This is just a short post today looking at a recent discussion from the BBC:
In this broadcast (which I heard via Oraia Sphinx, many thanks to her), the origins and meaning of Christmas are discussed by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (aka. The AFA—an evangelical group which leads many initiatives to instill religiously conservative values into Americans) and Professor of Pagan History/well-respected author Ronald Hutton of Bristol University. While it’s not really fair to pit a scholar and historian against a spokesperson, the overall conversation is interesting, if a bit charged at times. I’m not posting it to stir up controversy (though I suspect it may do so), but more because I thought it was interesting, and because I always enjoy hearing Hutton speak on history and theology. Also, Fischer makes an interesting point for those of us who are American witches—can we celebrate “Christmas” without making it (at least primarily) a religious observance? And do we need to? Is our country so deeply tied to its Christian roots that we acknowledge Christianity by acts as mundane as writing a check with an “A.D.” date on it? Or, as Hutton proposes, is America a collection of pocket communities each defining their own values based on their cultural, ethnic, and social histories? Food for thought.
There’s a rather neat musical montage in the piece, too, which outlines the different angles from which Christmas (and the winter holidays in general) can be viewed. Religious, Hopeful, Commercial, or Sad, there does seem to be a universal draw to set aside this time of year, whatever feelings it inspires.
So what about you? Do you have a “reason for the season” that you’d like to share? What does Christmas mean to you?
Thanks for reading!
2 thoughts on “Blog Post 111 – The Meaning of Christmas?”
I’m surprised I am the first to comment on this as the question seems to come around in the pagan community quite a bit and everyone seems to feel pretty strong about their beliefs.
This is me, others results may vary :>)
Many years ago, I celebrated, sort of, as a Christian holiday, because I was basically Christian at the time. But as I look back, all these years later, I realize it was always the secular or spiritual things that I enjoyed the most, such as the cold night air with all the lights glowing, the foods from different cultures, the tree in the house, which has always been a sign of bringing in nature, since I was and still am a lover of nature and her beauty. And an almost unhealthy obsession with Santa (and his many helpers and names), not so much about the gift giving, but his history, and the magic of what “they” do.
So now, I still love all those things. I have a tree, I put up lights, and all that other stuff, and I still love Christmas carols, christian or now (honestly, is Josh Groban singing O Holy Night one of the most amazing recordings ever, Damn that dude can sing!) but since I have been on my path for quite a few years now, most mean so much more. I have discovered the pagan roots of just about all the traditions. And the Solstice is a night for me that is close to my heart.
So to cut this short, I celebrate Christmas, I celebrate Yule/Solstice, but it is now one in the same. All the things I loved when I was younger, I still enjoy.
I think one thing people need to get over (oh ho soap box) christian, pagans, and everyone else, is the idea that THEY own the holiday season. You see the “keep Christ in Christmas”, as well as “Pagans had this time first, it is ours and you stole it!”. As much as I agree with the blanketing over the Christian church did, with all the holidays, why worry about it now. If someone is in your face pushing their belief on you, yes defend your point. But why carry a banner down the street and a grudge.
This time of the season is the truest time, when all of us, of many paths can enjoy it in our own way, and let others do the same. It would be great if everyone (Christian and not) could think that way. I think some of the stress of the season, that some people feel, would go away, if they were not so worried about everyone else.
For me, Christmas is about a progression. At solstice we celebrate the time when the sun is “reborn” or “reawakened”, the time when greater light is promised and hoped for and gradually comes (albeit quite slowly). Then we come to the New Year where we can use the hopes and longer days that come at solstice to accomplish our newly fixed goals. That’s really what those few days represent to me, and for me personally, the Christian story of Christmas represents that quite well! Of course, I don’t like it when Christianity (or any other religion or lack thereof) is shoved in people’s faces. But Baby Jesus works well in terms of allegory for my purposes, so I keep him around. haha
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