Can you be pagan and celebrate Christmas with your kids?

September 15 2009 | Guest post by Tanya Brady
Source: theviolethours.typepad.com via Offbeat Home on Pinterest
"Come on Mum!! Santa's grotto! Quick!!"

Christmas 2008 and two eager hands are tugging on my jumper. It's my 5 year old son Luke's school Christmas Fayre. All around there are tinsel and toys to buy, tombola's, excited children queueing up to see Santa. And I'm looking around me at all of this, a mixture of feelings pulling at me.

On the one hand, I love all this. I love cheesy Christmas songs, I love fairy lights, I love my kids pulling on their gloves and hats and running out at the 1st sign of snowflakes, looking for mistletoe and holly.

On the other hand, I am Pagan, and more specifically, Wiccan. I feel hypocritical at the school Nativity play, my darling boy singing beautifully (and he does!), but taking gifts to Jesus.

Now, as a Wiccan, I am totally accepting and understanding of other faiths. I don't laugh at Christians and say that Jesus isn't real. But what should I do at Christmas? I celebrate Yule, but how can I deny my sons Christmas after all the build up? Same goes for Easter. I celebrate Ostara.

I really do not like the commercialism now attached to Christian festivals, but can you imagine my poor boys' faces if they get no Easter Eggs, but they get to paint hardboiled eggs a few days earlier??!! Halloween…trick or treating? It's just so crass to me, but, they love it. Dressing up as witches? Argghhhh!!!

Samhain is a very special day for me, Pagan New Year, but I love to dress my kids up in Dracula outfits and see them running around scaring each other!

So, my solution? I take it with a pinch of salt (and various other Witchy herbs!). I don't sweat it. I teach my sons about our festivals, and know that his school teaches him Christian.

Actually, they teach him many different faiths. Luke can probably tell you all of the different festivals for different faiths! I chill out and let life take it's course. One day, they will choose for themselves.

Oh, and we get to have double the amount of festivities, so I guess it's all win – win!!

  1. That sounds exactly what we do too! Last year, we opened presents on the Winter solstice one day, then went to their grandparents house on Christmas and they opened presents there. it's the best of both.

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  2. As a pagan who married into an Uber Lutheran family, my bonus kids (aka step kids) are very Christian festival oriented, and I'm …. uh …. not. I have to balance my truths and beliefs with their need to be kids and have consistency. So for now, that end of the family knows me as the Jewish one. Yeah, I copped out and claimed a root religion from my family's past just to keep the peace. I feel like I'm cheating, but have to maintain a front to make sure the kids are okay. *sigh* it is such a balancing act, isn't it?

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  3. I have found that we allow our kids to celebrate the christian holidays until they are too old and learn the "truth" about santa and the easter bunny. They celebrate the pagan sabbats as well. Once they are both older we will decorate the Yule tree with items we make for the dream time. We will celelbrate Ostara with the eggs that decorate and fun spring foods. When it comes to Samhain. Our coven generally celebrates within the astrological Samhain so that we with children can do the "Halloween" thing. I don't mind them dressing up as witches (my 7 year old was one of the most beautiful witches in her ritual robe and cape that she has.) I am proud of my religion and my beliefs, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate with everyone else. If my kids ask, I will tell them what Christmas and Easter are. But since I usually get them confused anyways, they will probably have it wrong. lol

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    • As a Wiccan one of my favorite things about Halloween when I was working for the school system and in retail was dressing up as a "witch".

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  4. It's nice to see that I'm not alone. Not only am I pagan, my kids attend private school…Catholic private school. I made this decision so they could receive a good education. Even though the school's teachings are not aligned with my beliefs, I feel like they are going to learn a good values system from this experience – something that is often left out in the public schools.

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    • Thank you for being so open minded. I'm a Christian (LDS to be exact), and grew up in a mostly Southern Baptist town. I came to a liberal college to get away from close minded bigots… only to find that open mindedness did NOT extend to include Christians at my college.

