As I sit here with my hot cocoa listening to Christmas music during the break in my Christmas movie marathon, I find myself more irritated than usual about my common holiday gripes.  I have two main scrooge moments throughout the holiday season that I typically keep quiet because so many of the people I know are on the other sides of the issues.  This year, however, I'm granting myself a ranting session.  


1.  "Those mean Christians stole our holiday!"  

Yes, this is from "my folks" -- the Pagans.  Every one of our major holidays is marred by some stupid "historic" debate that casts Christians in the role of villain, and I'm tired of it!  They moan about religious persecution, but they turn around and vilify Christians whenever they get the chance.  For example, Samhain (which is much like the Halloween many of you know) is marred with "Never Again The Burning Times!" which is a false theory that says over a million actual witches were murdered during the witch hunts throughout the world.  First of all, these women were, for the most part, Christians who were at the wrong end of disputes in their villages and the actual number is FAR under one million.


Yule/Christmas comes along and we hear the argument that Christians "stole" our holidays from us.  Let me begin by saying that I didn't know they could be "stolen" from us.  Is there a limit to how many people can decorate a tree, burn a Yule log, hang wreaths and mistletoe, celebrate a male deity being born, await the arrival of an elderly man (Santa/The Holly King), sing carols, feast, etc?  In addition, the idea that our holidays have been stolen is absurd!  Yes, church officials moved the celebration of Christ's birth to the winter (even though scholars believe he was actually born in spring or summer) because ancient Pagans already had their own celebrations at that time.  They adopted many of the Pagan customs for their Christmas celebrations because it was easier for Pagans to accept Christianity if it was similar to what they had celebrated before, the church knew that they couldn't stamp out the deeply-loved customs, and they probably seemed fun.  If, however, you claim these are stolen, I urge you to look at your own spiritual beliefs and practices.  Most modern Pagans (with the possible exception of Reconstructionists) borrow form a variety of other cultures, often tailoring these beliefs and practices to suit their needs.  Is this not the same thing the early church did with the ancient Pagans' practices at the holidays?  How can you condemn one act of religious syncretism and still take part in this practice you so disdain?  Learn to share like we did in kindergarten, and realize that the celebration of our holidays may be similar but that doesn't mean they're exactly the same nor does it take anything away from your celebration to share it.


2.  "Keep Christ in Christmas"

Yep, this one is for the Christians who feel there's some sort of war on Christmas.  There isn't.  When soldiers break into your home, steal your Bible, break your presents, tear down your tree and manger, forbid you from going to church or teaching your children about Christmas, and ban all celebrations related to Christmas, then you may declare that there is a war on your holiday.  


I'm sorry.  I know that Jesus is the whole reason behind the Christian celebration of Christmas, but does someone saying "Happy Holidays" to you in a shop really affect your celebration of this Christian holiday?  Does that simple greeting remove any lingering thoughts you had about Jesus at Christmas?  Does it prevent you from enjoying this Christian holy day and celebrating the religious side of the holiday?  No.  Then again, I don't think someone greeting me with "Merry Christmas" affects my religious observance of Yule either, but some might feel as if Christianity was being forced upon them if someone wished them a "Merry Christmas".  Using "Happy Holidays" instead covers the business's butt in case someone tried to sue for religious persecution or something (which, even if it saddens you, you must know is very likely).  "Happy Holidays" is all-inclusive.  It covers Ramadan, Chanukah, Kwanza, Yule, the humanist holiday, and, yes, Christmas too.  It shows minority religions that we are valued and accepted.  So, how is using it a war on Christmas?  If they decided to wish everyone a Merry RamaChanaYuleza, then you can be offended that Christmas wasn't included.  It is a holiday (a holy-day, if you prefer), so it's included.  This simple greeting doesn't show that it's less important or celebrated.  There is no war on Christmas.  


Christ *is* still in Christmas.  He's there in your church, in your family's celebration, in your constructing a manger scene in your home, in your child's blowing out the candles on Jesus' birthday cake, in your reading the story of the nativity to your family, etc.  That's what Christmas is, and it is up to you to keep it alive.  Christmas has never been about putting up a manger scene on public property, being wished a "Merry Christmas" in every store you enter, etc.  If it is, I'd love someone to point out the Bible verses that claim this.


A religious majority cannot claim persecution.  I'm sorry.


On a related note, those that claim "X-mas" takes Christ out of Christmas need to do some research before posting/discussing it publicly and sounding ill-informed.  X is the Greek letter meaning "Chi" which is the first letter of "Christ".  So, Xmas is a shortening of Christmas, not a means of removing "Christ" from the word.


So, as this graphic implies, why don't we all just stop complaining about who is ruining our holiday, who is infringing upon our rights, and fighting against an imagined enemy this holiday season and just celebrate?  When did the holiday season become more about complaining than about all the warm fuzzies, the spirit of giving, religious observance, and family that all the songs and movies tell us about?


Happy Holidays!


