Now is the time of year when we see all the comments about Christmas being a pagan holiday. Some say that Christmas observances should be abandoned. Some say a simple Winter Solstice observance is best. If you ask ten people, you will get ten answers. So, what’s a modern animist to do?
You know, in Pan Society we say it’s up to you. You’re a sovereign individual. It’s up to you to decide what feels authentic to you. If you want to have a religious, secular, minimalist, natural or no Christmas, it’s all good.
However, if you grew up with Christmas and want to keep it, let me suggest that you consider a cultural Christmas. A cultural Christmas is the celebration of all the trimmings that focus on that things that you enjoy.
Lot’s of people have really happy memories of food, friends, lights, tv shows, and so many other things that warm the cold nights. Hot chocolate by the fire while singing Christmas carols, shopping, wrapping presents, and decorating the house are among some people’s fondest memories. It’s a time of year where we set aside life so that we can come together with friends and family.
Why throw away a tradition that gave you so much joy because you want to live a more natural, connected life? Being animist doesn’t mean that you have to stop engaging in things you love. It’s inclusive, not exclusive.
Whatever you do, just do it in a way that honors all life. If you do that, you’re being authentically animist.
If you don’t like Jesus or church, don’t have nativity scenes. Don’t go to church.
If you don’t like commercialism, maybe you can forego presents. Or perhaps you do handcrafted gifts. You could also put a cap on the dollar value of what you buy or the number of people you buy for.
If you don’t like the stress of expectations, focus on gratitude. In other words, be happy for whatever shows up. Say yes only to what you really want. Say no to what you don’t want. Give others the opportunity to do the same with no resentment or score keeping.
Maybe you want to make it more meaningful. We can do that easily by giving. Choose a charity and either volunteer or give something away. Angel Tree, Kiva, Native Progress are easy ways to be a secret Santa to someone who has a lot less than you.
Whenever a tradition or habit no longer fits our belief system or lifestyle, we can consciously choose to let it go or revise it. However you choose to move through the holiday season, is okay. Here’s wishing you a joyous one.