From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!
Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities.
I love this time of year...though I could do without the single to negative digit temperatures. A lot of my traditions haven't changed from what I did as a child in a Roman Catholic household but I do have some additions. Below, in random order, I list some of my holiday traditions.
- No holiday music or decorations before Thanksgiving. An absolute must. Heck I rarely do any shopping before then either, though handmade gifts are typically made as soon as I find the idea and the supplies.
- Evergreen tree (or fake tree) with lights and homemade ornaments.
- If using a real tree, the section that is cut off the bottom is turned into my yule "log" which I stick a beeswax candle in to burn the night before Solstice.
- Decorations through out the house, many of which are handmade. Most revolve around Santa (the spirit of giving without expectation of return is how I explain him to my son...a right jolly ol' elf) though a few are sun themed. We even have a count down to Santa wall hanging that I made with 24 hand-stitched ornaments for my son.
- Since since the boy-child came into our life, we started decorating the outside of the house with lights too.
- Stockings are hung with care, which are filled by Santa before Christmas morning.
- Solstice Day is when the three of us open our gifts. Years when we have the money, we do a Solstice open house to spend time with our local community, Pagan or not.
- Christmas Eve we spend with my parents. Christmas Day is spent with my in-laws.
- Holiday songs from any belief system though I do tend to favor non sung tunes so that my son and I can sing to them. Current holiday favorites are by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mannheim Steamroller and Piano Guys. Though I have a ton of holiday music. I confess to having CDs anywhere from Burl Ives and Sinatra to Jewel and Reba to redneck tunes to classical to...I don't know what.)
- Holiday cards. I always send holiday cards because who doesn't like getting some holiday cheer along with the bills in the mail? The cards I receive are re-purposed next year into gift tags. I use real ribbon on my packages too as they are easier to recycle.
- I make some sort of ornaments of my niece and nephew. I thought of doing this when I remembered leaving home and having no real ornaments of my own. So now they get at least one every year. I cross-stitch an ornament for my son every year. This year he chose a black cat clutching a gift. Last year was a dragon.
- I bake at least 2 batches of cookies, one of which is my great grandmother's recipe for butterballs. I also make apple juice fudge which isn't too sweet and doesn't taste of the juice either. Many years I help my mother make potica (a Slavic desert bread...ours is made with walnuts).
- My son and I make gifts from him for his grandparents. We've done tea towels, coasters, mugs, etc. This year is hand-print snowman votives. I actually try to make many of my gifts but after doing this for so many years, I'm running out of ideas and I'm pretty sure some people on my list may even be tired of such gifts.
- I always give my son at least one book. Often placing it near him as he sleeps Christmas Eve...partially because I like books, partially in hopes of it tempting him so that I can get more sleep. :)
- Spiritually I celebrate my version of the Heliogenna. It is a modern Hellenic polytheist festival that can span 9 days, 3 days or two. I do it in 9. Not anything elaborate but prayers and offerings each day. The 9 days are arranged so that Solstice is always day 5. This year Heliogenna starts on December 17th. I will briefly explain each day.
- Day 1: Honor the Protogonoi or First Ones (I include the nymphs/nature spirits/Earthkin here.)
- Day 2: Honor the Olympians and Celestial Gods
- Day 3: Honor the Khthonic Gods (typically I have honored my Ancestors on this day but I'm giving them a complete day this year)
- Day 4: On this day I celebrate the reconciliation of Demeter with Persephone and Hades. A reconciliation that encourages us all to forgive those who have injured us.
- Day 5: Winter Solstice, I honor Helios and the return of the light.
- Day 6: Honor the Ancestors (formerly, I honored Mothers on this day both mortal and immortal but I like the idea of being more equal opportunity).
- Day 7: Give Thanks. Show appreciation to your gods, your family, your coworkers, etc. A good day for random acts of kindness.
- Day 8 and 9: Days to be with friends and family. To celebrate the joys of the season and the bonds of love. (I purposely time these days to fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...which means some years the Day of Thanks is day 9 instead of Day 7).
What about you? How do you celebrate the return of the light? What are your traditions? What is it that you must do or it won't feel like Solstice/Christmas/Heliogenna/etc. ?
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