It’s that time of year again.  Well, it’s several “that time of year”s again, but I mean one in particular.  As witches, it is our 15 minutes of fame.  Suddenly, we’re everywhere.  We’re in movies, cartoons, the costume aisle at Target (what exactly is a Future Witch anyway?), and all sorts of mass media.  The History Channel starts running documentaries about everything from  the Salem Witch Trials to the rituals of the Knights Templar.  For a couple of weeks no one has any problems with us.  Now, I realize that’s a grave simplification, and there are still people who make their displeasure with the pagan community known, but for a short time every year we are a flamboyant commercial cliché.  In a few months we will see the same thing as Christians everywhere fight their own “Jesus is the reason for the season” battle, even going as far as the ever more popular image of Santa bowing over the baby in the manger.  This image alone is why I write on this particular topic, because it illustrated something poignant about holidays, the innate fact that they are both sacred and secular in nature does not have to be a negative thing.

There seems to be a belief that Jesus Christmas and Santa Christmas cannot coexist.  I believe that they can, and do, as two separate  pieces of a celebration.  In some ways the two have become two unique holidays, as some people celebrate one but not the other.  I don’t believe it is disrespectful, and I don’t ever believe a day that brings people together in a spirit of joy and hope is wrong.  Pagans have been doing it since before it was Christmas, calling it Yule, and we didn’t complain when new holidays with suspicious similarities started cropping up.

All snark aside, there is nothing wrong with secular celebration.  As little witches our kids learn to honor their ancestors on Samhain.  In time, they will learn the Wheel of the Year and what the sabbats mean.  They learn Samhain traditions and correspondences in the same way we know and celebrate them.  They learn to respect and revere the holiday as something sacred.  They also get to dress up in the costumes of their choice, go trick-or-treating, carve pumpkins, and all the other fun stuff that Halloween brings.  In that same vein, Santa will visit our house on Christmas, but we will have had our Yule fire.

It is also important to note that when the kids are older they will also know the history of the traditions for both sacred and secular holidays, as one is just as important as the other.  We must know about our history and how our cultures have evolved over time.  We must know how people of the past have celebrated and why to really appreciate the seasons now.  Yes, we add our modern touches, which are also important, as holidays must grow and evolve with us, but nothing can grow without roots.

There is nothing that says that celebrating a secular holiday takes anything away from the sacred holiday that generally accompanies it.  We are complex and beautiful creatures, and it is that multi-dimensional capacity that makes us unique.  While the sacred days bring us together in the spirit of faith, the secular days bring us together in the spirit of community no matter what our beliefs are.  The more fundamental reason for the season is joining in celebration, no matter what you call it.

So, yes, this weekend I will be partying in costume, handing out candy dressed as the most cliché witch I can muster (don’t judge me, the costumes are all in storage), and honouring my ancestors in both private and group ritual.  I will watch the same rerun documentaries on the history channel, and I will giggle every time they use the same outdated clip of some Samhain ritual from the 70s.  I will meet with friends and family of all beliefs and traditions, and we will find a few moments of joy and laughter in a time when there is so much negativity and uncertainty flowing about us.  This, my friends, is the reason for the season.  Well…this and giant bags of candy.

Go now….smell my feet, give me something good to eat…

Aloha

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