It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

Author:   Lori Dake   

One of the things I truly enjoy doing is decorating for the Holidays, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving is when I start doing my yearly ritual. It was a lot later when I was growing up, sometimes as late as Christmas Eve, because we always had a real tree, and as you all know, real trees tend to dry out and look rather Charlie Brown-ish if it’s left up too long.

I do miss the wonderful pine smell, but I certainly don’t miss the pine needles all over the floor stabbing my toes, or the resin giving me a terrible rash as I string up the lights, nor do I miss the aftermath of what an urban Pagan apartment dweller is to do with a tree that was cut down for our amusement. So, since we use an artificial tree year after year, I get to decorate mine much earlier, as well as lavishly cover our humble abode in twinkly white lights and pretty red ribbons. So, early decorating is a bit of a tradition I have started, and hey – one of the perks of having your own family is to change things up a bit!

And why do I choose to decorate before Thanksgiving? I means seriously! Don’t we always complain about how the holidays are rolling around earlier and earlier, no thanks to the Big Box stores (and all their evilness!) trying to make a few more dollars? Well, quite frankly, I’m going to be busy preparing Thursday’s feast all this week starting on Monday, since I do prep work like a well-founded catering company! Also, since we run a home business predominantly through eBay, the Dakes will be in a retail full swing, trying to compete with those aforementioned Big Box stores and their incredibly low prices! And, Sunday is Clean Up The House! day around these parts, so this is really the only opportunity I have to decorate before Santa starts to pack up his sleigh. That, and well, decorating, for me at least, is a lot of work – an all-day thing actually! – so I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor for just a little bit longer. But I promise, after New Year’s Day, they really do come down! I swear! Really! No ornaments will be discovered with decorated eggs!

So, with this being the Saturday before, I’ve already started straightening up the living room / warehouse to make room for all the decorations, and I’ve even bought a couple new items for this year’s Yule Diorama, which is my version of the Nativity Scene; I have a wolf and a moose to add! I have such fond memories of playing with the cast of characters as a kid, so I restructured the scene to more accurately reflect my Pagan beliefs.

My husband said if I keep adding onto it, that by the time our son has his own kids, my little “manger scene” is going to take up a whole wall! And since almost all of the pieces in my Yule Diorama were originally intended to be children’s playthings, as opposed to being delicate, hand painted porcelain religious icons to be admired and not touched, I happily welcome the thought of having that wall of critters and magickal creatures readily available for my future grandchildren.

We also break another tradition of throwing ourselves into bankruptcy over buying the biggest and best gifts for extended family and ourselves. My husband’s family is huge, and their tradition is that everyone buys everyone a gift. When his sisters, their husbands, their children and now, their children’s husbands and children are factored in, even token five dollar gifts can easily jack up to over a thousand dollars!

So, in order to still manage to give something to everyone, I also invest a full day of cookie baking, with at least four varieties and a dozen cookies per gift bag. (Yes, that’s a LOT of flour and sugar, but soooo good!) Okay, so we end up looking like cheapskates to some of our wealthier family members, especially when the gifts we get in exchange are pretty darn sweet, but I am at least trying to convey the message we do care and hopefully one day, someone will do the math and realize just how much work and love was put into them all. If anything, I got to make my home smell delicious and was able to sprinkle a little magick into their tummies!

Now, one tradition I have retained intact from childhood is to add at least one new ornament for the tree. For at least the last decade, I’ve been desperately searching for a blue Santa, more like a Father Christmas than the Coca-Cola image people are mostly familiar with, because somehow, it just feel ‘right’, for lack of a better term. Our tree is very Pagan-ish, but without being blatant or tacky about it, and I feel it reflects our faith as a whole. So, to find that special Santa would be such a wonderful addition to all the birds, bells, stars, icicles, snowflakes and winter woodland creatures that currently adorn our happy little tree, and it would just plain make me happy.

Here’s the way I see it:

Yes, we’re Pagan, yes we celebrate Yule, but yes, we also open presents on Christmas and have no problem calling them Christmas presents. Sure, we also open a special gift at Yule, but just like any religiously blended family, that’s another perk: more presents for the holidays! But no, we do not send out cards that say “Merry Christmas!” on them, unless we specifically know the recipients celebrate the holiday as such.

Oh, and no – I wouldn’t be offended if you or anyone else were to wish me a “Merry Christmas”. I know a couple times, people have tap-danced around that term, and it always came off as rather awkward, even in email form. I was able to just sense that fumbling around with a half-hearted, generic “Happy Holidays”, and to me, it just took away from the gesture.

