yule comes first on the calendar! We exchange token gifts on Yule, and then go full-bore on Christmas day. With my Pagan friends, I exchange gifts on Yule, do a group ritual or two, and then have a private celebration on my own, with just me, the Goddess and the God.

My feelings at Yule are a mixture of the Christian influence of my youth and the Pagan orientation of my present life. I think we desperately need a time each year when “peace on Earth, good will toward (All)” is the dominant theme. In fact, we need it every day. But if once a year is all we can muster, that will have to do for now. And even as a Pagan I don’t have a problem celebrating the birth of a man whose message was Love. I love autumn, but I am no fan of winter, so I look forward to Yule to mark the return of the Sun on the Wheel of the Year. In practical terms, it tells me that spring will come, in its own time. Metaphorically, the yearly return of the Sun is like the return of love and hope when we think it has left for good. It tells me that there will be “dark” times in my life, times of cold and dearth, but that these will pass as surely as Samhain passes, and the light of hope and love will return.

Merry Yule To All!


I Love Christmas Dec 18th. at 2:01:26 pm EST

C A Tyron (Los Angeles, CA) Age: 36 - Email

Christmas is about the power of love against the dying of the light. As a Pagan I will celebrate at the drop of a hat.I grew up with Christmas and the carols are a part of me now. Having been the child of basically atheistic parents I guess I don't have the strong angst that some folks have and the persecution issues. A beautiful song is a beautiful song, whether it is about Jesus or Santa Claus. We celebrate Yuletide and Christmas at our house.
I don't feel it is my place to define a Pagan creed but I do think it stands in marked contrast to the typical intolerance of Christianity. It is the Christians that are so worried about their purity and pedigree and keeping out untorward influences. To me, the Witches' life is all about a real relationship with ones environment-you know,like "What Would Earth Mother Do?" I believe She would continue to sustain us and judge not. Pagans are warriors but they are lovers first.

Not At All Dec 18th. at 2:32:21 pm EST

GoddessofJava (Vermont) Age: 34 - Email - Web

I mean, really...

Barring the Creche and the name, all the trimmings, trappings and customs of the holiday are as pagan as can be. Rebirth of the God, Mistletoe, feasting, gifts, candlights.

What the hey? A rose by any other name.

Nope Dec 18th. at 4:06:28 pm EST

Brenna Sidhe (Vancouver, BC) Age: 20 - Email

I am definately not offended by Christmas.
I grew up celebrating it, and will probably continue to celebrate it with my family.

The only thing that bothers me about the season is how miserable a lot of people get, and the commercialism.

My family has never officially celebrated the religious aspects of the holiday. It's always just been an opportunity to bake 3 million cookies and get together with family for a huge feast.
I know the religious origins, and a little bit about the other religious holidays at this time of year ... but it's never been an issue. Even when I first found Paganism, I knew that one of the main things is to respect everyone's path, and that's how I've always felt ... I never went through that stage of "if someone says Merry Christmas, they're obviously discriminating against me, and trying to convert me to Christianity" ... I realized that Christmas is a holiday that is celebrated very widely at this time of year, and there are a lot of Christian / Catholic people out there, and when they wish you a Merry Christmas, they are just wishing you well.

I do believe that Christmas has become, for the most part, Secular.
But I do know that there are those who still celebrate it because they believe it celebrates the birth of the Christ, and they go to church and pray - and for them it is a Different Christmas than for everyone else.

This Winter Solstice, I will probably bake some cookies to share with loved ones, and take some private time to just sit and medetate, and possibly have a chat with the Gods.

Actually... Yes, I Am... Dec 18th. at 4:54:53 pm EST

Davian RavenStone (Ft. Meade, MD) Age: 26 - Email

Yes. I am indeed offended by Christmas.

Not Christmas itself, but it's incorrect, war-like possitionining on the calendar. This Holiday was strategically placed around the Pagan Holiday of Yule. December 25 is NOT Jesus' Birthday. The current date of Christmas, or shall I call it 'Christmas [Observed]' is no more than a lie which was intended to manipulate Pagans of old into accepting the Christian movement as their 'new path.' I respect no lie.

If I were Christian, I would see this as disrespecting myself and God. It's no more lunacy than me worshipping Summer Solstice on March 19.

No offense... But I think we've grown too soft and accepting of the weapons used against us. This is NOT what it means to 'Harm None.'

