Parenting Pagan Children through the Silly Season

Or Cultural clash and other family calamities.

Most Pagan parents approach the Christmas season with trepidation knowing that because it is a cultural festival firmly entrenched into our society that the inevitable question will be asked of our child by the inquisitive stranger…."What will Santa be bringing you this year?"

Now what is worse for us as parents….. ? Our child's polite response "Santa who?", not so polite response "Did you know Christmas was originally a pagan holiday but the Christians stole it" or the phrase "we don't do Christmas" or "We don't believe in Santa" which brings on the disapproving stare like we are depriving our children by not celebrating Christmas.

But rest assure there is a way to manage this holiday season… it differs depending on where you live as if you reside in the Northern Hemisphere you can just celebrate Yule with all the overlapping traditions and skip the baby in a manger bit with it being so closely connected to Jesus. This method works best if children understand and can compartmentalise the different facets of Christmas and what each aspect of tradition truly means.

For those of us in the South though where Christmas occurs in the heat of summer and somehow store windows decorated with fake snow just look ridiculous and Santa wears a hot red suit that makes him sweat so his beard has a horrible odour related to broiling flesh Christmas gets a little tricky.

So here are a few pointers that I have found worked for me:

1. Accept that Christmas occurs, set boundaries within your own home to make it bearable that are fair on everyone. I ban carols until at least 20th Decemnber but by then they are in people's heads and hard to suppress. You can always use sites that substitute Pagan lyrics or have a wealth of Pagan Carols to replace those we are bombarded with in the wider community. Perhaps a spattering of Pagan Carols at home can undermine the wider social influence. I just remind my children that songs like "Deck the Halls" and the "Holly and the Ivy" are pagan anyway.

2. Embrace the socialness of the season and celebrate family. We have lunch at my mum's every year. This is because my parents are Catholic and they still celebrate the festival. Christmas has religious significance for them and so I have raised my children to appreciate their beliefs and not buy into the commercialism that Christmas exposes the young to great effect.

3. Fully inform your children about "The True meaning of Christmas" I was always clear about Christmas being the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus for Christians. Children can embrace the mythology of the nativity without buying into the dogma. Then you can balance that by discussing other myths and other births. Just the basic Wheel of the Year has the Goddess giving birth to the God at Yule. My daughter turns four this December and we watched the Christmas Pageant together. I decided to do this as she is becoming more socially savvy and I felt it was an opportunity to educate her subtly. Adelaide's Pageant is world renowned and quite big. If you look at it in context there are actually more floats with fairies and dragons and wizards and nursery rhymes than Christmas themes like Father Christmas. She had a blast and loved Nimble most of all.

4. Relax, it takes a few years to get into the swing of things and you might find it easier to adjust a little at a time. Start by celebrating the pagan festival (Yule or Winter Solstice in the North and Summer Solstice in the south) Say "Season's Greetings" instead of "Happy Christmas" to people. Be clear that there are many cultures in our world where they do not celebrate Christmas and some are Christian. Recognise that what happens in your family unit is your own business and you do not have to discuss it but do not feel like you have to hide it. In A lot of schools here they include other cultural festivals in the curriculum so children can learn about Ramadan and Hannukah and Yule as well as the origins of the traditions of Christmas.

5. Be clear about what is important to you and to your children. Balance that out with what is valued in your family and your community. Don't stress the small stuff. Implement changes gradually. Do not hide your beliefs and be open with your children. Cushion everything with the statements "Some people believe…. While others believe …." No one is right and no one is wrong. It is about balancing what is right for you and your children.

SO have an enjoyable Holiday Season whatever the weather and your locale. Be safe and be blessed. Above all else enjoy this time with you children and spend time with the ones you love. The season is about community and family and celebrating its resilience through the good times and the bad. Do something nice for someone and eat, drink and be merry. What more could anyone ask from as festival?!

Feast of the Fae Folk

Fairies and Pixies, elves and gnomes.
Spinning some magic,spells for our homes.
Their wishes are happy, of joys to share.
Join in their revelry, if only you dare.
Carefree of spirit, their happiness impart
Sending you Magick, to store in your heart.






A Yule Song

Deck the Halls (trad)

Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la la la la la la
Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la la la la la
Don we now our gay apparel
Fa la la la la la la la la
Troll the ancient Yuletide carols
Fa la la la la la la la la
See the blazing Yule before us
Fa la la la la la la la la
Strike the harp and join the chorus
Fa la la la la la la la la
Follow me in merry measure
Fa la la la la la la la la
While I tell of Yuletide treasure
Fa la la la la la la la la
Fast away the old year passes
Fa la la la la la la la la
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses
Fa la la la la la la la la
Sing we joyous all together
Fa la la la la la la la la
Heedless of the wind and weather
Fa la la la la la la la la

Non Alcoholic Mulled Wine for Yule

Heat 2litres of Grape Juice over low heat and add 2 cinnamon sticks, a teaspoon of cloves, ground cardoman and allspice and a little raw sugar to taste.

Serve in stone mugs of punch glasses being careful not to over heat it and burn guests.

For adult parties substitue grape juice with redwine.

Midsummer Incense

* 2 Parts Sandalwood
* 1 Part Camomile
* 1 Part Gardenia petals
* few drops Rose oil
* few drops Lavender oil
* few drops yarrow oil

Foods for the Summer Solstice are typically fresh vegetables and fresh fruits (esp. lemons and oranges), harvested herbs and edible flowers like Nastursiums, Summer squash, Asparagus and any yellow or orange colored foods. Honey, pumpernickel bread, barbecue fare, herbal teas, fruit juices, punches, sweet wines, ales & meads.


Some ideas for Midsummer

Watch Shakespeare's Play

Embrace stories about fairies

Make a big juicy fruit salad-Try peaches, mangoes, nectarines and grapes topped with passionfruit.

Have a picnic, go to the beach