Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Definitive Ranking of Holiday Traditions and How most of them are Pagan

So I noticed that the last two years I have been doing this blog I haven't really touched on Christmas. Now everyone knows I am Pagan, and we typically celebrate Yule, however I was raised Christian and we celebrated Christmas in my family and I enjoy the traditions. Not because I believe in the birth of Christ, but because it is a good time to remember to love each other, be thankful and to forget your worries and troubles and be happy. I also celebrate Christmas because it's what Americans do. We get Christmas Day off, the stores have Christmas decorations and Christmas Sales, Schools have Christmas Programs and there are Christmas Movies and Christmas Songs...So I celebrate Christmas and it's not a big deal.

Now a lot of people have started saying things like Happy Holidays, as to not offend anyone....I don't really care, it's the spirit BEHIND those words that mean the most to me....not the words themselves.

People also get all upiddity about saying Merry X-Mas....How it takes the Christ out of Christmas....I could counter argue that...but I shouldn't';t have to. Not everyone thinks Christmas is about Christ and you shouldn't force your crap on someone else or automatically assume they are saying it to insult you. They probably just didn't want to type or text out Merry Christmas.

All that being said, most Christian traditions are actually pagan. So here is a list of the top ten traditions most Christians practice and how they are actually Pagan (or just have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus).This is not meant to offend, I don't really care if you are Christian or not...I do care you respect other people and their own reasons for celebrating this holiday season.

 On a scale from one to ten, one being the best tradition ever and ten being the lamest:

10.) Hanging and kissing under the Mistletoe

Mistletoe was considered a magical plant in Pagan lore. It was said to give fertility, life and protection and was sacred. It was gathered at summer and winter solstices and it was said to ward against evil spirits when used to decorate one’s home. This  can be linked back to the Festival of Saturnalia and other Greek and Roman marriage rites.Saturnalia was the celebration of Saturn, the Roman God of sowing or seeds. It was a seven day festival in December where work and business was suspended and slaves given temporary freedom.

9.) Stringing up Lights

Ancient pagans lit bonfires and candles on the winter solstice and the holidays around it to celebrate the return of the light.

8.)Using Holly and Ivy for Decorations

Decorating with holly and ivy is an ancient pagan tradition and was used by the Romans to decorate at Saturnalia celebrations.

7.)Red and Green as Christmas Colors
Green because Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are plants used during winter celebrations for thousands of years. It brightens up a home in the dark winter months. Red is used now-a-days because of the berries from the Holly plant and Santa’s suit, not really Pagan as such, but not Christian either.

6.) The Yule Log

There are a few Yule Log origin stories. In Northern Europe, Winter festivals were considered to be a Feast of the Dead, complete with ceremonies full of spirits, devils. Burning bonfires and special wood helped keep away the evil spirits. The origins of the Yule Log can be also be traced back to the Midwinter festivals, where Noresmen would feast and drink while burning fire in the hearth, toasting to health. To most Europeans burning the log for at least 12 hours would bring protection from evil and the ashes were spread over the fields and in wells to bring fertility and purification. Ashes were also used in charms to ward off storms and get rid of vermin.

5.)Celebrating on December 25th

When the Church came in and basically took over they changed many Pagan holidays to match Christian ones to make the transition easier and more appealing. For Christmas they took the Winter Soltice, or Yule and decided, “hey let’s make this Christmas, Christ’s birthday celebration.” (Not the exact words, by the by.) Due to certain passages in the bible most scholars believe Jesus wasn’t even born in the winter, that he was a spring or summer baby

4.)Christmas Trees

During the winter solstice people would hang boughs of pine, spruce and fir over their doors and windows to keep away evil, evergreen plants and trees also reminded them that even though it was winter and the Sun God was gone he would come again. Ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes to symbolize life over death, Romans used evergreen boughs in their homes during Saturnalia and the Druids used them as symbols of everlasting life. Though Christians did start the tradition of decorating the tree in the 16th century.

3.) Santa Claus

  The oldest story is from 280 A.D in Turkey, it is stated he was a monk, turned Saint, but I could find no mention of who gave him saint hood, or what the original name was. The main story was he was a guy who saved sisters from being raped and gave all his worldly belongings to the poor.  You also have Sinter Klaas in Dutch, Kris Kringle for the Swiss and Germany. In Scandinavia he is thought to be an elf named Jultomten who is in a sleigh pulled by goats. The English call him Father Christmas, Pere Noel is French and in Russia he is an old woman named Babouschka. In Italy she is a kind old witch who rides a broomstick and gives toys. Depending on the area and year the myth originates most of the origin stories for Santa change, some adding Jesus or Christianity, some not.

2.)Krampus- The Evil Santa Christmas Devil

A half goat, half demon beast who beats people into being naughty or nice. He is said to be the son of Hel from Norse Mythology, a horrible Hag, Goddess of the Underworld. He shows up on December 6th and steals children away who have been wicked.

1.) The Giving and Receiving of Gifts

In Ancient Rome gifts were given on New Year’s instead of during Saturnalia in celebration of the fertitlity Goddess Strenia, Goddess of the New Year and Purification. Pagans gave gifts during Yule
. These gifts were normally more simply, celebrating fertility through wheat, alcohol and vegetables. Early church leaders actually tried to ban the practice and since the people wouldn’t let this specific tradition go they justified it by saying, “the three wise men gave gifts so we can too.”

-Christmas Caroling is a totally CHRISTIAN tradition. Read about the really interesting history here

So Merry Christmas Everyone! Or whatever Winter Holiday you choose. Be kind, be safe and be happy. Bright Blessings!!

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