Too many jerks out there spazzing out about my questions about the pagan traditions being the root of Christmas, so rewording this for all of those high strung rude people. I’d like to teach my children the true history and traditions of Paganism, not about Xmas and the confused stories about Christ’s…
I didn’t quite get through all the answers so I’m sorry if this turns out to be a duplicate. I don’t know a lot about various pagan religions but I’m familiar with Wicca and there is a great website I’ve been reading since I was 14 (5 years):
The author is a historian (i.e., she actually checks her facts *gasp*) and the site is organised really well. It’s a great starting point and she has links to other sites and organisations that should take you pretty far concerning the history and adaptation of earlier holidays.
There are a variety of cultures that had a winter solstice celebration, and aspects of all of these have been incorporated into the modern celebration of the Christian holiday. Most notably, the Romans, the Celts, and the Norse were some of the biggest contributors, though Mithrasism and Zoroastrianism helped the theological aspects along a bit…
The Roman celebration was called Saturnalia, and tended to be a week long orgy and feast. Most of it’s aspects aren’t considered “PG-13″… much less “G” rated… but one of the more important days was the Celebration of Children, when kids were given special foods, sweets, and toys, and everyone spent some time celebrating their youth, and the awesome aspect of how life keeps going. This tradition has carried over rather obviously in the gifts given to kids, and friends and family, in modern celebration of the time.
The Norse people celebrated Yule, and many of their traditions were carried over wholesale to modern times. The tree with lights is a modified version of the still, though rarely, kept practice of burning a Yule Log. Setting lights around the house, especially in windows, though nowadays lights come on such handy strings for mass hanging they go everywhere, is a Norse custom that shows the house is open to any travelers that may be caught in the open during the dangers of the winter months. Also, much of the traditional music “O Tannenbaum” “Good King Wenceslaus” and other carols, come from the Norse and Germanic traditions. Santa Clause has roots that go back much farther than St. Nicholas of Tyre… Connections between him, and Wotan (usually called Odin nowadays), who also used to go around visiting houses dispensing gifts, are rather obvious… though Santa tends to blend aspects commonly attributed to Wotan and Thor (the sleigh and 8 tiny reindeer have replaced a Chariot and 2 awesome goats)
The Celts are responsible for the traditions surrounding Mistletoe. Modern traditions insist that anyone caught beneath a sprig of mistletoe must share a kiss. The Celts thought the plant was holy, so any time people met near a place where mistletoe grew wild, they had to treat each other with respect and hospitality, sharing food, drink, and medicine, even if the person they met had been their life long enemy. As long as the people shared the same space as the mistletoe, it didn’t matter who had killed who’s father… or whom had stolen who’s cattle… there was peace.
(I typed this out for your last question, only to be surprised when I submitted it and found the question deleted.)
Which pagans do you want to teach your children about, and which tradition? For example, do you want to teach your children about the Celts or the ancient Greek religion?
It’s a problem for you because there were so many different pagan religions and their practices are, for the most part, lost in history because they weren’t written down. That’s the inherent problem in neo-paganism today. You’d like to think you have a connection to ancient pagans, but the truth is no one really knows what most of them believed exactly, or how they practiced their religion.
And how do you know that the stories of Christ’s birth “aren’t even true?”
actually just me, i havent experienced much pagan hate here at all, maybe soem mocking sure, but eveyrone expereinces that
most of the spazzes are either trolls, idiots or religious peopel who dont know their own religions history
and not one of those are anyoen to be botherd by
they are their own problem
ignore the bs completely, unless you wanna have some fun withit ;-D
which most of us do
as an eclectic i dont know a lot of facts andinfo
just the basics
xmas is a pagan tradition, ancient, all teh factors of xmas are pagan, from the prezzies, tinsel/decoration, trees, candles, to the food and festivity
easter is pagan, a festivil of birth and fertility, hence rabbits, eggs and sun etc
halloween is a pagan beleif that you can ‘contact and or respect’ the dead on that night
other than those things and the fact that most religions are based in paganism somwhere as its oen of the oldest and christianity certainly is made up purely of paganism, judaism and others beleifs
it really has very little of its own
I can give you my definition of Paganism, but apart from that Sacred Texts is a great website, or good old history books from the library.
The word Pagan comes from the Latin “Pagi”, which were fortified places in the country around Rome where common folk and farmers could flee to avoid hostile invasions. With the coming of Christianity, those who did not want to convert fled to these closed communities.