Now, while I honestly do appreciate that extra effort, the sentiment is all the same to me, so I kindly ask my friends and family to just say whatever comes to mind. It’s not necessary with us. We always appreciate the sincere wishes, in all its guises. I’m a vegetarian too; as just the same, I’m not out to inconvenience anyone when what he or she gives me is out of love (I’ll just stick with the sides!)

So in closing, I wish a Merry Christmas to you, a Blessed Solstice, a Happy Yuletide, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Happy Boxing Day and a thousand other ways to wish you a wonderful holiday, however you wish to call and celebrate it!

PS. Pssst! So hey – if anyone comes across a blue Santa ornament, would you kindly let me know where to find it? 🙂 I’d really like to start a new quest!

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Yule Diorama: http://pagan-wiccan-practice.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_pagan_nativity_scene

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri… Yuletide!

Author:   Lori Dake  

One of the things I truly enjoy doing is decorating for the Holidays, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving is when I start doing my yearly ritual. It was a lot later when I was growing up, sometimes as late as Christmas Eve, because we always had a real tree, and as you all know, real trees tend to dry out and look rather Charlie Brown-ish if it’s left up too long.

I do miss the wonderful pine smell, but I certainly don’t miss the pine needles all over the floor stabbing my toes, or the resin giving me a terrible rash as I string up the lights, nor do I miss the aftermath of what an urban Pagan apartment dweller is to do with a tree that was cut down for our amusement. So, since we use an artificial tree year after year, I get to decorate mine much earlier, as well as lavishly cover our humble abode in twinkly white lights and pretty red ribbons. So, early decorating is a bit of a tradition I have started, and hey – one of the perks of having your own family is to change things up a bit!

And why do I choose to decorate before Thanksgiving? I means seriously! Don’t we always complain about how the holidays are rolling around earlier and earlier, no thanks to the Big Box stores (and all their evilness!) trying to make a few more dollars? Well, quite frankly, I’m going to be busy preparing Thursday’s feast all this week starting on Monday, since I do prep work like a well-founded catering company! Also, since we run a home business predominantly through eBay, the Dakes will be in a retail full swing, trying to compete with those aforementioned Big Box stores and their incredibly low prices! And, Sunday is Clean Up The House! day around these parts, so this is really the only opportunity I have to decorate before Santa starts to pack up his sleigh. That, and well, decorating, for me at least, is a lot of work – an all-day thing actually! – so I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor for just a little bit longer. But I promise, after New Year’s Day, they really do come down! I swear! Really! No ornaments will be discovered with decorated eggs!

So, with this being the Saturday before, I’ve already started straightening up the living room / warehouse to make room for all the decorations, and I’ve even bought a couple new items for this year’s Yule Diorama, which is my version of the Nativity Scene; I have a wolf and a moose to add! I have such fond memories of playing with the cast of characters as a kid, so I restructured the scene to more accurately reflect my Pagan beliefs.

My husband said if I keep adding onto it, that by the time our son has his own kids, my little “manger scene” is going to take up a whole wall! And since almost all of the pieces in my Yule Diorama were originally intended to be children’s playthings, as opposed to being delicate, hand painted porcelain religious icons to be admired and not touched, I happily welcome the thought of having that wall of critters and magickal creatures readily available for my future grandchildren.

We also break another tradition of throwing ourselves into bankruptcy over buying the biggest and best gifts for extended family and ourselves. My husband’s family is huge, and their tradition is that everyone buys everyone a gift. When his sisters, their husbands, their children and now, their children’s husbands and children are factored in, even token five dollar gifts can easily jack up to over a thousand dollars!

So, in order to still manage to give something to everyone, I also invest a full day of cookie baking, with at least four varieties and a dozen cookies per gift bag. (Yes, that’s a LOT of flour and sugar, but soooo good!) Okay, so we end up looking like cheapskates to some of our wealthier family members, especially when the gifts we get in exchange are pretty darn sweet, but I am at least trying to convey the message we do care and hopefully one day, someone will do the math and realize just how much work and love was put into them all. If anything, I got to make my home smell delicious and was able to sprinkle a little magick into their tummies!

Now, one tradition I have retained intact from childhood is to add at least one new ornament for the tree. For at least the last decade, I’ve been desperately searching for a blue Santa, more like a Father Christmas than the Coca-Cola image people are mostly familiar with, because somehow, it just feel ‘right’, for lack of a better term. Our tree is very Pagan-ish, but without being blatant or tacky about it, and I feel it reflects our faith as a whole. So, to find that special Santa would be such a wonderful addition to all the birds, bells, stars, icicles, snowflakes and winter woodland creatures that currently adorn our happy little tree, and it would just plain make me happy.

