3rd Wednesday: Current Events (issues from one Wiccan Witch’s perspective)
Hello my Witchy friends & tree-hugging buddies, and Blessed Solstice to you all! Because today is our holiday, I will keep this Wednesday’s Word rather brief and to the point. It’s not actually directed at you; this is an open letter to some (not all) Christians.
Dear Christians Who Believe there Is a ‘War On Christmas’:
I know you are probably very excited this month about the coming of your holiday. I know that you celebrate the Birth of Christ on the 25th, and that even though Easter is the most holy high holiday on the Christian calendar, Christmas is probably nearer and dearer to many of you, and warm your hearts like a cup of hot cocoa in the dead of a cold winter night.
I know, too, that you think there is a War on your holiday because some of us choose to use greetings other than ‘Merry Christmas.’ I know you feel that others are intruding on your holiday because we want to celebrate our own as well. I know you feel that a simple red cup or a ‘holiday sale’ sign somehow dampens your spirits and tramples on your rights.
I’d like to point out a few things that will hopefully make you rethink the issue.
- Jesus isn’t the reason for the season. I know you’ve been told that, and people in your religion might have made him the reason for your season, but it just doesn’t translate outside Christianity. Jesus was brought into older Solstice festivities and traditions that went on long before Christianity existed. If you would like to celebrate Jesus during this season there is certainly room for him; but you can’t force the rest of us to recognize him and him alone. That is an unfair expectation.
- Christian churches fought against Christmas until less than 200 years ago. Christians thought Christmas was evil because it was wild revelry left over from Pagan times. Churches used to close for Christmas. In early America, it was banned. The New York Police Department was created with the sole intent of cracking down on Christmas revelers. It was only Victorian writers like Charles Dickens who re-painted Christmas in a new light of warmth, family and hope in the mid-1800’s. Jesus was not the reason for the season for centuries.
- Your holiday in the USA is a federal holiday, where there is a separation of Church & State. No one has to celebrate Christmas, and if they do celebrate it, they do not have to make Jesus a part of the celebration. You can either withdraw Christmas from being a federal holiday and reclaim it as a religious holiday (and keep it for yourselves), or you can keep it a federal holiday and accept that the rest of us do not have to celebrate it in a religious manner. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t make Jesus be the reason for MY season.
- I am all for lights, trees, snowmen and other pretty scenes being displayed in public. I am fine with parades, festivals and other types of celebrations. You’ll get no arguments from me about mall Santas (another Pagan origin). On private property– have at it! No holds barred! But if you’re going to bring a holiday into the public arena of a country that offers religious freedom, then you have to let us non-Christians celebrate the season, too. That means secular Christmas celebrations, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, etc. That means if you want manger scenes on the front lawn of city hall, you have to accept a Goddess display if the local Pagans want it too. Or you can ban them both. I don’t want to take away anyone’s rights by having a Goddess display; but our rights should be equal. I would not demand special privileges– nor should you.
- If I want to donate a Goddess display for that front lawn, it’s not because I want to take anything away from you. Your perception that my celebrating Solstice rather than Christmas is meant to be some slight on you, or some war against you, frankly displays a ridiculous ego. It’s not about you. My traditions are meaningful to me, just as yours are to you. My fellow Pagans, though a minority, care about our season as much as you care about yours. We celebrate for different specifics, but all holidays in the season are entrenched in light, hope, peace and goodwill. You need to exhibit some of that goodwill by not throwing tantrums that everyone doesn’t clear the way and let only you do what you want. Learn to share– the country belongs to all of us.
- I say Happy Holidays. It is my greeting of choice in public. I don’t say it to offend you, I have been saying it for over 20 years since Christmas is not my holiday. I have been saying it since back when it was considered a friendly holiday greeting, before extremists decided that it was somehow an effort to stamp out any specific celebrations. You can say Merry Christmas all you want. You can print it on your business signs and ads. You can put it on your garage door and your church banner. You can tell it to me when I pass you on the street this month. You can sing it from the rooftops all the live long day for all I care… I assume you are offering it with a sincere sentiment. That’s fine. Christmas is not my holiday though; it’s not the first thought that jumps to my mind this season, or the first word that leaps to my lips. For me, it is the holiday season… my wishing you a Happy Holiday, particularly if I don’t know you, is meant as a friendly gesture. If I had a store, I would write ‘Holiday Sale’ on the signs. If you take it as a declaration of war on your holiday, you seriously need to take a chill pill because you’re misreading it; But that is not my problem that you’re overreacting and being hypersensitive. That’s something you need to deal with.
- No one can take your holiday away from you. Your holiday, if it has real meaning to you, cannot be wiped away just because it is not forced upon the public everywhere. Plenty of people of minority religions have been celebrating their highly religious holidays forever without needing every store and television station and radio station and neighbor to join in. If you think your holiday has less meaning just because it isn’t foisted upon the rest of the public, then again– this is something you need to deal with. You might want to re-examine the meaning of the holiday and put the expectations of making your celebration merry and bright on yourselves, rather than dumping that expectation of giving you a merry and bright holiday the way you want it on the rest of us. I’ve celebrated the Solstice for 25 years; while it’s lovely when my Pagan community can acknowledge it in public, I’ve never felt I needed anything outside of my own heart, my own mind, my own spirit or outside my own front door to ‘give’ me my holiday. If you do, then you are probably missing the point of your own. We can’t give it to you, or take it away from you. You have to find it within yourself.
- I don’t want to take your holiday away. I want you to have it, and enjoy it. My religion is not at war with yours. We believe you have the right– the responsibility, even– to follow your beliefs. All we’re asking for is the same courtesy.
So I do wish you, dear Christians, A Very Merry Christmas. And a Happy Holiday, to you and everyone else as well. It is the season of beautiful holidays, and I’m glad to live in a country in which we can all observe them, share them and express ourselves in whatever way we wish.