Christianity in its early years was an urban religion and “Pagan” was an insult hurled at the country cousins who saw no need to convert to the new religion. These days it is a generic term encompassing a diverse range of religions excepting the main three Judaism, Islam and christianity. There is debate as to whether or not it includes Hinduism.
Generally Paganism is not considered a religion, just as monotheism is not a religion; however there are those of us who are eclectic and simply prefer to self-identify as Pagan.
Paganism includes any of the pre-christian religions. Today’s Pagans are technically “Neo-Pagans” as we are reconstructing what our ancestors believed/worshipped etc. Although they have their roots in ancient practices, this cluster of religious beliefs has been refigured in modern times, often in association with an interest in eclectic New Age practices.
Pagan beliefs can be broadly categorised in three streams – Polytheism (belief in many gods), Pantheism (belief that the whole of reality is divine) and Animism (the belief that spirits are active in aspects of the environment). Some movements have a strong feminist/Goddess orientation. Within those broad definitions, Neo-Pagan traditions proliferate.
Pagans can include Pantheists, Agnostics, soft or hard Polytheistics, Eclectics, Druids, Shamanists, Re-constructionists (Norse, Celtic, Kemetic etc), Monolatric (One God/Many Godheads) or any of the generally indigenous religions (American Indian, Australian Aboriginal, African), However some Atheists self-identify as Atheistic Pagans, and there are Pagans who are Monotheistic, only worshipping the Divine Feminine.
The main thing that I always stress is that not all Pagans faiths are nature (earth) based, and that not all Pagans are Wiccan’s or Witches.
As an additional note, Eclectic Paganism is often misrepresented by those new to Paganism. It doesn’t mean picking from a salad bar of Gods and Goddesses and using what ever you want. It means having a sound knowledge of your core religion and integrating non-competing ideas. People who honor deities from different religions are poly-religious or multi-faithed.
Good place to look – http://www.sacred-texts.org
There is a search option that you can type in Christmas and Yule and get a great number of resources and articles.
What we celebrate – a secularized Christmas – tree, presents, family, love, no religion.
My children have had the opportunity to learn about Christmas and religions, from Christianity through Wicca, and have chosen, as adults, to be mainly non religious themselves.
I would never dismiss anyone because of a diverging opinion. Oh and Scotgirl60 above has a point, nobody really knows everything about ANY pagan tradition, though we have a little more information on the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, Vikings and a few others. However, the Germanic tribe that lived east of Bavaria did not write their stuff down, unfortunately. Most cultures are long-gone to us, save for snippets and small glimpses. I’m not trying to take away your enthusiasm, I also don’t understand why, you should keep your children AWAY from Christianity? What’s the difference between Christianity and the Visigoth religion? Seriously, why do you have anti-Christian, anti-current religion bias? I’m not anti-primitive religions. I love “pagan” religions and I support them, that’s why I DON’T like current “paganists” ’cause they’re not truthful, they just use the traditions… like they’re commodities and Barnes & Nobles sells books on “paganism” where the traditions are reduced to bargain bin. Mmmm… anyway, enjoy the Christian holiday that has elements of many, and I mean dozen of traditions, customs and nationalities (America, Germany) and enjoy Christmas. Oh yeah, we should be happy that Christians preserved the holiday so we could celebrate, it would’ve never been possible without Christianity. Thanks early Christians for letting atheists of today have something to remember their “pagan” traditions by.
The term pagan is from the Latin paganus, an adjective originally meaning “rural”, “rustic” or “of the country.”
Heathen is from an Old English word for “not Christian or Jewish.” Historically, the term was probably influenced by a Gothic phrase that meant “dwelling on the heath.”
Try these sites for more:
http://www.Witchvox.org – Neopagan news and networking site
http://www.cog.org – Covenant of the Goddess (U.S.)
http://www.paganfed.org – Pagan Federation (UK), (Canada)
http://www.equinoxpub.com/journals/main.asp – The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies
Starred for my Pagan contacts 🙂
I’ve seen some of my Wiccan contacts recommend these sites:
Pagans get bashed really badly on this site and it’s totally unfair. They are the most decent group of people around.
Yahoo Answers really is a terrible place to be seeking these kind of answers.. But your lucky I decided to swing through, and yes that was a little arrogant. Here’s a fantastic website on true Paganism.. I say true Paganism because most sources, especially Wicca, have been thoroughly corrupted by Christianity. Happy Yule season!