Here’s the way I see it:

Yes, we’re Pagan, yes we celebrate Yule, but yes, we also open presents on Christmas and have no problem calling them Christmas presents. Sure, we also open a special gift at Yule, but just like any religiously blended family, that’s another perk: more presents for the holidays! But no, we do not send out cards that say “Merry Christmas!” on them, unless we specifically know the recipients celebrate the holiday as such.

Oh, and no – I wouldn’t be offended if you or anyone else were to wish me a “Merry Christmas”. I know a couple times, people have tap-danced around that term, and it always came off as rather awkward, even in email form. I was able to just sense that fumbling around with a half-hearted, generic “Happy Holidays”, and to me, it just took away from the gesture.

Now, while I honestly do appreciate that extra effort, the sentiment is all the same to me, so I kindly ask my friends and family to just say whatever comes to mind. It’s not necessary with us. We always appreciate the sincere wishes, in all its guises. I’m a vegetarian too; as just the same, I’m not out to inconvenience anyone when what he or she gives me is out of love (I’ll just stick with the sides!)

So in closing, I wish a Merry Christmas to you, a Blessed Solstice, a Happy Yuletide, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Happy Boxing Day and a thousand other ways to wish you a wonderful holiday, however you wish to call and celebrate it!

PS. Pssst! So hey – if anyone comes across a blue Santa ornament, would you kindly let me know where to find it? 🙂 I’d really like to start a new quest!

____________________________________

Footnotes:
Yule Diorama: http://pagan-wiccan-practice.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_pagan_nativity_scene

Reindeer Folklore

Reindeer Folklore

Santa’s reindeer most probably evolved from Herne, the Celtic Horned God. Eight reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh, representative of the eight solar sabbats. In British lore, the stag is one of the five oldest and wisest animals in the world, embodying dignity, power and integrity. From their late Autumn dramatic rutting displays, stags represented strength, sexuality and fertility. As evidenced by multiple prehistoric excavations of stag antler ritual costumes, the wearing of stag antlers in folk dance recreated the sacred male shaman figure called Lord of the Wild Hunt, Cernunnos, or Herne the Hunter, among others–he who travels between worlds, escorting animal spirits to the afterlife and sparking wisdom and fertility in this world. Likewise, the stag’s branching antlers echo the growth of vegetation. In America, the stag represents male ideals: the ability to “walk one’s talk,” and powerfully, peacefully blend stewardship and care of the tribe with sexual and spiritual integrity.

In Northern European myth, the Mother Goddess lives in a cave, gives birth to the sun child, and can shape shift into a white hind, or doe. Therefore, the white hind was magical, to be protected and never hunted. In myth, graceful running women of the forest–who were actually magical white hinds–brought instant old age or death to hunters who chased them.

To the Celts, all deer were especially symbolic of nurturing, gentle and loving femaleness. White deer hide was used to make tribal women’s clothing. White deer called “faery cattle” were commonly believed to offer milk to fairies. In Britain amongst the Druids, some men experienced life-transforming epiphanies from spiritual visions or visitations by white hinds, balancing and healing their inner feminine energy. In Europe white hinds truly exist, and are many shades of warm white cream-colors, with pale lashes–otherworldly in their peaceful and modest behavior. To many Native American tribes, deer are models of the graceful and patient mother who exhibits unconditional love and healthy, integrated female energy.

Let’s Talk Witch – Pagan symbols for Yule Tree

Let’s Talk Witch – Pagan symbols for Yule Tree

Besides Holly berries and leaves, apples, winter birds, fairies,
lights, snowflakes, candles, stags, suns, moons, gingerbreadmen,
mistletoe, acorns, bayberry and cranberry garlands, wreaths, Father
Winters, Santas, and many more? Even the Christ child in the Nativity
set has a Pagan equivalent, although most neo-Pagans I know refuse to
decorate with anything reminding them of a Christian Nativity.

Quite literally, this holiday more than most was lifted from the old
Pagan European holiday, and there is very little that isn’t
appropriate to both Christian and neo-Pagan celebrations of it.

Mirrored Glass Globes to Amaterasu? Balls etched with Holly leaves, candles, wreaths and birds abound in the stores. If you start now, you
can have clove covered pomanders ready for the tree to assure a nice
spicy smell. Have fun, and take another look at the decorations in the
stores.

A Little Humor for Your Day – You Know You’re a Redneck if…

You Know You’re a Redneck if…

Your yard has been proposed as a new landfill site.
Your kid’s birth announcements include the phrase “rug rat.”
Your pocket knife has ever been referred to as “Exhibit A.”
Your sister has a “Soldier of Fortune” subscription.
Your wife is sister and your daughter
You’ve ever stood in line more than 1 hour to get your picture taken with a freak of nature.
Your bank checks feature pictures of dogs fighting.
You’ve ever stabbed someone’s hand while reaching for the last pork chop.
On Christmas eve, you left Santa a beer and a Slim Jim.

