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fundevogel's avatar

What can I include in my Christmas celebration that incorporates its traditional, non Christian roots?

Asked by fundevogel (15459points) December 13th, 2009

As an atheist I’ve heard a lot about how secularists are taking the Christ out of Christmas and that we need to get back to the true meaning of Christmas. So I’d like to restore the most traditional (and consequently pagan) trappings of holiday cheer to my celebration.

To be clear I’m interested in any kind of Christmas/Yule/Saturnalia/Solstice/etc traditions from any religion, culture or corner of the world. It would especially neat if any of you have incorporated any into your own holiday celebrations.

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70 Answers

global_nomad's avatar

If Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ how is it pagan? Isn’t this the true meaning of Christmas, to celebrate His birth? I’m not trying to argue with you, I’m just wondering how it can be considered a pagan holiday.

spacemonkey's avatar

Feets of Strenght and the Airing of grievances from Festivus are always a hit.

ragingloli's avatar

The time around christmas has been celebrated by MANY cultures for various reasons and deities.
if at all, jesus was not born on christmas, his official birth was later moved to that date to coincide with the festivities of the pagans, to make conversion easier.

holden's avatar

I thought that “Christmas,” the celebration of Christ’s birth, was incorporated into the pagan celebration of the winter equinox.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Burning Yule logs and hanging mistletoe are winter solstice celebratory activities of European pagan origin, so go right ahead with those!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

The Christmas tree or Tannenbaum is a pre-Christian Germanic tradition. The mistletoe is a Druidic symbol. Almost all of the greenery and floral symbols trace to pre-Christian solstice festivities. I think it is a great idea, especially in the USA, to emphasize the non-Christian traditioins around the winter solstice as a counterbalance to right-wing fundamentalist evangelicals throwing their weight around politically. It will show the politicians that non-Cristians are are force to be reckoned with as well.

absalom's avatar

You could have an orgy.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, winter (or summer, depending on your planetary hemisphere of residence) solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice religion at all. Plus, a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of the other cultures whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to age, race, creed, color, religion, national origin, disability, political affiliation or sexual orientation.

(Disclaimer: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for him/herself or others and no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit.)

75movies's avatar

You could disembody yourself and have sex with virgin.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

i’m sure ” yule ” find a way to celebrate this stolen pagan holiday ! basicly ,, all you have to do is the same stuff .. without pretending it’s abought jesus or trying to convince othersof that .. the holiday rituals , and the holiday itself is PAGAN !

fundevogel's avatar

@CyanoticWasp perhaps this lacks the nuance of your sentiments, but you might have trouble fitting the other in your cards. You can also use it year round which is always a plus.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@fundevogel Thanks. I wanted to send you a link to an appropriately drawn card with the verse:

Money’s scarce;
Times are hard (on the front cover)

Here’s your fucking
Christmas card. (inside)

I guess with that said, you can sort of imagine the illustration, can’t you?

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@master_mind413 hisss! Not Llewellyn! D: Turn to something serious like Hamlet’s Mill. Okay, okay, I’ll admit, that particular book is slightly better than most, but the majority of llewellyn publications are pure fluff!

@global_nomad the celebration was coopted as a Christian one long after it began. There are several ways in which it is pagan. The most obvious are the shamanistic connections. The red and white theme comes from the “Amanita Mushroom” (or “Christmas Mushroom”), which Siberian shamans fed to reindeer, whose bodies removed the toxins and passed the psychoactive chemicals into their urine. In their altered state, the reindeer would prance. The urine was also consumed by the shamans ritualistically, hence the idea of flying reindeer.

