Last night I decided it was time to start putting up decorations for the holidays, and now I’m sitting here going through my iTunes library, putting together my favorite holiday songs for the season. As I go through and listen to a lot of the classics and some more recent songs, I can’t help but get wrapped up in the spirit of the season. Cascada has a new song called “Somewhere At Christmas Time,” and the simple yet beautiful lyrics bring to mind the images we’re all familiar with. In my mind I travel back through the story many of us have learned from the time we were young, of that little child in a manger on a starry winter night. I’m not here to debate the historical accuracy of anything, because that’s beside the point, but I do want to discuss this magical spirit filled with hope and wonder that affects the world during this special time of year. Regardless of what you believe, whether you call it Yule or Christmas, or if you choose not to believe in anything at all, there is something undeniable that happens this time of year that we all feel in our hearts. It’s a lifting, a peace, a joy, a sense of happiness and celebration. I listen to these songs and relive the memories of being with family, of waking up on Christmas morning to find gifts under the tree; the smell of turkey in the oven and the glow of twinkling lights everywhere.
From the time I was born, I was taught the story of baby Jesus, and how he was born in the manger outside the inn. I could visualize the angels filling the sky with song, and the wise men travelling on camels following that bright shining star. I’m more educated now and I understand that much of the Bible is basically a mythology, but I have also learned that “myth” doesn’t mean not real. Since discovering paganism and reading the fantastical myths that many of us adopt as a religious backdrop, I look at the big picture and how these myths are real when we believe them in our hearts. I no longer follow Christianity as a religion, but do I have to be an Egyptian to believe in the myths of Osiris, or a Roman to honor Jupiter? The Christmas story is one of joy, hope, and the redeeming savior coming into the world, and to me that is what Christmas will always be about. Now as a pagan I can also celebrate the redeeming sun coming to save us from the darkness of winter, and the Horned One ruling over the harsh landscape during this time of year. I know there are many pagans who, like a light switch, just automatically try to do away with all things Christmas to replace it with Yule once they convert, but really, what is the difference? I used to be that type of person, but this year I embrace it all. I want to listen to “O Holy Night” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and celebrate the birth of the newborn king. There’s no other way to describe this season other than pure magic. It’s probably the only time of year that collectively we join together in love and good cheer, to just celebrate. It goes deeper than what religion we follow, what gods we honor, or whether we call it Yule or Christmas. As we enter into this joyous season, my hope is that others can see through these walls we put up between each other; that we allow each of our celebrations to color the world just as the lights on the tree come together under that beautiful twinkling star. So no matter what holidays you’ll be celebrating in the coming weeks… remember to just believe.