Fun Humor

A Little Humor for Your Busy Day: Plastic Christmas

Plastic Christmas


Snow and sleet won’t bother me With my plastic Christmas tree Spreading season’s tidings to my friends. Christmas is so neat and clean, For it’s polyethylene and Folds compactly when the season ends.

Plastic Christmas! Plastic Christmas! With my blow-up Santa in the yard. Think of Christmas joys and thrills Paid for with twelve monthly bills ‘Cause I used my plastic credit card.

Deck the halls with yards of rayon, And the snow and sleet is spray-on — Just protect it all from open flame. But from all the pretty misses I collect synthetic kisses. Isn’t plastic mistletoe real lame?

Plastic Christmas! Plastic Christmas! Greetings etched in polished Bakelite. Passing drivers stare agape When the hear my mylar tape Shouting Christmas carols in the night.

— Turok, 1968

 

 

http://turoks.net/Cabana/

Wishing You, My Dear Friends, A Very Blessed & Happy Tuesday!

Poor Santa! I saw this and immediately thought of all of us goofballs here, lol! Let’s see that’s me at the desk, Kathleen and Mike checking out what I am looking at. Annie is turned around saying, “What you again?” Oh, it’s a wonderful life, hmm, ain’t that a Christmas movie? My brain is froze this morning. Last night, Kathleen and I spent the night with the critters. She would climb up on a table every time one of the baby skunks would come around her. Finally after prying her off the table, I held a baby skunk while she pinky touched it. Then she found out they weren’t going to spray her, they were soft and cuddly and in her own words, “so cute!” She is now skunk’s best friend, lmao! But we got smart last night and brought all the critters and their supplies in the office. Yes, heat! I had to call a serviceman to look at the heater. He is going to fix it but he has to order a part. Gee! He said it would be in Wednesday and the price tag is unbelievable. I am still in sticker shock over that one.

But after spending this much time away from home, I may never want to go back. Ha, hot showers, hot food, just hot, hot, hot! Am I crazy or what? Never go home! No way, Razzy, Kiki, Stinker and hmm, hubby. Well, may I will think that one over. Just kidding! But it is nice to have some peace and quiet. But it is time for the critters to go back to their home and me mine. Thank goodness only one more night. If it wasn’t for Razzy, I would pack up everything up and take the babies home with me. But what she didn’t eat, the cat and dog would. So only one more night, just keeping thinking one more night, lol! The whole time I have lived out here, I have always wanted to go camping. This is sort of a camping experience, sort of. Hell, who am I kidding, I am enjoying this to pieces. I love the critters, I love the company, now if we just had some heat, lol! Oh, well there is always something! Ain’t that life?

I hope all my dear friends have a super day.

May the Goddess Bless You & Yours,

Luv & Hugs,
Lady A

More Funny Christmas Comments

Secular Santa Claus is Coming to Town: What’s so Christian about Santa Claus?

Secular Santa Claus is Coming to Town: What’s so Christian about Santa Claus?

By Austin Cline

Santa Claus as a Symbol of Modern Christmas:
Christians treat Christmas as a Christian holiday, and it certainly started out that way, but we can tell a lot about the real nature of holidays by how they are represented in popular culture. The most common, popular, and recognized symbol for Christmas today isn’t an infant Jesus or even a manger scene, but Santa Claus. It’s Santa who graces all the ads and decorations, not Jesus. Santa Claus is not, however, a religious figure or symbol — Santa is an amalgam of a little bit of Christianity, a little bit of pre-Christian paganism, and a whole lot of modern, secular myth-making.
 
Santa Claus, Christian Saint?:
Most assume that the Santa Claus of modern Christmas is based on a Saint Nicholas in Christianity, but any connection is tenuous at best. There was Nicholas who was bishop of Myra in the early 4th century and who stood up to anti-Christian persecution, but there’s no evidence that he died for refusing to renounce his faith. Legend has it that he did good works with his family’s fortune and he became a much-loved figure in most European cultures. Over time, he was given attributes of pagan figures who were popular during winter festivals.
 
Washington Irving and the Invention of Saint Nick:
It is argued by some that the modern Santa Claus was basically invented by Washington Irving who, in a satirical history of New York, described alleged Dutch beliefs about Sinter Claes, or Saint Nicholas. Most readers accepted Irving’s descriptions as fact and helped people to eventually adopt many of the beliefs and traditions attributed to the Dutch, though not during Irving’s lifetime.
 