Similar, But Different. Dec 18th. at 4:56:52 pm EST

Arachne (London) Age: 35 - Email

The blanket Christmas coverage is tiresome, given that Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim celebrations don't get a generous slice of programming at the time of their major festivals. Paganism as a whole is a smaller religious minority, and if the bigger religious minorities are ignored or shoved into less than prime time, I'm not surprised that Pagan festivals get less than wall to wall coverage.
I try to take "Merry Christmas" in the spirit in which it was meant. I don't feel uncomfortable being wished it, except when the person doing so is a non-Christian, has assumed I'm Christian (because I'm white, don't cover my hair, and don't wear a bindi) and feels (s)he has to say it in order to keep me as a customer. I usually reply with something like "Thank you, and the same to you". Oto I feel v uncomfortable when Christian relatives expect me to say "Happy Christmas etc" to them, and I spend ages each year finding cards with "Seasons Greetings" on the inside and something not too Pagan for them on the outside. Good compromises are xmas trees, snowscapes, robins, Santa, deer, penguins, doves, snowmen, holly, ivy or mistletoe.
PC hasn't ironed out the differences between Divali, Hannukah, Ramadan, Yule, and Christmas as much in the UK as it apparently has in the USA. Divali fireworks start soon after Bonfire night, and sometimes places with the right ethnic mix have Melas or parties & street processions of Hindus. Next comes Hannukah - with Jews taking a couple of days off, and doing their thing in their synnagogues and homes. Then Ramadan, and Eid, when supermarkets suddenly don't have as many Muslim women buying food during peak hours, and the fireworks go off again. Then Yule, when places like London stage Yule/Saturnalia parties for those who like them - with the usual feasting, drinking, fun and more fun later between consenting adults. Lastly Christmas, which the shops have been exhorting us all to shop for since August! Btw, commercialism isn't just for Xmas - it's possible to buy cards for Divali , Hannukah, Yule, and Eid. IMHO people who want to find spiritual meaning in their own late autumn/winter religious festival still do so, even when surrounded by plastic tat..
IMHO Yule means: Blowing a raspberry at the darkness. A "there - even with mild SAD, I've got through it this far, only a few months to go now." This autumn and winter have been so wet & overcast this year that I've almost forgotten what bright sunlight's like. My partner & I'll exchange gifts, have a good meal, light candles, and generally enjoy ourselves.
I'll spend late Christmas Eve through 'til the day after Boxing Day with Christian relatives. Some of them'll be taking Communion on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, but I prefer not to abuse a sacrament by taking it when not Christian. Gift-giving, socialisng, and the meals together are as far as I'll go.
I love the Christmas etc lights - the ones in Tooting (area with a lot of Hindu & Muslim shopowners) are truly inclusive this year - stars, suns, crescents, oil lamps, candles, spirals, snowflakes, trees etc; Streatham has (among others) pop-up Santas; and Oxford Street & Regent Street have silvery white lights making fake snow & icicles.
I dislike the pressure to get everyone perfect presents, and wrap them expensively; dressing in expensive clothes for Christmas which I won't get to wear for the rest of the year; families having to act perfect "because it's Christmas"; people who complain about how commercial it all is, then get the hump if their present is small & simply wrapped; and most of all I really hate just how much sheer hard work Christmas is for females.

Nope, I Love It! Dec 18th. at 6:01:54 pm EST

DolphinSmile (Austin, TX) Age: 21 - Email

I am not offended by Christmas at all, and quite frankly I'm sick and tired of both Christians and Pagans whining about who's holiday it is. Christians have been celebrating Christmas for hundreds of years and, well, this may offend some Pagans, but I think if they DIDN'T change Yule into Christmas, all these wonderful traditions would have died out long ago! Christmas kept Yule alive under a thin veneer of Christianity, until we came along and can appreciate it for what it really is, a holiday that belongs to both of us!

I've celebrated Christmas all my life, even though I was an atheist for most of them. My family is still non-religious and they still celebrate Christmas. I celebrated it more for the coming of Santa Claus, than for Jesus's birthday, but it was still a magical time for me, and became even more so when I became a Pagan and could attach more spiritual meanings to it. I have to often take on the role of Scrooge's nephew Fred, trying to stay positive and remind people what this season is really about. It's about people coming together for some love and warmth and cheer in the middle of dreary winter. It's about finding that special someone the perfect gift, and seeing them light up on Christmas morning when they open it. It's about forgetting your diet and eating lots of wonderful foods like honey baked ham, and egg nog, and rum balls, and fudge! It's about remembering those less fortunate than us and doing things to help them, whether you drop some change into one of those red kettles, or donate a toy to a needy child, or help out at a shelter.

No, I don't mind hearing about Jesus either. Christmas is about the good side of Christianity anyway. I've always liked the story of Jesus's birth. How he had such humble beginnings being born in a stable and everything. I think it's really sweet. I also love the music, and I don't care what Wren says! I got the Time Life Christmas CD, with great stuff like "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree", and "Holly Jolly Christmas", and "Winter Wonderland". Nothing like Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra to give everything the right mood.

Christmas, Yule, whatever, it's not important to me what you call it. Just don't forget what this time of year is really all about, or IMO you're as bad as those people who make this season too commerical, or do other Scroogy things to distract us from the true meaning of Yule. Lighten up, have some egg nog, quit stressing yourself, put another log on the fire, hug someone you love, and do anything you can to give yourself a bad case of the warm fuzzies!

And excuse me for oozing the Yuletide cheer! Someone's got to do it.

No Problems Here... Dec 18th. at 6:26:01 pm EST

Raven Oakwood (Newfoundland) Age: 17 - Email

I have no problems with Christmas. I come from a Christian family, and I was raised around it. When I discovered Paganism, so to speak, I wasn't about to end a tradition like that. I choose to ignore Christianity's "dirty" past, and the negative reasons, and look to the reasons that Charlie Brown and Linus have been preaching since the 60's - that Christmas isn't about the materialism, it's about loving, and being with your family. I wasn't going to stop enjoying the Christmas season because of an official change in beliefs system.

I live in a small town that is mostly Christian, so pretty much everyone is going to say "Merry Christmas" to me. But even so, I don't think anyone should find good cause to find offense to it. I don't really see anyone wishing me Merry Christmas as their attempt to convert me, or their egocentric belief that everyone is Christian. Most people just want to wish you a, well, Merry Christmas. I usually find myself more amiable towards our fellow man at Christmas. And, as someone said about salespeople only saying it to make a sale, use some logic. Is a salesperson going to earn a living by being nice or by being rude? What would you expect them to do?

Happy Yule and Merry Christmas!

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