The more complex origin comes from paying tribute to the aging, “retiring” fire deity from the previous age. This is why it is celebrated around the soltice, and during the “dying” time of the year (transition between ages.) Traces can be seen in all of the fire symbolism associated with the holiday and Santa (fire-places, descent/ascent through the fireplace and ash, i.e. rebirth, etc.) For a quick example of the origin of one of the well known features of Santa, he is said to live in the north pole, where he can travel through all time-zones very easily by walking in a small circle, and where the constellations also make severe arcs around Polaris. Specifically, the big dipper (swoops down, touches the roof of any building for a brief time, only to lift of again. It forms the sleigh shape, with 8 stars comprising the “handle.”

aidje's avatar

This doesn’t really fit the “tradition” criterion, and I personally think that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a pretty stupid joke, but you might appreciate these Flying Spaghetti Monster holiday treats.:

fundevogel's avatar

@CyanoticWasp nice, I’m imagining something Dicksonian, possibly orphans. Do post a link if you remember where you saw the card.

ccrow's avatar

@aidje those are awesome!

global_nomad's avatar

@Beta_Orionis That’s actually really interesting.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@global_nomad Thanks! I agree! If you’re intrigued, the book I mentioned in that post (Hamlet’s Mill) is the thorough academic work on the same subject.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@fundevogel I haven’t seen the card online. I have a photostatic copy (that is, “a printed copy on a piece of paper” for the paperless crowd who might not otherwise know what that term means) of a “card” that was printed in four quadrants of a standard 8.5×11 piece of paper, so that when the thing was folded properly, there was a picture of a leering Santa on the cover, and “Merry Christmas!” on the front. Upon opening the user could see the “Times are hard… Christmas card.” on the inside facing page (with room for a personal greeting and signature) and on the “back” of the card, a Hellmark™ ‘brand name’, with the tag line “When you just don’t give a fuck.”

With that information and any decent (or indecent, even better) word processor you could make your own.

fundevogel's avatar

@CyanoticWasp That’s even more perfect that could have imagined.

texasescimo's avatar

Everything about Christmas other than Christ himself is from traditional non-Christian roots.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@texasescimo… i think i love you ;-)

texasescimo's avatar

I want to know for sure. Wild thing

texasescimo's avatar

I had read a quote from someone along time ago, I think they were Wiccan. It said something like they like the way that Christians are willing to celebrate their holidays with them. I believe it was referring to halloween. Do Wiccans like that or do they resent Christians celebrating them?
One more question if you don’t mind, what do you know about Easter?

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@texasescimo .. i cant speak for all wiccans , or pagans , or witches .. i’m a witch , not a wiccan there is a difference .. but i myself , resent the fact the traditional holidays are celebrated as something else .. and the lie that they are telling everyone that it is theirs . the missinformation and attempt to overshadow and abolish the pagan holiday . some may be fooled into thinking the christians included our rituals .. to make it easier to convert… but even if that were true .. it is a war tactic.
pagans were killed off ,, had their holidays and rituals etc.. stolen .. then a reason was invented to place a holiday on the same day and call it theirs to overshadow any celebrations they did not kill off .. then they cover it up and sell the lie to you . i cant think of one cheristan holiday that is not pagan in origin !! easter, as you call it , is the pagan holiday ostrara . it is the spring equinox. this day is a fertility festival .. it occurs when there is a balance between light and dark .. 12 hours of each in one day .
halloween was also stolen, but it seems that most people are figuring this out… so now the church is admiting halloween is pagan…. and now calling it “satanic” to discredit it further…(which i find funny because satan is a christian deitie ) . and christians are the only reason there are devil costumes and blood etc in costumes .. and when the christians “joined in” on the celebrations , they dressed up as dead saints , devils , angels etc…incorporateing their symbols into it… the only devil is halloween is the one the “church” brought into it. as you see ,,, i could go on and on with this ,,,,,, just as long as they do .

master_mind413's avatar

website with lots more information

It amazes me how you can put the facts right out there for every one to see and there are still those people who will say “its a lie it is Trickery it is the devils work”

now tell me this who is the liar “the devil” when you steal some thing and then play it off as your own ?

