Holiday Celebrations

Holidays give us the opportunity to gather with friends and family and celebrate our faith and reinforce social connections. The rituals that we observe are what make these days special. You and your family certainly have rituals already and you should not abandon those for the sake of being part of the Pagan community. We found that many of the rituals we were attempting to incorporate from the traditional Wheel of the Year either conflicted with our existing traditions or didn't quite fit with our seasons, which seem to be about 3 to 4 weeks off from what the Wheel of the Year would indicate. And while we gave it a good solid try for several years, it soon became clear that some of our holidays were completely missing the point.

So what is the point of a holiday?

There are three.

1. To mark the passage of time/celebrate the cycles of nature/honor the seasons.

2. To celebrate and commune with the people you care about and who impact your life. Living, dead and incorporeal people alike.

3. To cement your place in a group, in your mind and in the minds of other group members, and to increase your social capital within the group by taking part in shared activities.

Now, I want to be part of the Pagan community and let's face it, no matter what kind of Pagan you are, if you want to be part of the community, you're going to be celebrating the Wheel of the Year holidays at some point. Wicca's just got a lock on that and the polytheists are going to have a hard time breaking it. It's a simple, elegant system of eight holidays marking seasonal changes and honoring Pagan Gods. And it works well, assuming those holidays actually mark your seasonal changes and those Gods are your Gods.

Now I want to be a Pagan and I want to hang out with Pagans. But frankly, most of those holidays don't apply to me. Spring is nowhere in the air in February. Not even a whiff and there is no Brigid, no Brigid cognate, in my Pantheon. Likewise, nothing like Lugh and the grain harvest isn't even close in August. Anyone thinking about baking break in August must have a really good air conditioner because we don't go near the oven this time of year. Baking is for February. When the furnace can't keep up and you need the excuse to use the oven so you don't freeze. Oh, and going outside on either Imbolc or Lughnassadh (Or Lammas, or Loaf Mass or whatever) is not healthy.

I also don't have a dying God theme in my pantheon, so the whole Litha/Yule thing doesn't work out for me. Also, Yule, ahem, that is Christmas, is kind of a big deal with my extended family, on both sides of the divorce. Kind of, as in, beginning the week of Thanksgiving and ending New Year's day it's just a whirlwind of parties. There is no time for sticking an extra holiday in there. This is a case of choosing which group to celebrate with and, honestly, it's a no-brainer. It's got to be the family. The Pagan community is nice, but my family is family.

I did try for many years to conform, to celebrate the Wheel of the Year holidays as written on their prescribed days. But gradually they began to change. Imbolc became February Eve and it became a purification ceremony that had little to do with spring. Yule and Ostara are basically Christmas and Easter and celebrated with family and the rest of the holidays are tied to my home maintenance and gardening schedule and, where appropriate, I have dedicated some of them to deities from my own pantheon. My adaptations serve all purposes and work well for me.

February Eve
Valentine's Day
Eostre
May Eve
Midsummer
First Harvest
Second Harvest
Hallows Eve
Samhain
Thanksgiving
Midwinter
Birthdays

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