As a Satanic witch, I celebrate the winter holidays in my own personalized way. I have studied many cultural traditions and taken some from each, to incorporate into my own winter holiday celebrations and traditions. I have even taken parts from holiday traditions practiced by religions I do not follow nor always agree with. I urge anyone who wishes to leave the mainstream holiday celebrations like “Christmas”, to create their own personal holiday traditions.
Yule, a time for present-giving and indulgent eating and drinking, was a pre-Christian celebration enjoyed by peoples of northern Europe. Today’s Yule log represents the fires lit on these dark days. Oak was the wood of choice, as it was believed to be the most likely to draw the sun back to the earth.
Celebrate Yule with a series of rituals, feasts, and other activities. In most ancient cultures, the celebration lasted more than a day. Have Winter Solstice Eve and Day be the central focus for you and your family/friends and Have gift exchanges and feasts over the course of several days and nights as was done of old. Party hearty on New Year’s Eve not just to welcome in the new calendar year, but also to welcome the new solar year.
I have taken large portions of the ancient yule holiday with me, including the archaic Father Christmas figure and Krampus myths.
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the the mythological birth of “Jesus Christ”, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. Christmas has also been diluted to a commercial holiday celebrating gift giving and the mythological figure “Santa Claus”. While the two have very different origins, they are celebrated almost synonymously in today’s christian home.
Christians often celebrate Christmas by building nativity scenes, singing religious carols, attending late night holiday masses and feasting with family and friends. They often also engage in gift giving and the the commercial holiday centered on Santa Claus.
I have taken some of the tunes with me to add to my own traditions.
Saturnalia is an ancient Roman festival that honoured the god Saturn, and was held on the 17th of December and later expanded with festivities lasting all the way through until the 23rd December. The “Sigillaria” on the 19th of December was a day for gift-giving. The phrase io Saturnalia is the characteristic shout or salutation of the festival
Saturnalia was also characterized by role reversals and behavioral license. Slaves were treated to a banquet of the kind usually enjoyed by their masters. Ancient sources say the slaves feasted first, or that the masters actually served the food. The practice might have varied over time. Saturnalian license also permitted slaves to disrespect their masters without the threat of a punishment. It was a time for free speech: the poet Horace calls it “December liberty”.
I take the service and gift giving from this celebration and fold it into my own.
Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23rd as an alternative to the commercialism of the Christmas season. It was originally created by author, Daniel O’Keefe.
The holiday includes practices such as the “Airing of Grievances”, which occurs during the Festivus meal and in which each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed them over the past year. After the meal, the “Feats of Strength” are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the household is pinned.
I have adopted the “Airing of Grievances’ into my own practice.
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti [Sol Invictus]
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti or “Birth of the Invincible Sun” is a celebration dedicated to the Roman god Sol, or “Unconquered Sun”. Sol Invictus was an ancient cult, originating in Persia, but revered mainly in Rome, from where it also received its name. The cult was introduced by Emperor Aurelian in 274 CE.
The festival was devoted to “Mitra”, identified with the Roman god Sol. The holiday commemorated his birth in the mountains of Zagros. The Romans would gift each other and make wishes; and even kissed under mistletoe.
I love the idea of giving thanks to our Sun, for the light and warmth it gives. Also, the mistletoe is a fun thing to add in my own practices.
I hope these have given you some ideas you can use for your own holiday celebration this winter! Happy holidays!
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