The Pagan Offering of Christmas Nostalgia

Fir greens decorate our rooms, smudged with juniper and other aromatics. People acknowledge the wonder of this sacred night in their meditations: They light candles, they burn oak or birch and let it smoke, they let the burning Julblock bonfire smolder; and they hang up the winterwaien – the original Christmas tree. 

During the Roman feast of Saturnalia, pagans decorated with evergreen clippings and decorated living trees with metal and icons. The Biritish Celts decorated their house with holly, mistletoe and ivy; and on the continent, fir and spruce was used. I do love the Christmas season. What other time of year do you witness Christians opening their hearts to pagan ritual? Decking their halls with ancient imagery in order to celebrate the birth of their sect.

 It is, perhaps, one of the most unifying moments of the year.

Of course, many will maintain that they made up the holiday themselves, in their tradition. But even after you keep the Christ in Christmas, old spirits still live on under the guise of an subsumed tradition, breathing in the smoke of nostalgia, taking in the over-priced offerings when a bound bit of elm bark would do, lounging under the “Christmas” tree napping. If one wishes to set the distinction that a Christmas tree is a cut tree moved indoors and thus Christian and not pagan…feel free…most pagans are a generous lot and have little issue with their traditions and symbols borrowed and reused as cultures see fit.

There is a massive amount of metaphor out there; all open for use. We keep an artificial tree indoors year round. It is a small ragged thing. Hardly the iconic image of a Christmas tree but once a year it gets decorated with moments of our lives together. Not really pagan, not at all Christian but a representation of the death of past moments and the birth of new ones. A remembrance and a hope.


Image from Cyra Cancel “Snowy Pines”