The more traditional American holidays can leave some of we Wiccans and Pagans feeling a little left out and blue. Here are some ideas for taking pride in ourselves and where we live– as the old Francis Scott Key ditty goes: "the land of the free, and the home of the brave." Get your magical-minded buddies together for an outdoor picnic. For this, I would suggest your friendly, less populated county or state parks. If you are concerned about the forest ranger making the rounds, hold the festivities in your own (or co-host with one of your guests') big back yards instead.
Cook special dishes of significance to you. Cakes and Ale or Cakes and Wine are always an easy crowd-pleaser. Per Patti Wigington, at the about.com website: "The Wiccan ritual known as Cakes and Ale is often celebrated as a way of thanking the gods for their blessings. Cakes are usually just cookies prepared in the shape of crescent moons, and the ale can be alcoholic or it can be apple cider, juice, or even water." Here is her recipe:
My significant other considers Mother’s Day (along with Valentine’s Day and Father’s Day) to be a holiday created purely for commercial reasons. As a result, she will not celebrate any of those ‘holidays’. I brought a different view of Mother’s Day when we got together. She and I are both Pagans and when I explained this alternate approach to Mother’s Day she wholeheartedly embraced it. I have to thank my friend Amy in Oklahoma for teaching me this Mother’s Day tradition that she and her son have followed for many years. I think her clever reinterpretation of this holiday is perfect for most Pagans.
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:
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.
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:
Yule 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.
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.