Clement Moore and Saint Nicholas:
Most contemporary ideas about what Santa Claus does and looks like are based on the poem The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore. That has two things wrong: it’s original title was A Visit from Saint Nicholas, and it’s unlikely the Moore really wrote it. Moore claimed authorship in 1844, but it first appeared anonymously in 1823; explanations for how and why this happened are implausible. Some of this poem borrows from Washington Irving, some parallels Nordic and Germanic myths, and some may be original. This Santa Claus is completely secular: there’s not a single religious reference or symbol to be found.
 
Thomas Nast and the Popular Image of Santa Claus:
The poem attributed to Moore may be the basis for current conceptions of Santa Claus, but Thomas Nast’s drawings of Santa Claus during the latter half of the 19th century are what engraved a standard image of Santa Claus into everyone’s mind. Nast also added to the Santa character by having him read children’s letters, monitor children’s behavior, and record children’s names in books of Good and Bad behavior. Nast also seems to be the person who located Santa Claus and a workshop for toys a the North Pole. Although Santa here is smaller, like an elf, the image of Santa is basically fixed at this point.
 
Francis Church, Virginia, and Santa Claus as an Object of Faith:
In addition to Santa’s visual appearance, his character also had to be created. The most important source for this may be Francis Church and his infamous response to a letter from a little girl named Virginia who wondered if Santa really exists. Church said that Santa exists, but as everything but a real person. Church is the source of the idea that Santa is somehow the “spirit” of Christmas, such that not believing in Santa is the same as not believing in love and generosity. Not believing in Santa is treated like kicking puppies for fun.
 
What’s so Christian about Santa Claus?:
There’s little to nothing about Santa Claus that is either uniquely Christian or broadly religious. There are certainly a few religious elements to Santa, but he can’t be treated as a specifically religious figure. Almost everything that people today understand as part of the Santa Claus myth was invested in this figure fairly recently and, it appears, for entirely secular reasons. No one took a beloved religious icon and secularized it; Santa Claus as a Christmas figure has always been relatively secular, and this has only intensified over time.Because Santa is the central figure for Christmas in modern America, his basically secular nature says something important about Christmas itself. How can Christmas be essentially Christian when the leading symbol of Christmas is essentially secular? The answer is that it can’t — while Christmas may be a religious holy day for many observant Christians, the Christmas holiday in the broader American culture isn’t religious at all. Christmas in American culture is as secular as Santa Claus: it has some Christian elements and some pre-Christian pagan elements, but most of what makes up Christmas today was created recently and is basically secular.

The question of “what’s so Christian about Santa Claus?” is a stand-in for the larger question of “what’s so Christian about Christmas in modern America?” The answer to the first helps us answer the second, and it’s not an answer which many Christians will be pleased with. Not liking the situation won’t change anything, though, so what can Christians do? The obvious route to take is to replace secular observances of Christmas with religious ones.

So long as Christians continue to focus on Santa Claus coming to town to deliver gifts rather than on the birth of their savior, they will remain part of what they see as the problem. Dispensing with, or even just limiting, the role of Santa Claus and other secular elements of Christmas probably won’t be easy, but that only demonstrates just how deeply enmeshed in secular culture Christians have become. It also reveals just how much of their own religious Christmas they have abandoned in favor of secular celebrations. In effect, the harder it is the more this shows that they need to do it if they want to claim that Christmas is religious rather than secular.

In the meantime, the rest of us can enjoy Christmas as a secular holiday if we want.

Santa Claus by Many Names

Santa Claus by Many Names

By Kelli Mahoney

The jolly elf most Christian teens know as Santa Claus goes by many other names around the world. Like many Christmas symbols and traditions he has evolved from old stories and practices. In some cases his stories are based on actions by real people that have acted to add some joy into others’ lives. Still, he is a quintessential symbol of Christmas as we know it.
 
St. Nicholas:
Once there was a monk known as St. Nicholas. He was born in Patara (near what we now know as Turkey) in 280 AD. He was known to be very kind, and that reputation led to many legends and stories. One story involved him giving away his inherited wealth while he helped those who were sick and poor around the country. Another story is that he saved three sisters from being sold into slavery. Eventually he became known as the protector of children and sailors. He died on December 6th, and so there is now a celebration of his life on that day.
 
Sinter Klass:
The Dutch maintained the celebration of St. Nicholas far more than other cultures, and brought that celebration to America. The Dutch gave St. Nicholas the nickname, “Sinter Klass”, and by 1804 woodcuts of Sinter Klass came to define modern day images of Santa. Washington Irving popularized Sinter Klass in The History of New York by defining him as the patron saint of the city.
 