Its sort of like the story told in the bible of the garden of eden god had you there as a slave this guy comes around and says this is not right this is wrong let me get you out of here and then sets you free who is the bad one here ?

christian religion is so full of oxymoron’s it makes a moron look smart, this is like saying hey you know what black people were slaves for many many years but we set you free are you still mad ? ” of course he is still mad ”

in other words of course pagan’s are upset and offended we had our people killed ripped apart pillaged murdered in the name of some political gain and then our sacred days stolen and played off as there own

why wouldn’t we be mad ? wouldn’t you be mad ?

And read up on history the bunny the egg yellow easter “ostara” all pagan

Christmas (Yule ) fireplace red green white the star the stockings gift giving the Christmas tree all pagan

Halloween ( samhain ) spirits orange gourds “pumpkins” handing out candy “feast” all pagan

texasescimo's avatar

Not trying to offend master mind413. I knew of some of that, but learned some more now. I found that quote that I was talking about referring to Halloween. [“It’s a religious holiday for the underworld, with satanists performing sacrifices and witches quietly celebrating with prayer circles or meals for the dead,” according to a USA Today article. It quoted Washington witch Bryan Jordan as saying, “[Christians] don’t realize it, but they’re celebrating our holiday with us. . . . We like it.”]
Ya’ll take care.

master_mind413's avatar

see again you are attacking the wrong people see satanists are a whole nother basket of fruit

pagans have nothing to do with satanists you see just like christians have nothing to do with satanists

satan is nothing to pagans because it is not part of our belief system just like gaia is not part of your beliefs it is part of ours you cant put every one together in a basket and i am almost a 100% sure that your quote some how came from a church because I have read the satanic bible and there whole entire religion is focused on gluttony they dont sacrifice goats they dont sacrifice anything which is why I dont understand why they call it church of satan in the first place but any how

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@texasescimo . satan is a christian deitie ! he is one of ” their” boys .
to worship him would be a branch of christianity .
and the “quote” you read was either from a “christian ” or the misinformed . which you have just become .

texasescimo's avatar

I guess that I will apologize again, I did not realize that I was attacking anyone. USA today is not a Church.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@texasescimo . you are right about IN THE PAST some witches quietly celebrating with prayer circles or meals for the dead .. not unlike the day of the dead celebrations…. this is to honor and remember the dead .. but to even put witch in the same group as “satan” a deitie from christianity (that had n not been invented yet ) .. is just wrong .
and “usa today” may not be a church .. but they are using “quotes” that someone else says… this does not make it true ... or even false for that matter ... they are just reporting what someone said. (that quote makes it sound like they are lumping witches and satanists together ) which is misinforming .
no need to say sorry .. this type of questioning helps get the word out ;-)

texasescimo's avatar

Thank you The Anonymous Witch, that is why I asked. I had read an article but did not just assume that was the way all feel. Quote: “Do Wiccans like that or do they resent Christians celebrating them?”
I did not know the difference between Wiccans and Witches though, but the article was supposed to be quoting from “Washington witch Bryan Jordan” rather than a Wiccan, and I was playing on my distant memory.

master_mind413's avatar

I am a wiccan, not a witch , Wiccans follow a religious path which is earth based one of the oldest in the world, earth based means that our religious focus is the earth, we have a god and a goddess we are born from the earth and return to the earth we are a part of the earth we care for the earth and the earth cares for us

Wicca is typically a duotheistic religion, worshipping a Goddess and a God, who are traditionally viewed as the Triple Goddess and Horned God. These two deities are often viewed as being facets of a greater pantheistic Godhead, and as manifesting themselves as various polytheistic deities. Other characteristics of Wicca include the ritual use of magic, a basic code of morality, and the celebration of eight seasonally based festivals.

