I hear people using “Christmas”, “Yule”, “Happy Holidays”, and other terms to refer to this holiday season. I’m Heathen, so, obviously, I prefer Yule. Most of my family (parents, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, ect) are all Christian, so they celebrate Christmas. I know Atheists that still celebrate Christmas, and it’s their favorite time of the year. Yes, as an atheist, they still celebrate “Christmas”. Sounds odd? Not really. It’s just a name for a period of time that is celebrated by many people in many cultures that are similar, but different.
As a Heathen, I know the difference between some of the holidays, but not most.. I’m comfortable not knowing them all because I don’t celebrate them all. I don’t know anyone that practices any one of many of them. Most of the people I know are Christian or Heathen. This means that everyone I know celebrates either Christmas or Yule. I could go into the practices of Yule, and similarities between Yule and Christmas, and the differences, but that’s for another time, maybe. Everyone has their practices and traditions. I’m not here to convince anyone to do this or that. I’m jus
Because most of my family is Christian, and they celebrate Christmas, I celebrate Christmas, too. As a Heathen, I know that sounds strange to most other Heathens that I know. I don’t acknowledge the birth of their messiah. I don’t acknowledge the Jewish connection that Christianity has. I don’t worship or praise their god. But, since this time of year has many holidays that are right around the same time, it doesn’t bother me to say “Merry Christmas” to those in my family. Christmas is a tradition for my family for at least several hundred years. This is my family, descendents of the same ancestors as me. As a Heathen, family is very important. If most of my family celebrates Christmas but not Yule, I participate in their Christmas celebrations. I don’t attend their church, but I do gather with the family and participate in activities with them, gift giving and feasting and fellowship.
When I gather with my family, I am usually drawn into discussions with my cousins and aunts, which end up in religion and politics. I have been able to introduce truths and history into the discussions, and they have acknowledged some of the borrowed traditions by the Christians into Christmas from the Heathens and Yule. I can’t make them change their practices, but they have at least seen some of the truths. They have their traditions, and that’s fine. Traditions are created and ended all the time, and that’s the way it always has been.
I know many Heathens and Pagans that are really “up in your face” about their faith. Some of these are zealots without realizing it. Some of them are just as forward as Christians are about their beliefs. I have my beliefs and I’m happy with them. I have nothing to prove to anyone, so I don’t get confrontational about it. The easiest way to introduce Yule and the real practices of this time of year is to approach it without coming across as trying to end or destroy Christmas. It creates friction, and “introducing” history and concepts means that they are more likely to accept without reaction.
So, for me, what is best to say this season? “Happy Holidays” covers all your bases. “Happy Yule” goes out to all the Heathens and Pagans. And, I will continue to wish my family that is still Christian a “Merry Christmas”. I really don’t have to worry too much outside of those because I don’t know anyone that practices the others.