The Tradition of Christmas

As I am a pagan myself I get asked from time to time about Christianity. Let me be clear, I respect other religions and I think Christians are fine people. But what about the notion that “Christians stole Christmas, they don’t even know when Christ was born”.

This is mostly true, at least the part about when Christ was born. It’s very unlikely he was not born on December 25. That said I have a very simple answer for my pagan friends who believe Christians stole “Yule Tide” and made it Christmas. It’s done, railing against the past means you never move forward. Or as one of my Christian friends explained to me once in a reply blog post:

“The traditional date of December 25 goes back as far as A.D. 273. Two pagan festivals honoring the sun were also celebrated on that day and it is possible that December 25 was chosen to counteract the influence of paganism. To this day some people feel uncomfortable with Christmas because they think it is somehow tainted by the pagan festivals held on that day. But Christians have long believed that the gospel not only transcends culture, it also transforms it. In A.D. 320 one theologian answered this criticism by noting, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.”

I’m pretty sure he/she copied that from somewhere else but I like the ending. Have a great holiday no matter what path your spirit travels and for my Christian friends, Merry Christmas!

What is Yule ?

Many of my readers know I am a pagan. Now like most people who practice religion I am not devout. Many of you go to church regularly, or the mosque but pagans like me not so much. Most of my beliefs are remnants of the past. Specifically, the ways in which our ancestors lived before monotheism religions. The fact is, peoples of all races and times have had gods. Its only recently that we have devoted ourselves to ONE god.

So, what is Yule? Yule is a period of time around the winter solstice. The name Yule is derived from the Old Norse HJOL, meaning ‘wheel,’ to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowest point, ready to rise again.

During this time the “Yule tide” is observed and celebrated which is where we get the “12 days of Christmas”. Christians when they spread their religion to northern Europe adopted several pagan customs to help ingratiate the populations into the new religion.

There is a great reference here This illustrates many of the similarities between yule and the Christmas season. From the site:

“Most of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of ”Christmas (such as the Yule log, Santa Claus & his Elves, Christmas trees, the Wreath, the eating of ham, holly, mistletoe, the star…) are derived from traditional northern European Heathen Yule celebrations. When the first Christian missionaries began trying to force the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it easier to invent a Christian version for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations to go on largely unchanged, rather than trying to suppress them. Halloween and Easter have been likewise assimilated from northern European Heathen religious festivals.”

There is so much more to expand on when it comes to Yule and ancient pagan practices. The Wreath, the Holy Tree, the Yule Log… on and on. Maybe this Christmas when you’re thinking about the season, harken back to your ancestors. I’m betting at least one of them, somewhere was celebrating Yule, dancing with their family and community, waiting for the long winter nights to slowly bring spring.

I hope you all enjoy this time of year and have some form of celebration in your life. No matter where you are from, your race, your gender, your sexual preference, your political affiliation I am glad you are here. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyful Yuletide.

Karac

Merry Christmas!

Hey folks, taking a day off today and sitting around with a few immediate family members. So nothing big, I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you. Whether you celebrate or not I hope you get a respite today and can relax.

Take care and enjoy!

Karac

What is Yule ?

Many of my readers know I am a pagan. Now like most people who practice religion I am not devout. Many of you go to church regularly, or the mosque but pagans like me not so much. Most of my beliefs are remnants of the past. Specifically, the ways in which our ancestors lived before monotheism religions. The fact is, peoples of all races and times have had gods. Its only recently that we have devoted ourselves to ONE god.

So, what is Yule? Yule is a period of time around the winter solstice. The name Yule is derived from the Old Norse HJOL, meaning ‘wheel,’ to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowest point, ready to rise again.

During this time the “Yule tide” is observed and celebrated which is where we get the “12 days of Christmas”. Christians when they spread their religion to northern Europe adopted several pagan customs to help ingratiate the populations into the new religion.

There is a great reference here This illustrates many of the similarities between yule and the Christmas season. From the site:

“Most of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of ”Christmas (such as the Yule log, Santa Claus & his Elves, Christmas trees, the Wreath, the eating of ham, holly, mistletoe, the star…) are derived from traditional northern European Heathen Yule celebrations. When the first Christian missionaries began trying to force the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it easier to invent a Christian version for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations to go on largely unchanged, rather than trying to suppress them. Halloween and Easter have been likewise assimilated from northern European Heathen religious festivals.”

There is so much more to expand on when it comes to Yule and ancient pagan practices. The Wreath, the Holy Tree, the Yule Log… on and on. Maybe this Christmas when you’re thinking about the season, harken back to your ancestors. I’m betting at least one of them, somewhere was celebrating Yule, dancing with their family and community, waiting for the long winter nights to slowly bring spring.

I hope you all enjoy this time of year and have some form of celebration in your life. No matter where you are from, your race, your gender, your sexual preference, your political affiliation I am glad you are here. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyful Yuletide.

Karac

Glogg

It’s time for Glogg!

For all of my Scandinavian readers (yes there are a few), my Norse enthusiasts and general pagans it’s that time! Around thanksgiving is when I create my first batch of Glogg for friends and family. This year we aren’t having many guests but I will still make it. Now this drink isn’t for everyone, it has a lot of booze lol but it is a traditional Scandinavian drink. Its origins are not precise but it goes back many, many years.

What is Glogg? Glogg is a hot spiced wine and liquor punch served in Scandinavian countries as a Christmas drink. It’s often served on St Lucia day 12/13 but has become most identified with the general “holiday season” So how do I make it? Below is a traditional Norwegian recipe that I have been using for years. I use Cognac, but you can use Vodka instead. Remember like any food or drink, the better quality of the ingredients the better the recipe turns out.

Drink and be Merry !