I personally although I cant speak for every one, I don’t hate the fact that Christians celebrate it, I just think we deserve the recognition that is owed to us instead of lies that are told about us and pushing every one into believing that we are some how satanists ( that’s were I get heated )

also check out that other link I sent you, you could learn a lot about us i wont go into detail on witches i think that is best left to one of them ( A witch )

master_mind413's avatar

oh and when I said that it must have originated from a church is because it sounds like some thing churches preach about us i didn’t mean to get so angry there my apologies on that, it just seems so repetitive some times

texasescimo's avatar

No worries, that was kind. I got to go to bed now. But do both, Witches and Wiccans celebrate Halloween?

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@texasescimo .. it is widely debated ... but most in the craft will agree defination , a witch does magic, a pagan honors nature deities , and a wiccan does both . so… not all witches are wiccan ,,,,,but all wiccans are witches (in some way because they do magic) . we all do halloween ; ie samhain

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

the word “witch” is also misused alot .. people may be giving themselves that “title ” for different , uneducated reasons .

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch So is the term pagan… In reality, most serious pagans stray from worship entirely and even then, the ones that recognize deities of their choice should not be categorized as individuals who limit themselves to the worship of a “nature” deity.

master_mind413's avatar

Pagan is a very broad term used to categorize any one of a non christian faith

native Americans are pagans

some Rural cultural people in the congo are pagans

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

i figured anyone following the thread would realise i was talking of the paganism, that wicca has sprouted from… straying from worship entirely , would make them a witch if they still did “magick” . but in these 3 groupings the term wicca and pagan are religions. the term witch is not . unless they are also a wiccan. if that makes it more clear . i also said ””” it is widely debated… but most in the craft will agree””””
you can drop the word “nature from that comment if you want to get technical. ;-)

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch What you’re looking for is neopaganism (neopagan) which refers specifically to modern religions. The specificity is appreciated by the rest of us to clarify for the unfamiliar that paganism is not just Wicca and Witchcraft.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

no , actually i was not. the paganism i was refering to at first was both ,, i guess i should have said neopaganism and pagansim . but in answering that question i did not see the need .. if i was answering you .. i then may have . i am fully aware that neopaganism and wicca are ” newer” religions . wicca actually starting in the 50’s.
but when mastermind stated ”””, Wiccans follow a religious path which is earth based one of the oldest in the world,””” i noted he said ”””“follow a path that is old ””””” and not really saying that wicca itself was old… so i did not correct him and thought we were all on the same page .. if i wanted to cover every aspect and term , it would take up all the bandwith on this site… and if you notice .. texasescimo said the were going to bed . so i put it in a nutshell. i think you can understand , and im sorry if i did not include your views .

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@iBeta_Orionis . i also stated in my earlier post ”””” i cant speak for all wiccans , or pagans , or witches .. i’m a witch , not a wiccan there is a difference .”””” ........ i did this
to specificly prevent cross examinations and view corrections such as yours . ;-)
feel free to speak for yourself , to educate , and state your claim as i did .. ,, i’m sure you can do that directly , rather than speaking through me .

fundevogel's avatar

@master_mind413 You should clearly note when you quote material from other sources. It’s just good form. Not doing so is plagiarism which I consider disrespectful at best and theft at worst.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch I’m just disagreeing with your perpetuation of a false definition in the phrase ” defination , a witch does magic, a pagan honors nature deities…” Neopaganism and Paganism are not religions, they are categorizations. As you know, pagans do not identify with any one practice, so claiming they definitively worship/honor nature deities is misleading. This is why Wiccans have coopted the term Neopagan to refer to their practice, and Gardnerian Wiccans distinguish themselves further from general Wicca. Your desire to speak only for yourself is instantly negated when you go on to refer to something as a classic definition. That’s akin to “no offense” followed by something obviously offensive. I’m only asking that if you choose to step up and explain differences, you do so carefully.

Also, as you identify as a witch, I’m really interested in why you choose to utilize “magick” when it’s associated more strongly with Thelema and thus a view on magic that directly opposes the supernatural element witches generally hold true.

