A Very Merry Mithras: Holiday Controversy

As we are all sleeping in and filling our fists with mugs of java a little holiday controversy to browse as our grey matter rearranges itself is in order.

Jason Pitzl-Waters (author of The Wild Hunt) made the case that secular Christmas celebration are just people doin’ what comes natural:

So all those non-Christians celebrating “Christmas” are simply doing what comes naturally, and the insistence by some Christian pundits and activists that December and its merriment somehow belongs only to Christians, or needs to be rescued from the evils of secularism in the name of Christ, completely miss the point of why we go to such great efforts to gather together. We aren’t waging a “war on Christmas”, or disrespecting Christian tradition, instead we are hearkening back to deeper, older, instincts.

T. Thorn Coyle (author and musician) had a slightly different take on non-Christians celebrating Christmas:

Perhaps if enough of us cease to feed the monster, it will lose power, and Christmas can return to being a small celebration by a sect who believes that the Child of Promise so many Pagans speak of – the Bright One born from the cold – was named Jesus and came to work the magic of healing the sick and feeding the poor.

Jason thought it was a great perspective and posted it on The Wild Hunt where the comments section went to town, with reactions ranging from approval to anger. Thorn’s response to the controversy was a call for a return to love and connection.

“May my actions be the best ones I can offer. May I strive to be thoughtful. May the waters of healing flow between the worlds.”

So since I think both Jason and Thorn are fabulous, caring, insightful people I wanted to share their perspectives here, especially because I think this chain of posts illustrates how dialogue is happening in modern Paganism. It’s a fantastic thing to see the dialogues we are creating with new media run like blossoming vines through our communities.

I really resonate with Thorn’s perspective. I have been amused and a little confused by all the Pagans who have wished me a Merry Christmas. I have celebrated Christmas with my sister’s family the past few years but it’s becoming less and less something I participate in. This year she wanted to move our Christmas dinner forward and I made her change the date so it didn’t conflict with Yule. I celebrate Christmas in a limited way with my family but my heart is at Yule. I find it sad that Thanksgiving is waning with my family and they only really make an effort to get together at Christmas, where presents and not spending time together is the main focus.

I’ve already voiced my consternation over the commercialism of the season and the lack of goodwill. I agree with Jason that we should be encouraging people to spend time with their families. I agree with Thorn that our celebrations should represent our values. I’m thinking about what they have to say and how I will celebrate next year. How do I compromise between spending time with family and honoring my own values and faith community? It’s going to be interesting to see how I balance this out.

Whatever you celebrate, may you have authenticity, love, community, insight and growth in the new year!

Here’s Thorn singing with Sharon Knight and Winter of Pandemonaeon for a treat:

Keep you eyes on A Very Merry Mithras on the Pantheon blog as more content comes your way this weekend!

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  • Happy solstice. Christmas is another day off from work, and very welcome as such — though frankly I’d take the overtime if it was on offer.