This month on my blog I’m sharing holiday traditions, mine and other people’s as well. This is the second of those posts, you can find the first, entitled Giftmas Cards (and subsequent ones) by visiting the main page, here. Happy Ho Ho!
The Magick of Yule
By Jessica Marie Baumgartner
“What do you mean you don’t celebrate Christmas? Christmas is an American holiday for everyone.”
I get this a lot. No I don’t hate Christmas. It’s just not part of my faith. I know plenty of Atheists, Hindus, and Jewish people who go along with their own customs and the majority’s holiday in addition, but that’s not for me. Honestly, I support whatever makes people happiest this time of year. As a Wiccan I love honoring Yule.
“Yule? What’s that? That’s Christmas right?” …Wrong. Yule is the Solstice Celebration to honor the Gods. It has historic links to Christmas being that people have honored the changing of the seasons for thousands of years. Christmas took on a lot of customs to celebrate winter as it evolved through the ages. Yes these two holidays are similar, but not the same.
My husband and I are raising two little witches who are budding with respect for nature and love of the human race. Every year on the Winter Solstice we cast a circle around our Alter and perform a ritual in appreciation of the turning of the year, along with all of the gifts that the new season brings. We don’t often do spellwork because it is not to be taken lightly and we want our daughters to understand that using your personal energies to create change has serious effects. I cook a typical holiday feast: ham, potatoes, veggie casserole, rolls, corn, pie and cookies. Being a bit of a kitchen witch myself, I love making everything from scratch. To me there is no better compliment than my family enjoying my food and I often can’t help but pour my positive, loving energies into the dishes that I create.
We have a tree that we decorate in the backyard, much like a Christmas tree, but ours gets to keep its roots and continue to grow throughout the years. The four of us circle around it and sing. My oldest loves “Jingle Bells.” We actually have a playlist that I call my wintery mix. It has the 10 most popular songs that are typically considered “Christmas Songs” but don’t mention any of the specific religious aspects and are really just about winter and togetherness. We play that when we come inside all cold and ready to open a few gifts. My husband and I limit presents to try and keep the focus on the meaning of our holiday. No more than 3 gifts per person.
The extended family celebration is a bit different. My mom is Catholic, my sister is Atheist, and my dad was raised Lutheran. My parents are divorced and remarried so get togethers are always interesting. I usually host an all day event where one set of parents comes for lunch and the other for dinner so my sis and our families can stay in one place and not drag the kids all over. It is Christmas and Yule. If my sister or I had married a Jewish man it would be Hanukah too because we love and respect each other. In truth semantics don’t matter much because we just want to enjoy our holidays together and have a good time. That is not to say that we don’t have issues.
I have had to have many talks with my girls about different religions and customs. They are beginning to understand. It’s not always easy. My eldest is actually concerned about the fact that her friends’ parents lie to them and teach these unsuspecting children that Santa Claus is a real being. My husband and I have had to explain that St. Nicholas was a real person, that his spirit can be considered the spirit of giving, and that some parents wish to keep this spirit alive by pretending that he is still a physical presence. Teaching a young mind to respect that others have different beliefs and that we each have our own path to walk can be difficult.
This concept inspired me to write my first children’s book. “My Family Is Different,” is the story of a young Wiccan girl who realizes that her family celebrates a different faith than most. She questions her friends about their beliefs and learns that they all have their own religions. This teaches her that we are all different and that makes her feel good. My illustrator Laura Winship-Fanaei brought this tale to life with her colorful, imaginative, pictures and THG StarDragon Publishing released our story of acceptance and diversity this past September. It is available through amazon and can be ordered in any bookstore.
I’m just happy to have another teaching tool that gives my children, and maybe others, a simplified idea of how wonderful it is to be connected with a variety of ideas. Our society prides itself on our diverse culture, and this is the best time of year to really let it shine. Happy Holidays!
Bio: Jessica is addicted to the written word. She has previously published stories on Quantummuse, Hellfire Crossroads, and is to have a tale in issue #61 of Blood Moon Rising Magazine. In addition to fiction, Ms. Baumgartner’s articles and essays have been featured by The Witches’ Voice, Circle Magazine, the St. Louis Examiner, and Spirit One Magazine. Her children’s book about religious diversity and acceptance, “My Family Is Different,” was released by THG StarDragon Publishing this past September and has received much enthusiasm. You can find her blog here: jessicamariebaumgartner.wordpress.com