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Comment by Gina G on December 11, 2011 at 21:58

Thank you for posting this wonderful blog.  First of all, I should say that I was raised a christian and have questioned so much of it for so long, that I finally decided to step out and study world religions, including prechristian religions on my own.  I have been a solitary "learner" for years now and as time goes by, find myself more and more angered by the intollerance and arrogance of the religion in which I was raised.  Yet, I try daily to raise above this, and love and accept all people... including those Christians who now shun me for questioning their ways.


To speak to the point of this article, I can't tell you how often I've felt bothered, ashamed actually, when Christians become angry when the word Christmas is not used.. insisting "Christ is the reason for the season."  Their insistance continually has me biting my tongue! Even when I did consider myself Christian, this bothered me because I have had the great opportunity to travel throughout the world and knew darn well that their are many other philosophies and religious festivals that revolved around this time of the year!  I was distrubed by the lack of knowledge about their own belief system as well as their lack of general humility and cultural sensitivity.  

Yet, in this article, I found great joy and positive perspective.  This blog so wonderfully reminds us that the holiday is what you make it.  We each can celebrate this time according to our own ways and noone..regardless of their personal convictions or the fact that they represent the majority can change this fact.  Isn't this a wonderful thought! 

So, with this in mind, I wish you all blessings according to your own faith and conviction..for this season and the seasons to come.

Comment by Makoons on December 2, 2011 at 8:07

A wonderful set of points, Aislynn. I have been hearing A LOT lately about the "religious persecution" against Christians, which I assume they think is happening only because they've never experienced it before. My people's children were stolen from them for practicing their spiritual beliefs, and our religion was legally outlawed until the mid-1970's. We know what persecution is so just because some people or companies choose to be politically correct it doesn't mean they are taking a stance against Christianity. It just means they're trying to be more inclusive. That being said, I've had people hold my hand and pray for me to Jesus at the site of a car accident I was involved in and in hospitals which I take absolutely no offense to. If it makes them feel better and their intentions are good, what could it hurt?

I think both sides, Christian and Pagan, need to get over this "persecution" idea. They seem to think that if someone is trying to make their practice of their religion even the tiniest bit more inconvenient, that it validates them somehow. Everyone wants to be the underdog. Why can't you just be yourself and do what you do and let others do the same?

Comment by Flammeous {De Empress} on December 1, 2011 at 8:33

My same gripes exactly.


If I may add to #1:  Many Christians prior to Constantine's conversion, which was the onset to the merge as you stated above, lived in fear of persecution and hid behind *pagan* traditions  and customs in order to not be discovered. Just as much as some pagan paths over the centuries had to hid behind the veil of Christianity for fear of the same.

Also too, that*Christmas*as we now know it to be, is primarily influenced by the Romans Saturnalia festival (Which btw is a combination of honoring various Sun gods of the different lands Rome ruled over or was influenced by, rolled into one celebration.  So how's that for merging.) along with other cultural influences over the years.

So to complain and make of wind about *stealing*, is totally inaccurate but it's okay for Neo-Pagans to merge this God/dess with that God/dess alongside various theologies and spiritual beliefs which are literally worlds apart but damn those blasted Christians! ~rolls eyes~

As for #2.  I personally have no problem being greeted with Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah and or even Kwanzaa and/or saying it or course to the proper person if known. These are greetings of well wishes and blessings, so I take it.  Better that than been wished ill or death eh?  But whats so disturbing about this being *political correct* and getting offended who calls what, what, game is that that this is the problem that goes on in the Holy Lands.  The Muslims call a Holy Site this in their tongue according to their beliefs, the Jews call it that in their tongue according to their beliefs, then the same goes for Christians and there have been downright wars over this.  Such a petty thing. Let's stop being friggin' petty.  If you aren't willing to go to all out war about it, as we have been given a prime example of this, then get over it.  There are far more pressing issues in life than this.

Comment by Yarrowsage (heathenish delight) on November 30, 2011 at 18:55

Love, love love love! Thanks for posting this again on the internet.

Comment by Jen {Teh Pixie} on November 30, 2011 at 17:26

Well put my lovely!  Thanks so much for posting this!

Comment by Leisha on November 30, 2011 at 14:42

Very timely! I was just mentioning my issues with point 1 the other day in chat. I am preparing my list to send out Christmas cards and debating about whether to put up my Christmas tree (as many of my Christmas ornaments aren't toddler friendly--in that they're very fun things to play with!). I just finished up my Christmas shopping this week. Yes, I celebrate Yule with my spiritual family. We have a Yule log. We have a Yule tree (different from a Christmas tree). We have a Yule gift exchange. The two holidays don't step on each others toes...and they bring a lot of joy in their uniqueness and similarities to be such a source of sour grapes for some people.

Comment by Melissa on November 30, 2011 at 13:59

Oh this is wonderful! I've been noticing on another pagan site people getting a bit grouchy over Christmas.


I agree with your view wholly!


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