Rose Ariadne's Chitchcraft Blog

Dear Friends,

I hope you are managing to keep warm this winter! With the winter solstice rapidly approaching us, I thought I would write a few lines about some of the pagan traditions that have been incorporated into the modern Christmas traditions. Many people don’t realize that a lot of the traditions that they practice were already being used long before the birth of Jesus!

Some people are confused by the fact that I practice Wicca, yet we still follow a lot of seemingly Christian traditions in our household when it comes to the winter season. Well, this is because many of those traditions have been around for a long, long time and have far richer histories than most people imagine.

No one really knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth. In fact, this is very debatable and there are numerous studies directed at finding out. Nevertheless, a lot of historians think that he was most likely born in September, although some argue and say mid-summer. Why not in December? Because the Bible talks about shepherds and their sheep in the field that night-something that probably would not have happened in the cold winter months.

So why is Christmas celebrated on December 25th? There are several reasons. For one thing, the feast of the Son of Isis (the Goddess of Nature) was celebrated in ancient Babylon on December 25th. During this celebration, gifts were exchanged and there was lots of partying and eating.

In Rome, Emperor Aurelian established the date as the birth of the Invincible Sun as part of the winter solstice celebrations that were held in the Roman Empire. Their celebration was referred to as “Saturnalia” and it honored Saturn, the God of Agriculture. During Saturnalia, the Romans would exchange good-luck gifts called Stenae, or “lucky fruits.”

Saturnalia is also important in our history because the Mummers were born there. The Mummers were singers and dancers that traveled from one house to another in costume, entertaining everyone as they went. This is more than likely where we get Christmas caroling from.

In Northern Europe, pagans celebrated Yule long before Christianity came to the land. Yule was their winter solstice celebration and it was symbolic of Mithras, the Sun God. One of the rituals to celebrate Mithras was to light a candle. Yule logs were also burned to honor the sun and holly berries were used to decorate as they were considered to be favored foods of the gods. The Yule log was the middle of the trunk of a tree that was taken to a big fireplace where it was meant to burn for 12 days, hence, the 12 days of Christmas.

This was also about the time that mistletoe started being used, too. It was thought to be a sacred plant and kissing under it brought luck in fertility.

Even Christmas trees got their start during this time. Many people brought evergreens into their home as reminders that the crops would grow again and that winter wouldn’t last forever. Druids used trees as religious symbols and held some of their most sacred ceremonies around them. Romans decorated their halls with garlands and even out candles in trees in order to decorate for Saturnalia.

Some people believe that when Pope Julius I declared that December 25th would be celebrated as the date of the birth of Jesus he was trying to win over the pagans in an attempt to convert to Christianity. After all, if they were already celebrating on that day to begin with…

If you are new to Wicca and you’re worried about giving up some of your favored Christmas traditions then you don’t have to be. In fact, the majority of the Christmas traditions have been celebrated for thousands of years-before Christianity. Knowing the true meaning behind the traditions can help you appreciate them more and even implement them into your own celebrations.

At our house, we love to celebrate. We celebrate the winter solstice and Yule and it’s a celebration that lasts for nearly a week. Throughout the rest of the month, we also have mini-celebrations where we get together with friends, exchange gifts, and generally have fun with each other. It’s a good time of year.

With my children, I try to make sure that they understand where our traditions stem from and that they’re not simply meaningless rituals that we perform year after year. It’s important to know why you are doing something or else the meaning is taken out completely.

No matter how you celebrate the winter season, I hope that you have lots of luck and love on your side. Take some time to step back and appreciate the things that you have in life and take some extra time to let those around you know how much you love and appreciate them.

And don’t forget to be merry and to joyful this season. It’s the start of a new solar year, after all, and only good things can happen from here on out!

Brightest Blessings,

Rose Ariadne
Your Warm and Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”

Posted by Rose Comments 2


  1. marie-christine says

    It’s interesting that you share with us all thoses mixed traditions, that sometimes can mixed us up also, because sometimes we even don’t know what are the real roots to the celebration we tend to celebrate in our family and either in our own beliefs. Thank you for putting in a little bite of light on this and in the same time. Have a good holidays, and Yule celebration with your loved ones.

    Brightest Blessings

    December 19th, 2010 | #
  2. Linda says

    Thank you so much for this Rose. I would like to know if you will ever have a Facebook Share button so we can share to Facebook. I would love to share this with all my friends on there as it gets frustrating trying to explain to them about these traditions. As for now, I’ll just copy and paste the address because you explain it all wonderfully. Thank you! :wink:

    December 20th, 2010 | #

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