I’m entering that time of year where I start to hate most people of most faiths. It starts around Halloween and ends somewhere around mid-January. It’s not for any one faith or reason, mind you. It’s just a conglomeration of things that makes me stabby. There really is no ‘War on Christmas’ as the media would like you to think. But there is a certain degree of insensitivity other people have about people of other faiths. As if for about three months we lose our collective minds in an attempt to educate everyone we come across about our faith and cause.
You know, at the interest of full disclosure, I was one of those pagans to many moons ago. One of those Llewellyn 101 Book Wiccans who felt it was my duty in this world to preach to everyone how the Christians stole our holidays away. But, unlike many, I grew out of that phase.
Why do we, as mortals, feel the need to be right so often? I watch many pagans of many flavors go about stating that no faith is right or wrong, what is right for the individual is right. But when someone wishes them a Merry Christmas in an expression of genuine goodwill, they will go about educating the speaker about how Christmas is really the celebration of the Winter Solstice that just happened to fall on the 25th that year and is really the pagan Yule, or that it’s some bastardized celebration of Mithras, or whatever eclectics are preaching these days. That’s so incredibly hypocritical and if you know me, you know I hate hypocrites.
The thing is, there are at least a dozen different religious celebrations that occur for about four weeks starting in the middle of December. No one is superior to the others. Sure, Christmas gets top billing commercially but that’s because there are, without argument, more Christians per capita than there are of other faiths. At least in the USA. Sure, there are some people who think that it is their God-given duty to convert the masses, but the average person who wishes you a Merry Christmas just means well. Don’t be an obstinate ass and tell them how their beliefs are wrong or how they are offending you by not psychically knowing that you aren’t a Christian.
I’ve been a pagan of various flavors for longer in my life than I haven’t. My journey never ends and I am constantly growing. So, I tried an experiment. Friday I had a well meaning pagan friend wish me a “Blessed Yule” over Facebook. And I corrected them, “Thanks, but it’s actually the fifth day of Heliogenna for me.” Then went on to explain how the modern interpretation of the Winter Solstice worked and that they should really consider my holiday because I knew she worshipped Aphrodite and I was pretty sure an ancient Greek goddess doesn’t take honor or celebration in a Nordic-Celtic holiday that was appropriated by neopaganism.
The response I got was along the lines of how she didn’t appreciate it and she was simply trying to give me well wishes. Well folks, that’s what Merry Christmas means to most. It’s an expression of well-being.
The bottom line is, don’t claim to be part of a religious movement that doesn’t proselytize when that’s exactly what you are doing when you educate someone on how offended you are that they wished you a Merry Christmas because you don’t celebrate that holiday. I’ve said it here, I’ve said it time and again on my podcast, “Don’t be a douche.” The right and human thing to do is to simply return the sentiment. If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I echo that. On the rare occasion I hear a Happy Hanukkah, I nod, smile and wish them the same. Happy Yule gets the same response. If for some reason I’m uncomfortable uttering those words, a simple, “Thank you, you too,” suffices.
So, be kind to your fellow man, understand that most people are stressed enough this time of year without having their well-wishes questioned or corrected and try to have the happiest holiday season you can.