Christmas, Yule Or Both? (Part 2)
Have the Yule That's Right For You
By now you get the idea I'm not big on young witchlets or baby pagans doing something for no good reason if they don't respond to it. I still remember being a young witchlet myself back before the Internet ruled everything. We had books and we had mail order catalogs and the books seemed a lot more fun back then. Well, if you read Silver RavenWolf they were. But by and large Yule was something to be enjoyed while still taking part in your community and keeping meaningful traditions alive.
Imagine if you will, being an elder in a family descended from you, all or most Wiccans. At one Yule feast your youngest grandchild asks what Yule was like when you were her age. What was it like indeed. As you start to spin tales about the first Yule you celebrated you include childhood memories of the holiday season as well.
She and the others are fascinated, why didn't you ever mention these other traditions? They never asked. I think it is important to embrace the positive aspects of our pasts and share them with those in our present. As the little ones get older there's time to discuss the bad times as well. But sharing the magic of the season, no matter what package it arrives in is the important part.
Here in part two we shall cover the basics of décor and more. Please feel free to take what you need and leave the rest behind.
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I Love This Song!
Fruitcake, candy, cookies! Turkeys, geese, and more. This is the one holiday most people feast and feast well. And what part those foods played in your old religion, if any, were personal to you. In my family it was a rather solemn dinner at one grandmother's over turkey and all the trimmings. It was loud arguments and drunken laughter over pasta and more at another's. But although it was vaguely part of growing up Catholic and happened on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or around there, it never screamed religion.
The quiet family Christmas Eve dinner would have wafers to celebrate the solemn time before Christ's birth. There would be carols or TV, the same I bet as many other households, regardless of faith.
Christmas morn was more feasting and a stocking full of candy. The giving and receiving of plates of cookies and more candy for us little ones as grandparents jockeyed for position. The same exact acts can be treated as secular or fitted to your new God/dess. Even if they don't have a winter celebration rare is the Divinity who isn't interested in a good feast or candy.
You might choose to set aside something for your ancestors if you feel it is right, a tradition pagans and Christians share, and some children show their new toys and stockings to the baby Jesus. So I'm betting if you have a statue any God would be interested to have a peek inside. Especially if you tell them that God brought them in the first place. Odin, after all, delivered toys and treats with the assistance of Sleipnir long before Santa came.
Just please, do not, for the love of Goddess go carrot and stick on them. Our Gods do not punish naughty children as the natural results of their actions is oftentimes punishment enough. I know my darling witchlets would never dream of doing such a thing, but shifting the blame to Odin is no more fair than dumping it on Santa or the Christ Child. Or Befana.
My Gods Tree
A lot of the music of the season is secular. Something a lot of folks more religious than I complain about. I don't see a secular holiday as a bad thing. Yule doesn't have to be religious every second, there's time for honoring the Gods and Goddesses we love and relaxing and enjoying the world around us.
And the few religious songs that come on? Some to me sound more pagan in the first place and if they aren't to your liking, don't play them. I'm not intending on sitting around listening to choirs all season either. Now as to music for our Gods, there you have your pick of the litter, though, excuse me, Loki seems to think that Last Christmas by Wham! loading during my Bing search is hilarious. But He has a point. Music need not be religious to please our Gods.
For Yule music a browse of Amazon, You Tube or any other venue should yield plenty of selections. There are songs and albums for all musical tastes and ages. Some are carols recrafted to suit pagan tastes and some are original works. And if you still want to hear the carols the way you grew up hearing them and a way that gives you comfort and joy too.
Remember our Gods love us and want us happy. If Yule music for pagans just leaves you meh for now, there is always next year. Here's one to get you started:
Yule and Solstice
Treat them the way you want to be treated. If a sudden and mysterious appearance of crosses and Jesus statues when you show up for Christmas and an obnoxious lecture from your host on how their religion is the One True Religion makes you dread the holiday, do not be so rude in return. While there are no reasons to change your décor or the symbols of your faith now is not the time or place to recruit new witches and we don't do that anyhow. Goddess calls the witch, not us.
So no, the giant inflatable statue of the Goddess and God in the Divine Rite doesn't belong front and center on your lawn, nor do the gigantic light up pentacles need be on your door, and it is very naughty indeed to have statues littered all over the place when you know very well they are just there to make your guests jumpy.
Our Gods don't want us to choose between family, friends and Them. They love us. If you know your fertility décor will send your maiden aunty into a tizzy kindly suggest a visit at her house or have a festive day on a neutral day. Treat your guests as you'd want to be treated and avoid arguments over religion for the time being. If they are truly curious there is plenty of time after the holiday madness is over to share your beliefs with them.
Being a Guest?
Trust me, I have been there, done that. What hurts is to see friends and relatives who didn't give two cents for their religion until you became a witch suddenly going crazy and trying to save you. It is also downright obnoxious if they rub your face in it every time they see you, let alone on Yule.
But that is how they choose to serve Divinity because they likely come from a carrot and stick religion with a nasty old Devil ready to pounce. So of course they have to "save" you because they will be punished if they don't do so. Remain calm. They may change over time, but they likely won't. Religion can bring out the best in people, but it can bring out the worst in people too.
If the bad truly outweighs the good then decline your next invitation to this gathering and suggest a meeting at a neutral time. Heck, we had family feuds going on that meant one family member staggered who visited on what day. So if your host is the troublemaker decline to attend but happily invite them to meet on a day where they must agree your faith is not open for discussion.
Hidden In The Open
Dealing With Difficult People
It doesn't even have to be Yule for chaos to erupt. I was once talking to a bus driver about doing yoga to ease pain from my fibro and some total stranger I'd never met before jumped in on how he hated yoga and started screaming at the top of his lungs that all yoga studios were cults that drug you into some weird religion.
Two things were clear. One, all the yoga, meditation and herbal tea in the world wouldn't fix this uptight dude, and two, his mind was made up. Don't even bother arguing with these people. Because they want to be right and they want to win at any cost, don't let them drag you into a fight.
Very calmly tell those looking for a fight that you simply aren't looking for one. You can say that you respect their beliefs but also ask for respect for yours. If they escalate, leave or ask your troublesome guest to leave. This is a season of hope, light and love. Not a season for religious oneupmanship.
Odin Or Santa?
Take The Chance For A Fresh Start
We all have parts of the holidays we could live without. Maybe you secretly don't like half the foods passed down to you, but you make or eat them every year because of tradition. While honoring the ancestors is fine, they never intended for you to keep traditions that have no meaning to you.
Or there's another element you honestly don't like. Whatever it is, give yourself permission to drop it and replace it with something more meaningful. Remember our Gods love us and want us to embrace the peace, joy and love of the holiday. Make the most of the season no matter what you celebrate and you will do Them honor.