@fundevogel Sorry we’ve taken your thread so far down a tangent!

fundevogel's avatar

@Beta_Orionis It happens. Though at this rate I think will probably generate enough discussion to merit it’s own question.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@fundevogel hmmm… ~touches nose

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@Beta_Orionis . point taken .. i said it was debatable .. many have different views .. you are welcome to yours ... be it right or wrong . i would ask that you state yours instead of comparing them to mine . unless all you want to do is start a fight and try to gain support by adding pleasentries to others after commenting to me .

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

furthermore , i think i explained to you why i stated what i did how i did.. also even noted that others have different views ..even said sorry for not including you ..

so anymore comment from you will be for no other reason but to start a fight .. if thats the case .. describe yourself and your belief and practice in full . and quit hiding behind the tree throwing snowballs ,, so i can see the who and what im up against…..... or move on ! !! ps…....... you seem not to be listining to me…. you still assume i am wiccan or a new ager .. i am 40 ys old .. most of my practices predate Aleister Crowley and his thelma..

aphilotus's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch I can’t really see how @Beta_Orionis was attacking you or your views, but rather asking for clarification and maybe sourcing or reference of your views/arguments.

Snowballs? More like delicious cookies of clarification.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

like i said beta is welcome to state his own views .. but leave me out of it .
i think i was careful and clear ,, and admited you cant please all ..or include all or it would take forever . if i missed a point .. state your own . obviously our view clash ,, so why would “i” tell you about them .

aphilotus's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch Again, I don’t see any kind of view-attacking here, just a plea for clarity.

In general, it is hard to really have a discussion without each person in the discussion understanding the views, points, and opinions of the others- sometimes a simple rephrase or exposition upon a topic is enough to get it across better and allow for response.

Its not about pleasure or clashing, but rather understanding.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

i cant give you his views i dont know what the are .. if he wants it said right , say it yourself . otherwise its just an invitation to critisize.
which i tried to avoid in the firsat place ! i think i explained that but i keep getting baddgered ! please re read my posts you may see it now .

aphilotus's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch I’m not asking for anything, just responding to your feelings of being attacked, if you even are being attacked.

And if you really do feel you are being attacked, consider this:

If your views can’t stand up to some healthy criticism, maybe you should rethink how robust they really are.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

his are not mine . ! and when and where did i say he attacked me ????? like i said i think you should re read everything !

aphilotus's avatar


and when and where did i say he attacked me ?????

The whole snowball analogy you started was precisely thus- an accusation of attack.

From your post above:

anymore comment from you will be for no other reason but to start a fight .. if thats the case .. describe yourself and your belief and practice in full . and quit hiding behind the tree throwing snowballs

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

more like tossing it out there then hiding . no attack there .
the other was asking ‘if “he is starting a fight, and letting him know it sounds that way .. not accusing… again READ ! dont read into .

aphilotus's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch Ah.

See how much a little clarification helps?

Beta_Orionis's avatar


First of all, how can you say that I’m (she, by the by) not comprehending when I clearly am and have reiterated your points?

I have not assumed you’re either a wiccan or a new-ager as you say.
You clearly identified yourself as a witch and I acknowledged that (see ” you identify as a witch…”) in my question regarding the alternate spelling of magic.

Moreover, that was a very innocent question born of simple curiosity and interest and not in any way an attack. While some of your practices will certainly predate anything Crowley popularized, the alternate spelling comes directly from his influence, so I thought it was an interesting observation.

I find it disconcerting that you should ask for my own thoughts and, in practically the same breath, denounce any additions as me simply looking for a fight. Just as the pairing of “I don’t want to speak for all but…” and ” definition…” is contradictory, “You’re welcome to share your views… anymore comment from you will be for no other reason but to start a fight” is a seriously sharp double-edged sword.

All of that aside, the important thing is that this discussion has been about term use not anyone’s views or practices. If you’re so interested, however, a short visit to my profile makes my interests quite apparent. No hiding here.