      You are one of the few people I have seen now, who has a belief system other than Christianity, and had anything nice to say about Christianity (good values system). πŸ™‚

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  5. Sounds like you've found a fantastic compromise! I envy those pagans with kids in the Northern Hemisphere – here in Australia, its so hard when you have to explain that yes, they're all celebrating rebirth and new beginnings when we've all done it 6 months earlier!

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  6. How re-affirming to read your article Tanya! I'm pagan but have yet to figure out how to celebrate the turning of the wheel and the other commercial holidays. THIS so helped as did all the comments…so I'm off to finally decide what this year will look like for us.

    Blessings and Light,
    WRO

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  7. I am about to run into the same dillemma in a few years after I have my baby. My husband is southern Baptist, and I am a Pagan Deist. He just wants to not talk about religion at all, but we are going to have to figure out a good balance for the holidays. Sounds like you have a great way of doing it!

    Blessings-
    Kassi

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  8. I find this hilarious as the child of christian parents who didn't celebrate christmas because it had pagan roots ! Christmas and easter were started as replacers for various pagan festivals, e.g roman religious ones and celtic fertility springtime ones, and were made law in roman times forcing pagans to replace their festivals with "christianized' versions. (which FAIL anyway, the best festivals for christians to practice are thsoe that are in the bible. commonly known as jewish ones). I could go on, but basically christmas and easter were examples of forced conversion, anti semetism and political correctness. Not something I wanna be messed up in.
    ANYWHO. but as far as not celebrating christmas as a kid, I didn't care. Neither did my sister. We never missed it. All our friends did practice, and we honestly could not care less. So parents don't worry too much about your kids, they are a lot more adaptable than you think!

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  9. As a pagan mom, I agree with the last comment…all these Christian traditions have pagan roots, and lots of them. So, personally I'm not very bothered about doing Christmas- and Easter-like traditions (tree, gifts, candy baskets, etc) if my kids are into it, although I'm more inclined to do it on the pagan calendar dates and without the church services, of course. I guess it's not a big deal for me because I don't think we'd be doing Santa and the Easter bunny even if we weren't pagan, and this kinda seems like an easy way to sidestep those issues…by saying, for example, that we don't have those particular traditions because we don't celebrate those specific holidays. You never know for sure, but I'm hoping and assuming they won't care who the treats are coming from, as long as they're coming.

    And personally, I can't get enough of Halloween…there's a popular pagan holiday that's changed over the years, sure, but really keeps a lot of its initial spirit, IMO.

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  10. As a pagan mama myself, I have always chosen to celebrate Christmas/Easter/Halloween/etc. as cultural holidays rather than religious ones, and I have done so side-by-side with the holidays which correspond with my religious beliefs.

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    • This is how my family did it growing up. My family isn't religious but we still looked forward to presents from Santa and baskets from the Easter Bunny. These days they're just as much cultural holidays as they are religious. Now you can choose which side you want πŸ™‚

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  11. This is something so oddly fitting for my husband and myself. He's an Atheist and I'm… well, I've studied Paganism along with many other of the world's religions, and although I suppose I mainly lead towards Atheism in that I don't feel there's a Supreme Being guiding our lives, I DO feel that everything is connected in some way, and that people tap in to this through their chosen spiritual paths.

    While I know I'm going to teach my children about the origins of all the "major" holidays, and teach them to respect where they came from and what they represent, I'm sure we'll celebrate Christmas, Easter, and Halloween like any other "American" family, since, like others have said, these days the holidays are so secular that it's easy enough to separate them from religion and enjoy eachother's company and traditions. Of course we're going to exchange presents at Christmas and go to "Babcia's" house (Polish=Grandma) for blessed polish sausage, ham, and eggs at Easter and my kids are going to understand why, but we're also going to celebrate other holidays as well. πŸ™‚ Lets face it, holidays are fun, why not have more excuses to get together and start family traditions??

