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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in holiday

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Sassy Solstice Soirée

Winter Solstice is a perfect excuse to wind down for the year. It is happily emphasized since I am on Winter Break for school– hibernating more and going out less. For the last seven years and counting, I have held some sort of Winter Solstice gathering for friends and sometimes family. I have hosted sit-down traditional dinners and the more informal drinks and appetizers only fiesta. We have mulled spiced-wine together, played an old parlor game entitled, "The Minister's Cat," and lit candles. One of my favorite theme ideas was putting a spotlight on the sun: I served spicy Indian food for snacks and the soundtrack featured all songs mentioning the sun. There are a seemingly endless supply of these to choose from.

This year, I am taking some advice from an Indianapolis food blogger, featured in the current issue of Midwest Living. Her article, "Holiday Party Tips From Annie Marshall: Eat Drink and Be Merry," is a great approach to a more relaxed get-together. From hanging treats on an "edible cookie tree," to her insistence on serving a signature drink for the event that you can make a nice big batch of in advance, Marshall knows her stuff. Here is her recipe for Cranberry Margaritas:

Stir up a pitcher of these rosy margaritas for your next holiday bash. The Simple Syrup recipe makes enough syrup for 30 margaritas but is easily halved or quartered.

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In a foreign warzone, some of the trappings of a traditional Asatru holiday are forgone out of necessity. 

There is no alcohol available, fires become a security concern as well as a highly regulated event when they are permitted at all, and feasting is limited to carry-out plates from the chow hall if you are fortunate and Meals Ready to Eat if you are not.  Hard copies of Eddic Sagas and study materials take up too much space and weight where both are premium commodities, and the infrastructure (and safety) doesn't support portable options like smart-phones to use as the ever-present resource they have become back home.

What we are generally left with is near-beer, companionship, and memories of our favorite components of our lore.  I can say without reservation that my Winter Finding experience was the best heathen holiday I could have asked for.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Anglo-Saxon Yuletide

This is a bit of a chestnut, but like the holly evergreen: the longest night of the year has already begun here in Scotland. If you need some ideas for tomorrow's celebrations to welcome the return of the light, here you go:

The Anglo-Saxons settled Britain in the early fifth century, giving their name to the land now known as England. Very little remains of the native culture of the Anglo-Saxons.  We learn from the Venerable Bede, a seventh century Christian historian, that the months we now call December and January were considered “Giuli” or Yule by the Anglo-Saxons.  According to the historian, his Anglo-Saxon ancestors celebrated the beginning of the year on December 25th, referred to as “Modranect”— that is, Mothers’ Night.  This celebration most likely acknowledged the rebirth of Mother Earth in order to ensure fertility in the coming spring season.  An Anglo-Saxon charm for crop fertility, recorded in the eleventh-century and known as “Aecerbot,” refers to the Earth as “Erce, [the] Earthen Mother” and contains the following praise poem for her:

Hale be you, earth,

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_golden-holly.jpgYule is a tough time of year for me. Not because there is anything tragic. My holiday memories are pleasant. I am the only child of a single mom, who lived far from her family of birth. Christmas was just she and I opening presents and she would make little Cornish game hens for Christmas dinner. Sometimes we would join friends of hers but it was always congenial. My birthday is also at this time of year – the 23rd – as is hers – the 19th.  She was very careful to make sure I got separate birthday and Christmas presents. As an adult, I suffer from too much celebrating, and not enough of it being meaningful. Not to put too fine a point on it, but by the time New Year’s Eve comes around, I’m pretty done with celebrating, thanks-for-asking.

Something I realized was that, as an adult, I really didn’t have Yule traditions of my own. And really, its just in the last five years or so that I realized I wanted to celebrate my Pagan holiday in my own home, not just at a local gathering. Many of the trappings of Christmas are Pagan anyway, the tree, the holly, the wreaths, and of course, the Yule log. When I was a kid, I loved decorating the tree and putting up holiday decorations while listening to carols. Baking cookies was another favorite – and of course – eating them.

But not all my Christmas holiday traditions translated smoothly to Yule. The music was very problematic indeed. Last year I set about collecting Pagan Yule music. I found a few things that were ok, often with poor production values, and then at Rites of Spring I found a CD of Yule music by MotherTongue. So this year I have that to listen to. I also have the music from the South Park Christmas Special, which is my antidote for too much Christian music that I can’t tune out.

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  • Raymond Covey
    Raymond Covey says #
    Hi Selina, wonderful post! Your article made me consider how I celebrate Yule and how I view Christmas music. I feel awkward list

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Damn the Man, Save the Empire

Liv Tyler wasn't always an elf.  Robin Tunney wasn't always a witch.  Renee Zellweger wasn't always Bridget Jones.  Once, they worked at a record store together in that hazy fun that was the 90's.  

I came of age during the 90's.  I remember when my parents would leave my sister and I home alone we would listen to their records, lying on the floor on our tummies for hours, singing along until we heard the garage door open and we would put everything away quickly so our parents wouldn't get the wrong idea that they could ever possibly own anything that would be considered cool to us.

There aren't as many record stores now.  Or music stores for the matter.  We can bemoan what was or accept that things have changed.  It's a different world now for retailers.  But just because we shop more in our pajamas at home sipping on St. Germain (just me?  Okay.) doesn't mean that we shouldn't still support our independent business owners during the holidaze.

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