I celebrate the winter holidays in my own personalized, witchy way. I have studied many cultural traditions and taken some traditions from each to incorporate into my own winter holiday celebrations. I have even taken bits and pieces from holiday traditions practiced by those who worship literal deities, which I do not follow, nor believe in.
I call my holiday season: “The Season of Lucifer”
Yule traditions have had a large impact on how I celebrate my winter holidays. As it is a time for self indulgence and Ritual, I of course am very interested in incorporating that into my own practices. Some of these are:
Yule Cleansing Ritual – [Dec 1] Begin clearing out mess in both mental and physical spaces, in preparation for the year’s end and Yule.
Yule Altar Setup – Setting up of the Yule Altar using seasonal and personally powerfully objects.
Feast of the Sun – Celebrate the sun’s return by preparing all kinds of winter foods — cornbread, buttered rum, plum pudding, cranberry dressing, game stew, etc.
Yule Log Burning – [Oak wood] to ignite on Winter Solstice [Dec 21], to be a light on the darkest of days and a promise of the returning Sun.
Yule Goddess Ritual – Reflection on long past, soon past, present and future. I.e. – What new things will you bring to fruition for yourself when the planting season returns? How will you change yourself, and maintain your spirit throughout the cold months?
Christmas is the most popular celebration in the western hemisphere during the winter months. Many of the rituals are filled with love and joy. One of the most powerful things to me is the holiday music.
Christmas carols play everywhere we go during the holiday months. While some of the tunes are catchy, much of the time, the lyrics are religiously offensive to nonbelievers. With that in mind, I search often for music that leaves out religious connotation and focuses on the goodwill, love and joy of the season. In recent times, Religious groups, such as The Satanic Temple, have branched into creating their very own “Satanic Carols”. I want more!
So, naturally you will find me humming holiday tunes all month this month. Be ye warned!
Saturnalia was an ancient roman festival and featured role reversal for slaves and a time of free speech, coined “December Liberty”. It also featured a day for gift-giving [Dec 19] known as “Sigillaria”. I find these three aspects of Saturnalia to be pivotal to my holiday celebration.
When anyone has a perceived position of authority, they have a responsibility to their followers. I think reaching out to any that have “Served” me, and doing something in return is important. It is also important to remember the strife that human slavery causes.
A time for unadulterated free-speech should be honored. It can get offensive, so it should also be handled with reason and compassion. Releasing un-arbitrary censors for a day can provoke positive outcomes when handled with nobility in action and thought.
Finally, the giving of gifts. I think it is important as it is the GIVING of gifts, not the EXCHANGE of gifts. This ritual is practiced selflessly, with no expectation of reward.
Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23rd as an alternative to the commercialism of the Christmas season. 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.
Airing grievances at dinner can be extremely cathartic for all those involved. While it may not be comfortable, at least you have something tasty to fill your emotion filled mouth. I find it important to get everything off my mind, so that I can enter the new year clean and focused forward.
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti [Sol Invictus] or “Birth of the Invincible Sun” is a celebration dedicated to the Roman god Sol, or “Unconquered Sun”. The Romans would give gifts to 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. Having an extra feast during this season dedicated to the Sun, using foods and drinks made with the heat/light or inspired by the Sun.
Mistletoe is also a fun thing to add in my own practices. I have always loved the look of mistletoe hanging and adding a romantic attachment to it fits my personality. It also gets me extra kisses from my partner[s]!
Happy holidays to every one of you, no matter how you celebrate!