For many of us on this planet, this time of year means some kind of celebration. And with that has come a flurry of questions in Pagan social media sites and groups and pages: If I am “X”, can I celebrate “Y”? Most prominently: as a Pagan, can I celebrate Christmas?
Heated discussions follow such questions, bashing this and the other faith, often far from the point originally asked.
Seems, though, the actual question would be more like ‘Can I go to a celebration of “X” faith without actually celebrating that faith’s festivity?’ For example, ‘Is it ok for me to participate in my family’s Christmas celebration?’ Of course it is! There is nothing to be said to participate in celebrations of other faiths. Just going there and enjoying yourself does not un-pagan, in-Druid or un-whatever you.
Participation as in being there, laughing, crying, chatting, and feasting with others, mind you. Not the kind of participation where one would throw their own faith overboard and suddenly, say celebrate the birth of a specific deity. But I don’t think anyone is actually suggesting that.
There is a line between these two types of participation, and I don’t even think it’s a fine line. It’s thick and red and you can’t miss it.
Insofar, it becomes irrelevant who stole what from whom – a constant in the discussions around this topic. In fact, it becomes even irrelevant what the name of the party is that you are invited to. When you, as a Pagan, attend gathering the is called a lChristmas Party” on the invitation, everyone can still celebrate their own, yet sit together and share laughter and food. For example, when Christians recite their most important prayer, I recite the Druid prayer. When they hug and wish each other “Merry Christmas” I respond with anything from ‘May the Gods bless you in this darkest time of year’ to a simple ‘Blessed be’.
So, I would offer the thought here to not ask whether you can attend another faith’s festivity, but rather ‘What do I want to celebrate?” That may be Yule, Alban Arthuan, the Winter Solstice, or whatever name your specific path has dedicated to the festivity. You choose. With that choice in mind, you can go to any celebration – even one that is called “Christmas” – and enjoy the hell out of it.
In this sense: go out there, feel deeply rooted in your faith, and celebrate away!
The writer is also the author of the book “Mountain Magic – Celtic Shamanism in the Austrian Alps” on how to weave Alpine lore and customs into your own spiritual practice.