Christkind:
Christkind, which is German for “Christ Child,” was considered something like an angel that went along with St.Nicholas on his missions. He would bring presents to good children in Switzerland and Germany. He is sprite-like, often drawn with blond hair and angel wings.
 
Kris Kringle:
There are two theories on the origin of Kris Kringle. One is that the name is simply a mispronunciation and misunderstanding of the Christkind tradition. The other is that Kris Kringle began as Belsnickle among the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1820s. He would ring his bell and give out cakes and nuts to small children, but if they misbehaved they would receive a spanking with his rod.
 
Father Christmas:
In England, Father Christmas comes down the chimney and visits homes on Christmas Eve. He leaves treats in children’s stockings. He would traditionally leave small toys and presents. Children would leave out mince pies and milk or brandy for him.
 
Pere Noel:
Pere Noel puts treats in the shoes of well-behaved French children. He is joined in his travels by Pere Fouettard. Pere Fouettard is the one who provides the spankings to bad children. While wooden shoes were used historically, today chocolate wooden shoes are filled with candies to commemorate the holiday. Northern France celebrates St. Nicholas Eve on December 6th, so Pere Noel visits then and on Christmas Day.
 
Babouschka:
There are several stories about Babouschka in Russia. One is that she put off traveling with the Wise Men to see the Baby Jesus, instead opting to have a party, and regretted it afterward. So she set out every year to find the baby Jesus and give Him her gifts. Instead, she does not find him and gives the gifts to the children she finds along the way. Another story is that she purposefully misled the wisemen, and soon realized her sin. She places gifts at the bedsides of Russian children, hoping that one of them is the baby Jesus and that He will forgive her sins.
 
Santa Claus:
Christmas shopping has been a tradition since the early 19th century. By 1820 stores advertised Christmas shopping, and by 1840 there were already separate holiday ads that featured Santa. In 1890 the Salvation Army began dressing up unemployed workers as Santa and having them solicit donations throughout New York. You can still see those Santas outside stores and on street corners today.

Yet it was Clement Clarke Moore, and Episcopal Minister, and Thomas Nast, a cartoonist, that brought us the epitome of our modern day Santa. In 1822 he wrote a long poem titled, An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas. It is what we now know as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and it gave us many of the modern day characteristics of Santa such as his sleigh, laughter, and ability to fly up a chimney. It was Nast that drew the cartoon of Santa in 1881 that depicted him with a round belly, white beard, large smile, and carrying a sack of toys. He gave Santa the red and white suit that we know so well today. He also provided Santa with his North Pole workshop, elves, and Mrs. Claus.

 

Nessa’s Welsh Cookies

Nessa’s Welsh Cookies
(Wonderful for Santa’s Deputy Ritual)

4 c. flour
½ c. shortening
1 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. currants
½ c. milk
2 eggs

1) Mix flour and dry ingredients.2) Add currants. 3) Cut in shortening as for pie [I use a fork for this] 4) Add eggs and milk. 5) Roll out on floured surface. 5) cut circular shape out [I use a glass]. 6) Fry on griddle at low heat til a light brown appears on each side.
Makes about 5 dozen.

Ritual to become Santa’s Deputy

Ritual to become Santa’s Deputy

By Nessa CrescentMoon, Hps, OWM

Each year, almost since the birth of our first child, we’ve read aloud L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause. Near the end of the book, Santa deputized a handful of his friends, ones who believed in his calling that work in his place. This gave me great inspiration one year to create a ritual in which we would ‘officially’ become Deputies of Santa You too can read this wonderful book online at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/520
It is in full text from ProjectGutenbug.org

Gather needed Items:
1 red candle for Santa
1 white candle for each parent present
Cookies and milk (enough for parents)
Directions:
Place items on altar
Light red candle and say”

“I the Parent
Do joyfully swear
To select and choose
With the greatest of care
Gifts of Love
Gifts to please
I am forthwith
One of Santa’s Deputies.”

Light white candle
Imbue milk and cookies with your newly deputized energy

Eat, drink and be merry

A Solstice Tale

A Solstice Tale

by Andy

 

“Ohhhh, where am I? How did I get here?” Odin climbed to his feet and looked about him. Snow. Trees and ice. It was cold. Gingerly, the Allfather touched the large lump already well formed on his head. It was sore and it was hard for him to think clearly. Now he remembered. It was that idiot Thor’s fault. Ragnarok, the last battle at the end of the world had come. There he had been, fighting Fenris, the Great Wolf. Nearby, Thor fought the evil Midgard Serpent, whose tail circles the world. Thor had thrown his mighty hammer Miolnir at the serpent. And missed. The clap of thunder that always accompanied Miolnir’s blows was the last thing Odin remembered.