I’ve been making my “views” clear all throughout. I’m really only concerned with accuracy.

As for @aphilotus stepping in, third-party mediation and shared views meriting support is fairly common here, so responding by asking “why would “i” tell you about them” is a bit rude.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

i see the problem .. you dont seen to absorb as you read .. i said ” why would i tell you about them ” ,,because i dont know what they are and they are not my views… i did ask you to state your clame as in “in an answer form” ... the “any cooment” thing was not a stop… i was saying to tell your story in an answer instead of commenting through me .
i do agree it seems to be my wording and terms that is the issue .. the magick / magic .. is an un noticed habit… my bad .. i do use both not realizing it sometimes . may i suggest to avoid this in the future , you just read my answers instead or trying to read ‘into” them and looking for something that may not be there .
i knew no matter how well i tried to place my words ,, someone would pick them apart .. and i told you i was in a rush because the other party said they were going to bed .. i stated i cant please everyone ,,, i said i cant speek for alll…(which you try to use against me ) even said sorry for not including you and your views .. master maind stated there are “other pagans its a broad word .” i tried to cover the bases to avoid this .what the hell else do you want from me ???. dont mistake my respect for weakness . even in a rush i tried to show respect in my answers . knowing “someone ” would have somethig to add or take away . gimmi some credit !

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch I’m not reading into your answers, I’m just reading them. There’s no inference; they speak clearly for themselves. If they’re conveying something you didn’t intend, I can’t help you there.

The Magic vs. Magick question was merely meant to start a discussion. It’s neither wrong nor right as long as you have a rationale and there’s no reason to back down now. I honestly just wanted to understand why you choose to use it.

This is my last effort, and then I am done because we clearly aren’t communicating (I still don’t know why you considered this a “fight,” or made it about views)

Views have nothing to do with it.
“Pleasing everyone” has nothing to do with it.
I was not trying to “comment through you,” and I very obviously had no “claim” to explain.

My point simply regarded the correct use of terms.
Paganism is not a religion, but a category.
Neopaganism is also not a religion, but a category.
A Pagan is not “by definition” that which you described.

Beliefs, differing practices, or individuals views play no part in accuracy.
Those are just the nature of the terms.

Best of luck. See you around.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

i agree i could / should have said “catagory of religions ” in my haste i did not. as for ” pagans honor nature deities” i stated in the sentance before it , that is is widly debated .. but “most ” will agree ..(you may not ) . i later said you can drop the word “nature if you want . as for….. ”””“best of luck , see you around”” ..... i think, and hope that we have come to a T on our path .. i’m turning left….... good bye .

master_mind413's avatar

what did I quote that I did not state a website from ?

fundevogel's avatar


“Wicca is typically a duotheistic religion, worshipping a Goddess and a God, who are traditionally viewed as the Triple Goddess and Horned God. These two deities are often viewed as being facets of a greater pantheistic Godhead, and as manifesting themselves as various polytheistic deities. Other characteristics of Wicca include the ritual use of magic, a basic code of morality, and the celebration of eight seasonally based festivals.”

you linked to the wiki article this was found in, but there was no indication that the text itself was anything but your own since you neither put the quote in quotes or attributed it to another author.

Perhaps you intended the link to be an attribution, but without quotes we wouldn’t have any reason to suspect the link was anything more than a related link.

master_mind413's avatar

if you cant look at the link and see that it says Wikipedia click it and put two and two together then….... well you fill in the rest

fundevogel's avatar

I did. And I pointed out that you hadn’t indicated that the authorship wasn’t yours. However, not everyone finds time to click every link in a 70 answer question (most people don’t). In not indicating other authorship you misrepresented yourself and your answer.

Plagiarism is rampant on the internet. I’m not asking for a bibliography or MLA formated references. Just still my academic wrath a little and use your quotation marks in the future. They’re going to waste.

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