Now that Christmas is fast approaching and the year has once more come full circle, most of us will soon be busy adorning the house with brightly coloured decorations, a Christmas tree and all the other paraphernalia that goes to create a festive atmosphere. Holly and mistletoe will almost certainly be included in our decorations as evergreens have been used in the winter festivities from very ancient times and definitely long before Christianity appeared on the scene. What Christians celebrate as the birthday of Christ is really something that was superimposed on to a much earlier pagan festival–that which celebrated the Winter Solstice or the time when the Sun reaches its lowest point south and is reborn at the beginning of a new cycle of seasons. In Northern Europe and Scandinavia it was noted by the early Christian scholar, Bede, that the heathens began the year on December 25th which they called Mother’s Night in honour of the great Earth Mother. Their celebrations were held in order to ensure fertility and abundance during the coming year, and these included much feasting, burning of lamps, lighting of great fires (the Yule fires) and exchanges of gifts. The Romans, too, held their great celebrations–Saturnalia– from December 17th to 25th and it was the latter date which they honoured as the birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The Saturnalia was characterised by much merry-making, sometimes going to riotous extremes, with masters and slaves temporarily exchanging roles. The use of evergreens to decorate the streets and houses was also very
Tag Archive for Holidays
Christmas is a weird time for pagans we all know that the date of birth of Jesus was sometime in the early spring and that Christmas day was moved to coincide with the winter solstice. The problem is Christmas is a big festival and many pagans where not born in to pagan families so still have a strong connection to Christmas day and what make it even harder is Christmas and Yule have the same symbolisation. So what does a good pagan do? Do you celebrate Christmas or are you militant and refuse to have anything to do with that Christian Festival! As a child Christmas was easy the 25th December went woke up present on bed, woke parent at silly oclock, visit Nan and granddad then other Nan and granddad would arrive around 12 give more presents, table would be in living room ready for lunch, during lunch a row would break out and the rest of the day was spent in silence and evening we played games. When I moved out at 16 and started my own life I could express my pagan path I refused to attend Christmas functions with family and friends or insured that I would work on Christmas day it was always easy to find someone to swap a shift. Christmas lost it appeal as a fun time it was a commercial event spend spend that all it was. It was in my mid 20s when I was chatting with a friend who mentioned that her 5-year son had
The element of fire has always paid a large part in pagan ritual so it is not uncommon to find bonfires in pagan history. But the Yule log is a strange tradition goes as far back as Egypt 5000 BC were logs where burnt in death rituals and to honour Horus, their sun god. There is no definitive tradition or history to say when and where it comes from and some even say that the Yule log had no religious significance, and was instead simply a festive decoration with practical uses. In the UK there was no account of any folk tradition using a log as special significance until around the 17th century giving rise to the idea that the Yule log was and import from Europe. Historical it is believed that the Yule log origins lie in Germanic or Norse Paganism (pre Christianity) The Yule log was a whole tree original which was selected for it size and to insure warmth and comfort. In Europe some traditions place the large log in the hearth with the rest of the tree pointing in to the room. Over the years the Yule log has been reduced in size from a tree to an average size log. The Yule log morphed into a Christian tradition and became associated with the 12 days of Christmas. The tradition of the Yule log virtually died out during the 20th century but was replaced with the Būche de Noėl a chocolate covered Swiss roll decorated to look like a log. Yule Log Traditions.
As the wheel keeps turn we move towards the vernal equinox the point where day and night are equal (give or take) and our thought turn to planting new crops for the on coming harvests. ?ostre or Ostara is as the Venerable Bede said the origin of the word is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring. Eostre is a very obscure Goddess, and uniquely Anglo-Saxon Heathen. She is not mentioned at all in the Norse corpus, and there are only fleetingly in the Old English by Bede in De Temporum Rationale. Some scholars have even conjectured that she may not have even been a goddess but rather just the Germanic name for the celebration that took place around the time of Vernal equinox. It is must also be noted that Typically, the Celtic peoples did not celebrate Ostara as a holiday, although they were in tune with the changing of the seasons. It can be assured well as much as it can be, Eostre is Teutonic in its origin as Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility was known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos.” Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: “eastre.” Since we know that the wheel of the year is made up and cobbled together by Gardener I am sure sometime with a bit of humour. I feel that Gardener Choose to call vernal equinox ?ostre or Ostara, as it is very similar to Easter and in some way claiming a Christian