“Where am I?” Odin thought again. Apparently the world had not come to an end for he was still in it. But the last battle was over, the rest of the Aesir were gone. If he were back in Valhalla, he could look from his throne Hlidskialf, from which all things may be seen, and find out what was going on, but he wasn’t. Then it came to him. This must be the promised age after Ragnarok. Gentle Baldur, raised from the dead, must be ruling in High Gimli. That must be it.

A glance at the stars told the Allfather that this was the far future, and it was the Winter Solstice to boot! “The Solstice!” Odin thought. Old feelings and duties came back to him. He was sure Baldur wouldn’t mind if he went out and judged the people as he always did at this time of the year. He could see the lights of a town in the distance. He would begin there.

Odin put two fingers to his lips and whistled. Out of the woods, as if he had been waiting for the call, came Sleipnir, Odin’s eight legged steed. Sleipnir whinnied and pranced as Odin approached. It had been a long time since the last ride and Sleipnir was anxious. Odin patted the horse and mounted.

More rapid than eagles they flew and in an instant they were in the town. The snow was deep and even and the streets were empty. Brightly colored lights shone everywhere and the Allfather wondered why the people who lived here hadn’t dimmed them yet to pay their respect for the waning sun.

Sleipnir’s eight hooves echoed as Odin explored the town. Rounding a comer, Odin pulled the horse to a stop. There, across the road, was a giant painting. It seemed to be a portrait of himself. His coat and cap were red instead of blue, but their white trim and fur lining were the same. His long beard was portrayed magnificently as was his less-than-magnificent lack of hair. Interestingly enough, he still had two eyes. Instead of riding Sleipnir, he was driving a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer; one for each leg, he supposed.

Runes on the sign read: “He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!” Odin realized that the painter must have thought that he needed a sleigh to carry all the treasure for the good. “The people of this age must be very good indeed, Sleipnir, if they think I can’t carry all the treasure myself,” the Allfather remarked.

“Why do you think my spear isn’t in the painting? Is everyone so good that no one gets the point anymore?” Odin chuckled. Well, he would soon find out if these people were as good as they believed.

The Allfather rode to the nearest house. “This place looks as good as any to start the judging. Stay here boy, I’ll be back soon.” Odin dismounted and walked into the house, the door opening and closing behind him magically.

In the living room, Odin saw the tree. It was the very image of Yggdrasil, the evergreen tree of life. It was aflame with lights as Yggdrasil had been aflame with fire in the last battle. Upon its top sat a statuette of the All-Seeing Eagle that sits atop Yggdrasil. Odin squinted through the multicolored gloom. “By the Cow!” he exclaimed. “That’s not an eagle, it’s a winged woman!” The Allfather wondered at the twists that the legends must have taken over the eons for Yggdrasil’s Eagle to be transformed into a winged woman. He also noticed that Ratatosk, the messenger squirrel, was missing from the tree. “Still,” Odin thought, “it is a pretty good symbol of the end of light and life at the Solstice.” Presumably the people who lived here would turn off the artificial light at the darkest hour and the tree would be symbolically reborn whole at dawn.

“Santa, why didn’t you come down the chimney? Is it because it isn’t Christmas for four more days? Huh? Is it?” Odin spun around. There, head peeking out from behind a couch, was a little girl.

“Why would I come down the chimney, little girl?” the Allfather asked.

“Because you’re supposed to. Everyone knows that.” Not one to be put off his stride, Odin let that pass. His head still hurt and he didn’t seem to be able to peer into the little girl’s heart so he would have to do this the hard way.

“What is your name, little girl?”

“Sheila….”

“And have you been a good little girl this year, Sheila?”

“Yes Santa! I told you that at that at the mall yesterday when I asked you for a Barbie Dreamboat!”

“Well then Sheila, here is your horse’s leg….” Odin said, as he laid the piece of meat in front of her. Sheila came out and looked at the leg and started to cry.

“But I want a Barbie Dreamboat….”

“What is a ‘Barbie Dreamboat’?” Odin asked, trying to be kind.

“It’s a boat with a blender that makes pink lemonade.”

“A boat that makes lemonade? You know, don’t you, that the leg will turn to gold if you guard it ’til the morrow.”

“I want a Barbie Dreamboat!”, the girl shrieked.

“You’ll get the point of my spear Gungnir, like the wicked do, if you don’t stop whining!” the Allfather said harshly. The little girl disappeared back behind the couch.

