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Xmas….

I realise this is treading on shaky ground 🙂 so I would urge everyone to remember that we all have different beliefs, thoughts and feelings…

I’ve seen comments before that some people are offended by the use of “Xmas” instead of “Christmas” (because it’s not including the “Christ” part – which is said to be the reason for this whole celebration).   Among my Pagan friends, many of them are very against much of the stuff that goes with the Xmas celebrations, which I find really bizarre given it’s origins.

I use the term “Xmas” partly because I’m lazy and it’s shorter to write/type  😀  but mostly, yes, because of the fact it doesn’t have “Christ” in it….  and not just because I’m Pagan, but because I think of “Xmas” as being something different to “Christmas”.

… let me explain…

As I see it…. there are many celebrations happening around Dec…  You’ve got things like Hanukkah for a start…..  The main reason for the Southern Hemisphere Pagans to find complaint with Xmas is because it’s Summer Solstice for us, which has nothing to do with snowy covered pine trees and men in heatstroke inducing fur lined suits….  But whether you believe in the Christian philosophy or not, you have to admit that there are 2 definite sides to “Christmas”…  You have the religious side…  with your nativity, angels and all that….  and then you have the other stuff…  what I consider the “Xmas” stuff….. the commercialised stuff….. the present giving, Santa, elves, candy canes, tinsel and all that.  The two really have absolutely nothing to do with eachother.

I celebrate Xmas… and I celebrate the Summer Solstice.  I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive.

Interestingly though… when it comes to arguments from those who believe in Jesus, about his birth being the only thing we should be celebrating at this time of year… and the Pagans arguing that because it’s Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, Santa and Xmas trees and all that has nothing to do with our beliefs – both are sort of wrong…

Firstly, it’s actually incredibly unlikely that Jesus was born in December at all, much less Dec 25th…  and I’m not just saying that because I’m not Christian and want to be controversial … it’s based on scientific fact, backed up by the Christian Church…  you see, the bible doesn’t specify when he was born (and the whole donkey, inn, 3 wise men thing is also just a story invented around the idea of his birth)…. but based on facts – such as the fact that shepherds do not stay with their flocks in the fields in the middle of winter (as both would likely die of exposure)… his birth wasn’t December.  Not that it really matters… I mean, we celebrate (if you call it that) the Queen’s birthday in June, when her actual birthdate is April 21 (I know, coz it’s mine too ;))  – So Dec 25th is a date picked to celebrate, in the absence of any other known date…. and that’s fine… just so long as you know, and realise then that not only is it not the *only* reason for December celebrations, that it’s just a date chosen to celebrate on…

But see, here’s where it gets interesting….  The main reason it seems that Dec 25 was picked as the celebration of Jesus birth… is because around Dec 21 is the Pagan Midwinter festival (when you’re in the Northern Hemisphere)… and “Yule”….   We use “Yule” and “Yuletide” and other such terms as another name for Xmas… but what a lot of people don’t know is that Yule is an old Pagan celebration.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule).

So what are the traditional Pagan festivities around this time?…. ohh…. feasting, having a “Yule Log” (though an actual one, not the cakey variety), wassailing (basically carolling)…. sounding all rather familiar isn’t it…

The idea of decorating a tree isn’t as clear cut (‘scuse the pun)…  it’s not believed Pagans would cut down a tree to bring inside their house to decorate (since that would kill the tree, and that seems an unlikely thing for a Pagan to do), but they certainly did decorate trees as part of the celebrations … which is likely to be where the basis for the tradition started….  especially if you consider that a decorated tree is pretty, and if you’re in the middle of winter, it’s going to be appealing to have your tree inside where you can appreciate it, rather than outside where it’s cold for you to go look at it… (http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_tree.htm) – either way, it’s certainly not a “Christian” thing…. if anything it’s just a thing people do.

Now, Santa….  We don’t do Santa (in the way of giving a child presents “from Santa”) because I don’t like the idea of teaching a child it’s ok to lie to them for the first few years of their life, when you’re trying to teach them that lying is bad…. much as my family thinks I’m evil for not letting MiniObsi experience the fun and “magic” of Xmas because of it… (we don’t do Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy for the same reason, but there is an egg hunt, and I don’t believe it really makes a difference who/what gives the eggs/presents anyway).   I’m surprised that a lot of Christian families won’t do Santa because they consider it to be anti-Christian.  Especially since the origin is a Saint….  Though in another interesting parallel… it is said that many of the traditions for Sinterklaas (where “Santa” morphed from) are combined with things to do with Odin….   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odin#Santa_Claus – so “Santa” seems to be a blend of Pagan, Christian and modern consumerism…. I guess how evil/good that makes him depends on your interpretation of that 😀

Personally I see Santa as a personification of love, joviality, generosity… I don’t see that as a bad thing, or a religious thing, or a commercial thing.  It is whatever you make of it. Though I do concede it is used for more consumer affect than draping a hot chick over a car in order to sell more cars…  The idea behind it though is pure.

Now I do get why Southern Hemisphere Pagans don’t like the Yule associations (being the wrong time of year), but I just can’t understand why it’s not embraced as one time in the year where Pagan traditions are adopted by many people…. and go with it…and why are things like baubles and tinsel so horrific?….

Summer solstice is about welcoming the returning sun…  HEAPS of Xmas decorations come in red and gold, which are traditionally associated with the sun…. call your Xmas tree a “Solstice Tree” if you like… but it doesn’t have to just represent winter… it’s cool to look at, fun to have up… I don’t see the problem and negativity (ok, yeah a plastic tree is a bit anti-Pagan, and a cut real tree is worse… but you could buy a tree in a pot and use that.. or something)… Tinsel and all that glittery shiny stuff reminds me of the sun…

I like “Xmas” – it’s fun… and I think it’s fun for all, regardless of your religion… and I find it quite amusing that the basis behind it is a blend of Paganism and Christianity – but that both sides don’t seem to like the glitzy “Xmas” bit that’s not religious at all…

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