Monday, October 11, 2010

Celebrating the Holidays? Why?

  The major holiday season is coming up, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. More money is spent this time of year than any other. As we were walking thru Walmart the other day, being over run with decorations from all three of these holidays I ask my husband why we as a family celebrate them (mainly christmas).
  Halloween we celebrate only we interchange the name of Samhain(sah-win). I think there is some (a lot) confusion with different religious groups on just what Samhain is and how it is celebrated.  Samhain/November Eve/Hallows Eve/Halloween - October 31st
1. Celtic New Year. Feast of the Dead. The dead crossed over the veil into the afterlife. This is belief that the dead linger until the veils between the world thin between the new and old year. At this time of year many Pagan or Wiccan groups hold ritual to assist and guide in the Crossing of these persons from one world to the next.  2. Ancestors day. Revere family members and dress in their costume. On a very similar note, many practicing Witches may be found dressed up in a costume representing one of their ancestors. 3. The last of the three harvest festivals. Final harvest. Here was a time to store foods, to prepare for the coming Winter. There was less celebration in this activity, as people took stock of their situation and began to assess whether or not they could last through the Winter to come.This is a really good description of the holiday that I found at There is no devil celebrated, no evil one.Pagans do not believe in this myth!  To me it is another Memorial day, celebrating the ones who have passed, putting up an alter filled with things that remind you of that person(s). I feel that because Christians couldn't really control this holiday they tried to make it something evil. Around here the churches have trunk or treat or parties where the kids dress up as bible characters. Trying to keep them from the devil I guess.
  We do celebrate Thanksgiving as a wonderful time to share a meal with friends and family.Originally Thanksgiving Day was a harvest festival celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. While perhaps religious in origin, Thanksgiving is now primarily identified as a secular holiday. How different is this celebration from Lammas/Lughnasad, Mabon, or Samhain which are also harvest holidays?
   We do celebrate Christmas as another way to give thanks for family, friends and all that we have in our lives and according to my kids for the presents.  For a religious celebration for this time of year we celebrate Yule. Yule - December 20th-23rd  1. Return of the Sun God. As the solstice approaches, the return of Spring and Nature's bounty cannot be too far off. It is difficult to belief that earlier people's were uncertain about continued cycles, but there was not the scientific basis we have today. This was the height of Mid-Winter, and it was evident that there would be sufficient food, or that they would have to do with less until the Spring brought hunting and agriculture.
2. The longest night was also a mystical event. There is a strong tradition for staying awake all through Solstice night and holding vigil that the dawn might arrive. These can be powerful rituals. This was a time when the Goddess Hecate was considered strong, and her magickal world controlled the lives of those caught in heavy winter, and putting all their hopes and energies into surviving until the next season. Deaths were common, and the Lord of the Underworld was seen as real and near. No the Lord of the Underworld is not the devil!
    There are other holidays sprinkled throughout the year and one that recently came up in discussion was Columbus Day.  Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in 1937. However, people have celebrated Columbus' voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary, in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress. There are 3 states that do not celebrate this day, Hawaii, Nevada and South Dakota. Hawaii celebrates Discover's Day, South Dakota has Native American Day and Nevada just doesn't at all. The City of Berkley Ca. has replaced Columbus day with Indigenous People"s Day with other cities following. I really like this one, we might work on that.
   How and why do you celebrate holidays? Do you celebrate for religious reasons, as just another day off, to be with friends and family?  Does your family or community have yearly celebrations that are important to you? Why do we celebrate the National holidays? Do we actually know who or what we are celebrating other that what we are taught in school? I want my kids to really look at what and why they are celebrating a holiday that someone else has deemed important. Does it fit in with our beliefs as a family, as an individual? Why is this time of year or this person so important that we give our time and money to the celebration?
                       What do you celebrate to turn the Wheel of the year?

1 comment:

Jessica said...

It's nice to see a discussion of this, as well as an investigation into what you are doing and why.
We celebrate the pagan Wheel of the Year and its 8 holidays as a way of honoring the cycles of the Earth and Sun, coming closer to each other as a family, and to access the mystical energy that is potent at each of these natural events. We also celebrate them as a way of creating family traditions that will be exclusive to only our family. We all have memories of the things we did as children at the holidays and the pleasant ones add meaning and power to the bonds we built with our family. That is what I hope to create for my children.