Odin walked back out into the street. “Do you think I was too harsh on her, Sleipnir? Maybe I should leave the judging until next year, when I’ll know for sure what happened to us.” Sleipnir whinnied in apparent agreement. The little girl had seen someone at ‘the mall’ acting out his role. Perhaps there, he would find answers.

In the twinkle of an eye, Odin and Sleipnir reached the mall. It was closed and locked, but as before, the doors magically opened before the pair. In the center of the mall the Allfather found “Santa’s Village at the North Pole.” “Santa,” Odin remembered, was what the little girl had called him. “Do I have a village at the North Pole, Sleipnir?” Odin didn’t think so, but his head still hurt and his memories were still a bit fuzzy.

Odin dismounted and went over to the display. “Santa’s Elves making Toys” some runes read. “Elves?” Odin thought, “Surely not.” His mind might be a bit fuzzy, but he recognized dwarves when he saw them. They were short and serious looking; diligent; always crafting precious treasures. Clearly, these were dwarves. Elves were tall, fair, and entirely too full of their own beauty.

There he was again. This time a kindly looking woman whom the runes named “Mrs. Claus” was with him. Frigga, he supposed. She was offering him a tray of “Chocolate Chip Cookies.”

Behind the village was the sleigh and reindeer again. As Odin read the names of the reindeer, he burst out laughing. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” he laughed. “Donner and Blitzen; thunder and lightning.” Thor’s rage would shake Valhalla when he found out that he, Donar, which meant thunder, and his great palace Bilskimir, which meant lightning, had symbolically been turned into two of Sleipnir’s legs.

It was then that Odin noticed the ninth reindeer, apparently the leader of the team. This new reindeer, who had a glowing red nose, the runes named “Rudolph”. The Allfather did not want to dwell for too long on the mystery of the extra reindeer for Sleipnir did indeed have nine appendages on his underside. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” he laughed again. He might like living in this age after all. Now, if he could only get Frigga to start baking cookies….

Yule Joy

Yule Joy

by Harley Hashman

 

‘Tis the age when the Christ signs his name to the season in a giant “X” and it becomes the X-mas, when throngs of shoppers like locusts with tombstones in their eyes foam the waters with their frenzy of consumption. Retailers pray that their hour has come, credit card companies rub their hands together like avaricious spiders contemplating the trapped fly, and we choke back bile at the seven hundredth playing of “Rudolph” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

If I may be allowed to diverge for a moment, Rudolph should have steered those insufferable hypocrite reindeer to impalement on iron spikes. “Then all the reindeer loved him,” indeed.

The term Yule is still used by some as a synonym for Christmas. Of course it is not. Yule comes at the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. It is paradoxically, a Pagan solar festival, and in some traditions is the time when the Holly King – representing death – is overcome by the Oak King – representing rebirth. The Teutonic Yuletide begins on Mother Night, Dec. 20th and ends on Yule Night, Dec. 31st. These are the “Twelve days of Christmas” in that annoying song.

The ecologically questionable tradition of buying a severed young evergreen tree for an entire day’s wages, then dragging it indoors to decorate it, place presents beneath it while it gradually dies, then dump it unceremoniously on the curb is originally a Pagan one, although I suspect that the tree was live and rooted before and after the celebrations. Many people are now using live potted trees which are later replanted. The Yule trees were illuminated by candles, a dangerous practice indoors, which technology has replaced with colored lights that burn out, ornaments that sing “Silent Night” and Hallmark replicas of Star Trek vehicles.

Holly wreaths are another Pagan invention, as are decorated cookies and special breads for the feast. The extensive use of the colors red and green for Christmas is derivative of their use in Yule; maybe an echo of the colors of the holly leaves and berries?.

Consider the Santa myth. The use of reindeers: are these leftover symbols of the horned god, presented in a palatable form? And what about those elves? Why or how did earth elementals become the thralls of a human in red jumpers? The book When Santa was a Shamandiscusses extensively the myth of Kris Kringle. Suffice to say, the character originates in pagan Europe. St. Nick is one of the few magical beings of a non-angelic species accepted by Christians and promoted to their (and Pagan) children. Santa is a micro version of Jehovah, complete with the white beard, who doles out rewards to the faithful – toys instead of paradise – and punishment to the wicked – a coal in your stocking rather than a lake of fire.

When a child finds out that Santa is a fraud, a rite of passage has been completed; never again will that child blindly accept the word of an adult. For some children the realization that Santa is make believe makes it easy to be as cynical about God.

The ritual of the Yule log has been dropped from most mainstream Christianity. A pity, for it is perhaps the most wonderful. Small scrolls containing wishes for the new year are placed on the Yule fire. A portion of the log is saved to protect the house the year-round and to light the log of the next Yule.