Thinking About: Christmas, Yule, and the Solstice
We had a discussion last night at our local moot about Christmas and whether it’s right that some Pagans celebrate it. The discussion came about after a member of the moot read a Facebook update from a Pagan in absolute meltdown about the topic. They thought is was utterly wrong. So, what did we think? It was another interesting and thought-provoking night.
Personally I have no problem with anyone celebrating anything they want. If I look back at my life I was raised in a culture that celebrates Christmas. As a child I found it a wonderful time of year and, to be honest, the religious aspects weren’t the important things (to be quite honest, I barely noticed them). It was the community, of bringing the family together, sharing a drink, a smile, the giving of gifts, and watching TV (or maybe falling asleep in front of it, belly full and content). If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I am a child of Summer and have trouble when the evenings draw in. If I didn’t have Christmas and the New Year to look forward to I’d probably drop into a dismal depression until the Spring Equinox. So I love the festive season. No, I don’t call it Christmas, I call it Yule, but most people around me, whether Pagan or not, know what I’m talking about, and I have no problem wishing my non-Pagan family and friends a happy Christmas.
I’m not bothered by the commercials on the TV. I am bothered when I see grown adults arguing and fighting over something in a shop, but I’ve only ever seen that on news reports. I know it happens, but on the whole I don’t think most people do that. I am bothered that the idea of it’s the thought that counts seems to have gone out of the window if little Johnny doesn’t get the latest iPad or whatever they want that costs hundreds of pounds. But really that’s down to the parents to sort out.
Spiritually it’s one of my favourite festivals. The Winter Solstice that is. I know that three days after the Solstice that glorious ball of fire will begin to increase his arc in the sky, and each day will get around 2 minutes more daylight in the evening. That’s great. Bring it on. So to sit down to a glorious meal on the 25th December, three days after the Solstice, with friends and family, opening gifts and celebrating makes perfect sense no matter what we call it.
Most of us know that of all the Christian festivals Christmas has the most obvious Pagan roots. No one knows when Christ was really born, and there are plenty of other blog posts around the webs that are currently talking about the Pagan origins of the festival. But I wonder if the vast majority of folks who set up their decorations, cook a gorgeous meal, give their gifts, welcome their family and friends, and sit down to watch the Doctor Who special, are really focussed on the idea of a Winter celebration rather than the arbitrary date of Christ’s birth, or even the position of the Sun in the sky.
Well, the position of the Sun in the sky is important to me, and I celebrate that on the day of the Solstice, and then again a few days after on the 25th. Luckily it seems most of the secular world are also celebrating something too, so I’m happy to forget the differences, and focus on having a party together.
Whatever you call it, have a wonderful festive season, and hail the Sun reborn!