It's Christmas morning. Most children will soon be waking and tearing into the gifts Santa brought for them. Not mine- we celebrated our holiday Yule, on Thursday- with Saint Nick and all the trimmings. I've had some ask why we do it that way, break from the norm so far, and there are a few reasons. One: We are not Christians. And there fore do not want to raise our children in the thought that all has to be done on Christmas. If that's not your path, then don't follow it. We want to make our own traditions. Two: We don't have our act together enough to do Saint Nick on St. Nicolas Day (Dec. 5th). Maybe someday. Three: My middle three children need an equal time with their dad and giving up a day we don't celebrate really anyways, just makes sense for us. He does Santa for them on Christmas with the traditional presents and hoopla- very nonsecular/Americanized. So it all rolls well for us this way. They don't get confused or feel left out, we explain to them our differences and they find the joy in it. (The middles see it as getting 2 holidays- insert eye roll here- not exactly in the realm of how we want to teach them but they're still young.)
Back tracking to reason one- starting our own traditions, this is something I've been trying to do for many many years. Just not with a lot of success. I can only blame myself for not being consistent in my effort and looking for ways to do this. A friend of mine has and posted a blog about it a year ago, which is where I really am trying to get to. These Are The Days: Solstice and Marymas I love this post and the things she and her family have started. This is what I'd like to teach my children- these are my ideals too. I'm just not as well put together as Amy. lol
I'd like to have a ritual/prayer/tradition we do on and leading up to Yule/Winter Solstice. I'd like to celebrate Saint Nick on HIS day. I'd like to come up with some fun adventure/tradition we do on actual Christmas day, makes it different for us. (Last year we ate lasagna, and I wanted to continue that this year but didn't make it to the grocery before it closed- so we're having homemade soup) I'd like to recognize each of the 12 days of Yule and talk about what each day is about- there will be a note at the end of this post on this.) I'd like to teach our children our spiritual path with more definition and conviction. Luckily for us (Pagans that is) we have many opportunities for this throughout our year, with many holidays/Sabbaths and not just the 2 main ones like in Christianity. So opportunity abounds- but I have to take action and put effort forth into this. I am hoping to find a stronger base and other fellow Pagans with children who may like to start traditions to teach our children about the joy of us. I obviously need to work at this.
This time of year can be hard for me, to not just tell people off. I have a few pet peeves that only come around and I get very sensitive about them- I have to work on it and do daily. One- everyone says Merry Christmas to everyone they see/encounter. Happy Holidays works just fine (and this is how I always respond back)- assuming everyone around you celebrates Christmas is a bit presumptuous. And really you don't know if you're offending someone or not. So why not take the safe road and say Happy Holidays. Two: Ok I get most people celebrate Christmas but why do groceries have to close by 6pm on Christmas eve- what about those that are not Christians and have to work and may have needed something before everything closes for a whole day the next day. 8 or 9 would suffice wouldn't it. Here where I live we have very high Muslim, Jewish and Pagan community count- I'd even venture to say almost 1/2 of the population is comprised of these faiths and are not Christians or celebrate Christmas. But Christmas is a national holiday- and not a religious one. (And in my Op part of the reason it's so commercialized. Hey just sayin'- don't shoot me!)
Ok went off a little there....
There are 12 days of Yule so I still have some time left to start a new tradition with my kids. I want to honor the Earth, the Goddess. So as a part of that I'm going to find a prayer and have the kids help me make an Earth Altar with items that represent the elements and nature herself. We're going to string some dried cranberries and place these, along with bird seed, in our yard to feed the robins and other winter birds that visit. I'd love to take a long winter walk in the woods but being 8.5 months pregnant this will have to wait. But we will talk about the Sun's return to us and how important taking care of the small things in our environment is part of who we are.
Time is not done and we'll keep Yule alive, recognizing the final day. For us it's not just one day out of the year. It's daily, for 12 and then another 353 days for the rest of the year. With this new year my resolution is to put in more effort and love- to teach my children the value of our beliefs.
The 12 Days of Yule:
1st Day of Yule- Mother's Night
2nd Day of Yule- The Winter's Solstice
3rd Day of Yule-The Virtue of Courage
4th Day of Yule-The Virtue of Truth
5th Day of Yule-The Virtue of Honor
6th Day of Yule- The Virtue of Fidelity
7th Day of Yule- The Virtue of Hospitality
8th Day of Yule- The Virtue of Discipline
9th Day of Yule- The Virtue of Industriousness
10th Day of Yule- The Virtue of Self-Reliance
11th Day of Yule- The Virtue of Perseverance
12th Day of Yule- Ends the season of Yule as we prepare for the upcoming year, It's a time to remember where you came, as well as a time to make plans for the future. Take oaths, make promises, take inventory- so you know your present position in relation to where you want to be.
(For a more detailed description of each night please ask and I'll be happy to share. I am sharing this list from a dear friend of mine.)