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  12. I think you'll relate to this awesome Christmas song from my favourite comedian Tim Minchin (he's absolutely brilliant):

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  13. I celebrated "Christian" holidays, because most of them are so commercialized by now that it never mattered. I did, however, grow up with more religion pushed on me in public school than I would like put onto my child. It isn't that I'm intolerant – I would have no problem with my son learning about ALL religions, but to put emphasis on just one group's beliefs feels like a slap in the face to me, and a bit ironic considering that "freedom of religion" is cited as a reason for our country's existence.

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  14. i'm not a mama myself, just an auntie, but i think it's great to teach kids about all the different religions and let them decide what makes sense to them when they're old enough. on the subject of pagan activities for kids, as well as discussion on making peace with the more christian and cultural crazes around easter, halloween, christmas, etc there is a fabulous book called "celebrating the great mother" that is entirely about this and has great ideas for kids of all ages. i flip through this as ideas for the grown ups too and it's always at least inspired me.

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  15. for a long time we celebrated the "christian" holidays in a secular sort of way. put up a tree and gave gifts on x-mas, had an egg hunt on easter. but i consider myself more of an agnostic pagan. so last year we started celebrating on the solstice and we will again this year. we still put up a tree, but now we exchange gifts on the solstice and then have our friends over for a feast. we've never done santa so the kids don't miss it. we still go see my husbands family on x-mas day to exchange gifts with them though. this year though we have started attending a unitarian universalist church, so i feel like we fit in nicely there since we don't adhere to any particular faith.

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  16. Thanks for sharing this. I am already conflicted about how to raise my son religiously. He was baptized Catholic as is custom for our family, and I felt terrible repeating words I didn't believe. He's not even two yet, so I have a few years to practice standing my ground before my family gets on my case… On the other hand, I don't want my son to feel left out during holidays. It's a lot to think about, and stories like yours are reassuring.

  17. My husband and I are atheists, but were both raised Christian/Catholic. While we don't follow the religious connotations of traditionally Christian holidays, we couldn't bare the thought of not having a Christmas tree or caroling. We plan to teach our children that Christmas is about giving and togetherness and Easter.. well, it's for candy.

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  18. Love this post! I love that you can take it with that grain of salt, and enjoy the season and still celebrate in your own spiritual and awesomely-fun way. πŸ˜€

    I know I'm putting my Bad Catholic Hat on here, but there's so much awesome that takes place during this season — the giving and the family gatherings and the feasts — than to just narrow it down to one kind of celebration.

  19. I am Wiccan, but, with the exception of my father (also wiccan), my whole family is Catholic. I explain the meaning behind the Christian holidays to my children (12, 8 and 3), celebrate Wiccan holidays with them, and do the Christmas/Easter family dinnners with everyone. We actually do gifts on Christmas day instead of Yule because they typically have school, and we celebrate it as a cultural holiday. When my kids are older (my youngest 2, my oldest son is atheist), I would like to take them to services to be exposed to other religions. We have an interfaith council where I live, and it's very open.

  20. My husband and I are atheists but we still celebrate xmas/yule for the kids – they love Santa and the "yule" tree as I call it… and we just have fun with it. We avoid the religious content, but play up the celebration of family, friends and gratitude. We talk to the kids about the pre-christian roots of the tree and other symbols, and when they start questioning the religious aspects that they see other people displaying, like nativity scenes or religious songs, I plan to answer them as objectively as possible about how other people have religious beliefs… and make it a learning experience.

  21. I'm a Christian and actually most Christians aren't even aware that Christmas means Christ's death, not birth. And was originally the birthday of Tamuuz, so when Christians celebrate Christmas they're actually celebrating the birth of Tamuuz on Dec. 25th. The Roman Catholic Church hijacked this holiday to make "conversion for pagans eadier. I don't Celebrate Christmas or Easter which is another pagan holiday.

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