Holiday Survival Tips For Pagans
Welcome To The Holidays
You have found your path, and decided you are a Pagan. The world looks so different through new eyes and you are eager to learn and experience everything. The holidays, however, pose a special challenge, especially for new or “in the broom closet” Pagans. Here are some thoughts on the subject. Most families celebrate in a secular way these days. For adults, it is understood that everyone will celebrate in their own way and perhaps join together later for a meal. This is geared mostly to those who are dealing with a family whose observations of the holidays lean toward the more traditional or orthodox.
How do you celebrate the holidays?
Don't Make "The Announcement" Just Now
No matter how tempted you may be, holiday gatherings are not the best place to announce to a traditionally based family that you are a Pagan if they do not already know (especially if you suspect they may not be receptive). It may seem perfect, as everyone is gathered together in one place in most cases. Blurting something out when everyone is on another wavelength is not conducive to positive dialogue. It also does not give the proper gravity to a topic as important as your spirituality. In addition, if you feel that there will be resistance to your choice, realise that the negative association of an argument will be what your family members will correlate. It is best to carefully choose your words and your timing for a more relaxed period with enough space for proper discussion. Also, do not wear your largest pentacle on full display if it will not be well received. There are still those who are not knowledgable about symbols and have been taught to fear what they do not understand. If you have meaningful jewelry or symbols that you feel the need to wear that is understandable. You have the right to wear symbols that are important to you and your faith. I am not implying that we need to somehow apologize for our beliefs. Do not, however, use symbols or your beliefs for “shock value”. Our religion is as sacred to us as other people’s are to them. It should not be shoved in anyone’s face just to cause a conflict. All of this is especially true if you are a minor. If, however, your family and their keeping of the holiday is more secular and informal in nature then use your judgement.
Don't "Remind" Everyone The Traditions Are Pagan In Origin
If you are open about your path, there are still some pitfalls. For instance, new Pagans in particular like to point out that most of the traditional holiday associations are in fact Pagan. It is very likely that everyone already knows this. Most are aware that mistletoe is a Druid tradition, that the decorated tree is from the Norse traditions and that the 25th of December was picked specifically to coincide with the celebrations of other belief systems. Again, if you are in an open minded situation, and the origins of the holiday are being discussed intellectually, that is one thing. If you are with people who are literal minded and not ready to hear the history of certain traditions, then keep it to yourself. They will not thank you for it and will likely resent you and your beliefs.
Do Enjoy The Commonalities
If you are unable to be open about your beliefs, for whatever reason, you may need to join in with the traditions of others. Most of the holidays have points in common. For instance, many of the celebrations this time of the year revolve around light and love. Focus on that aspect of the holiday, and mentally substitute your own meanings and deity. Many of the songs can be adapted to a more Pagan meaning as well, even it you do it mentally. If you are expected to join the family in their religious observance, then you can always meditate while there. Talk to your understanding of deity. Adapt the words of the prayers in your head so that they make sense to you. Again, there is much in common among all religions. Find that point, and focus on it. It is all good. On the flip side, do not feel that you must allow yourself to be bullied into celebrating in a way that you are truly not comfortable with. There are non-confrontational ways to go about this.
Do Remember Everyone Is Entitled To Their Beliefs
Remember during this holiday season that everyone is entitled to hold their own beliefs, or none at all. Respect other people’s thoughts and feelings as you wish them to respect yours. Remember to act in an ethical manner. There are many cases where partners are of different faiths. This is more and more common these days. No matter what the differences, with understanding, love and a little bit of compromise it will work out just fine. Above all, families should be about love and not about judgement - and this works both ways! This time of the year should unite us all, not push us further apart. There are more similarities in each tradition than there are differences, and that should be enough to foster understanding.
Happy Holidays to all.