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Holiday Celebration vs Commercialism vs Christian Popularity

Every week I tend to meet up with a small group of Pagans.  These Pagans range in age, gender, career, experience, and paths within Paganism.

Tonight we we discussing the different Pagan holidays.  I found it particularly interesting to ask each person:

What do you do to celebrate this holiday?

What do you associate with this holiday?

If you don’t celebrate this holiday why not?

 

As we (the whole group) went holiday by holiday I found it interesting that a large majority of people (myself included at times)  celebrated a few “main” holidays.

Those holidays were:

Ostara

Beltane

Samhain

Yule

 

I started to draw some interesting lines between things.  All of these holidays fall in/around/near a Christian holiday OR a commercial holiday.

Ostara.  Easter.

Beltane. Memorial Day.  May Day (in some places)

Samhain.  Halloween (widely accepted holiday even with Christians)

Yule.  Christmas.

I asked the question:

Do you think perhaps we celebrate (we meaning the individuals in the group) simply because of familiarity with the Christian counter-part holiday?  

Do you think we concentrate on these holidays because of the commercial appeal and overall ‘acceptance’ during this holiday?

Another point was raised that there are basically 4 celestial holidays.  These holidays are based on a solstice or equinox.  The other holidays are harvest holidays.  These are based on harvest times of different crops.

One group member brought up the point that since we are no longer farmers/gatherers we don’t have the same connection with the land as we once did.  Now that we’ve got supermarkets and can get any variety of fruit and vegetables all year round we have little working knowledge of harvest type holidays.

Is this a good or a bad thing?  To bring proper balance should we observe each holiday’s counterpart?

These are all just thoughts/ideas I’m sharing.  Feel free to chime in!

 

The answers were really interesting.  I’ve been Pagan for the better part of 15 years.  Perhaps even a few more, but I only consider myself a 15 year practitioner because I was still really super clueless during those first few years.  During all my time as a Pagan I have also chosen some holidays which are ‘high’ holidays and some which aren’t.

After hearing everyone else’s feedback I then started to analyze my own observance of the holidays.

Did I not celebrate the others simply because of no personal connection – or – was I not celebrating simply because it was too much work?

I now bring the question here, to those who read this.

Are there holidays you don’t celebrate?  Do you abstain simply because you don’t feel a connection to that holiday or is there another reason?

Today’s Song

 

“Imbolc” is the 3rd track of Lisa Thiel’s CD “Circle of the Seasons”.

Lisa Thiel’s homepage is http://www.sacreddream.com/home/

Imbolc

Many of you know that Imbolc (pronounced EM-bulk)  is just around the corner!

What is Imbolc?  Well, it is one of the 8 Sabbats.  Its also sometimes called Candlemas.  Think of it as the Spring starting to kick within the womb of Earth.  It is a time to celebrate the lengthening of the days.

There are many traditional stories about Imbolc/Candlemas.  Groundhog Day is a spin on an ancient Celtic tradition where they thought if the weather was nasty – the hag stayed inside and gathered no more wood for the winter (meaning Spring will come sooner).  If the weather is lovely – then the hag is out gathering wood and Winter will last a bit longer.  This is of course the Laymen’s Terms.  I tend to just give the basic idea so as not to drone on and on (I do that sometimes.)

This is the time of year (first couple weeks of February) that the ewes give birth en masse.  In England they called it “Lambing Season”.

Here is a list of things associated with Imbolc/Candlemas

 

Activities Usually done at Imbolc/Candlemas

  • Light a candle in every window (never leave candles unattended! Just light one in the room you’re in)
  • Hiking and searching for signs of Spring
  • Making Priapic Wands (wand made out of an acorn, ribbons, a stick, and a bell. Its meant to be phallic to represent fertility. Instructions to make one is below*)
  • Feasting
  • Bon Fires

(some) Deities associated with Imbolc:

  • All Virgins/Maiden Goddesses
  •  Brighid
  • Athena
  • Gaia
  • Gods of Love and Fertility (such as Eros)

 

Symbols of Imbolc/Candlemas:

  • Purity
  • Growth
  • Re-Newal
  • Fertility
  • ‘Out with the old – In with the new’ 

 

Herbs associated with Imbolc

  • Angelica
  • Basil
  • Bay
  • Blackberry
  • Coltsfoot
  • Iris
  • Myrrh 

Stones/Gems of Imbolc

  • Amethyst
  • Bloodstone
  • Garnet
  • Ruby
  • Onyx
  • Turquoise 
*And if you’re interested .. here’s how to make a priapic wand:
You will need —-
An acorn
A stick
Glue (hot glue works best)
Ribbon (any color you want!)
Bells (the small jingly kind)
Glue the acorn to one end of the stick.
However many bells you are using – leave that many strands of ribbon hanging free
Wrap the rest of the ribbon on your stick however you like!
Attach the bells
Go outside and wave your fertility wand about.  Find new growth and make a fertility tornado/cyclone around it.  The bells help wake the sleeping earth after its Winter hibernation.
This is a great activity to do with children in particular – but its fun for adults too!

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