Yule is drawing near, and if you’re new to the craft or pagan traditions, you may be confused on one particular topic: whether or not to still celebrate the traditionally Christian holiday, Christmas.
Yule has always had pagan origins, as does the Christmas tree. While scholars are not quite sure who started celebrating Yule specifically, it seems cultures and pagans across northern locations always had a holiday dedicated to the shortest day of the year, involving some form of “gift giving” – though sometimes that meant animal sacrifice – or lighting of candles. And when it comes to the Christmas tree, scholars have discovered it was originally intended for secular purposes.
To help ease more pagans and convert them to Christians, the church decided to move Christmas to around the winter solstice and Yule, and carried over a few traditions with it. In Christianity, this time celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Emmanuel – and yes, that’s a lot of names for one person!
Over time though, it seems Christmas has almost become a secular holiday itself. Many millennials and younger youth see Christmas as a sort of capitalist holiday, with an emphasis of selling product, special holiday collections for limited edition items, and so on. It’s also all about the decorations, cookies and treats, and telling children Santa will bring them lots of goodies, as long as they behave.
In my personal experience, I find that because of the more…capitalist tones of Christmas these days, lots of Pagans celebrate Yule and Christmas.
On Yule, they may do more private rituals and magickal workings, or more intense meditations. Then on Christmas, they take the time to celebrate with their families, and participate in gift giving, and usually the big Yule feast.
Personally, when my parents pray to God before the feast, I simple pray to the universe instead in my own head.
But, if you don’t want to celebrate one or the other, you don’t have to! You’re not obligated to only celebrate Yule, and you’re no less of a witch or pagan if you choose to celebrate Christmas instead! As always, it’s up to personal preference.