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom or nutmeg
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 large sliced cinnamon stick
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • ½ 750-ml bottle of Cognac
  • ½ cup of raisins (ROUGHLY)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds (ROUGHLY)

Directions:

Heat the red wine slowly in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Put the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and ginger in a spice bag (OPTIONAL, YOU CAN JUST PUT THEM IN) and add to the pot. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Let this get to a temperature of 175f. Then put in the Cognac, let it simmer for 5-10 min. This depends on the mixtures journey to 175, did it get very hot and you brought the temp down or did you bring the temp up slowly? When the Cognac was added how did the temp drop? This is really the only part of the recipe where you have to be mindful and pay attention to your creation.

After the simmer period (7 min approx.) remove from the heat, cover and let it steep for 1.5 hours. Strain the mixture of the non-liquid ingredients if you used a spice bag or cheese cloth remove it. Reheat slowly on a very low heat.  This is a mulled wine it is supposed to be served warm or hot but not scolding/boiling. Warm enough to see slight wisps of steam rising from the glass.

You can garnish your cups with cinnamon sticks if you like, or powder the top with cinnamon. There are many recipes for Glogg out there, some vanilla based, orange, you can really be creative here.

Happy Holidays!

Christmas decorations in August?

Do you celebrate Christmas? Well it might be time to start decorating because according to the article here people who decorate for Christmas early are happier.

From the article: “In a world full of stress and anxiety, people like to associate to things that make them happy, and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood,” psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told Unilad. “Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extends the excitement!” That seems logical enough.

If you start now, your place can look like this by Christmas 🙂

It’s a short article but a positive one so I wanted to cover it. The theory here is that decorating for Christmas engages pleasant memories of the past. I know in my area of the world at Christmas people put out lights and displays and it’s awesome. Every year my wife and I take a ride around the area and look for lights, it’s a lot of fun.

I think anything we can do that pushes us in the right direction as people with anxiety is a good thing. If decorating for Christmas brings about positive feelings and happiness why not? Normally we start decorating our house the first weekend in December but many people begin the day after thanksgiving (in the U.S.).

Of course for many people Christmas season is the kick off to a lot more stress and anxiety. Seasonal depression is real, when winter hits some are affected tremendously. You also have gift giving, family, work parties… The Christmas season can be extremely stressful for some people and this isn’t meant to dismiss that.

That said, Christmas tree’s, Lights, Santa Claus and of course for our religious friends the celebration of Christ. Those are all positive things and if decorating your world for Christmas makes you happy why not start a little earlier this year? Today, maybe not but maybe this coming holiday season you start a little earlier. It will be here before you know it!

Like this article and want to read more? Check out my blog post here.

Some interesting facts about Christmas

In no particular order, with no bias. Go ahead google em if you don’t believe me 😊

  • In North America, children put stockings out at Christmas time. Their Dutch counterparts use shoes.
  • When visiting Finland, Santa leaves his sleigh behind and rides on a goat named Ukko. Finnish folklore has it that Ukko is made of straw, but is strong enough to carry Santa Claus anyway.
  • Boxing Day was originally celebrated in England,for the servants to the rich people. After Christmas, the servants “boxed up” all the left-overs from the rich people and bring them home.
  • In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by one of the Wise Men’s camels. The gift-giving camel is said to have been the smallest one in the Wise Men’s caravan
  • The tradition of substituting X-mas for Christmas has its origins in the early Christian church. The first letter of Jesus Christ’s name is X in the Greek language.
  • St. Nicholas, the real person on whom Santa Claus is based, lived in the 4th century AD in the province of Lycia on the southwest coast of Asia Minor.
  • When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. 
  • Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 to 14 days after the 25th. This is because Western churches use the Gregorian Calendar, while Eastern Churches use the Julian Calendar.
  • When Christmas was cancelled: From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.
  • Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.
  • Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

Merry Christmas to all my Christian Friends and Happy Yule Tide Too !

Your Pagan Friend, Karac

What is Yule ?

Many of my readers know I am a pagan. Now like most people who practice religion I am not devout. Many of you go to church regularly, or the mosque but pagans like me not so much. Most of my beliefs are remnants of the past. Specifically, the ways in which our ancestors lived before monotheism religions. The fact is, peoples of all races and times have had gods. Its only recently that we have devoted ourselves to ONE god.

So, what is Yule? Yule is a period of time around the winter solstice. The name Yule is derived from the Old Norse HJOL, meaning ‘wheel,’ to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowest point, ready to rise again.

During this time the “Yule tide” is observed and celebrated which is where we get the “12 days of Christmas”. Christians when they spread their religion to northern Europe adopted several pagan customs to help ingratiate the populations into the new religion.

There is a great reference here This illustrates many of the similarities between yule and the Christmas season. From the site:

“Most of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of ”Christmas (such as the Yule log, Santa Claus & his Elves, Christmas trees, the Wreath, the eating of ham, holly, mistletoe, the star…) are derived from traditional northern European Heathen Yule celebrations. When the first Christian missionaries began trying to force the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it easier to invent a Christian version for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations to go on largely unchanged, rather than trying to suppress them. Halloween and Easter have been likewise assimilated from northern European Heathen religious festivals.”

There is so much more to expand on when it comes to Yule and ancient pagan practices. The Wreath, the Holy Tree, the Yule Log… on and on. Maybe this Christmas when you’re thinking about the season, harken back to your ancestors. I’m betting at least one of them, somewhere was celebrating Yule, dancing with their family and community, waiting for the long winter nights to slowly bring spring.

I hope you all enjoy this time of year and have some form of celebration in your life. No matter where you are from, your race, your gender, your sexual preference, your political affiliation I am glad you are here. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a joyful Yuletide.

Karac