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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pagans and Santa

Sunday, December 18, 2011
Woodland Santa
We live in a world that is often very unfriendly to Paganism, which is ironic because many of the commonly practiced traditions are typically co-opted from ancient Pagan traditions. Now let me say that I am not saying that any of our religious systems go back much further then the 1950's with only a few possible exceptions. Rather what I am saying is that Christianity took many of the traditions from the "Pagans" of their time and made them their own.

This article comes out of a question posed on Facebook Page the other day. This questions was pretty much about the confusion between Christmas and Yule. Mainly because she had decided to not include Santa in her holiday tradition. The reason being because he says Merry Christmas. I can understand this even though we include Santa in our traditions.

My household is a multi-faith one, in a sense. My oldest daughter, from my first marriage, is being raised Christian and of course her mother has no issue with Santa, so if I had made the decision to cut out Santa then there would be some confused children. But how does one, if they make this decision, reconcile Santa's very Christian image with one's own Pagan traditions?

Where He Comes From?

One of the Gods that Santa bears the most striking resemblance to is Odin and his eight legged horse Sleipnir. Many traditions had him leading a night time hunt around this time of the year. And in other traditions children would leave out their boots, filled with carrots or straw or sugar (all for Sleipnir). In exchange for this kindness Papa Odin would leave gifts for the children.

While not necessarily a God, their is an archetype from modern Paganism that Santa bears a similarity to as well, the Holly King. Dressed in a long flowing robe, sometimes red, and surrounded by the animals of the forest he was the God of the Dark Half of the year. Rising to power between Litha and Lughnasadh (depending on your tradition) and leaving us at Yule. Replaced by the Oak/Sun King.

So as you can see, as the song says Santa Claus is Pagan Too. But this doesn't really answer the question. Santa is still portrayed as Christian and still is all about Christmas, so what is a Pagan to do? Well either teach and portray him as really Pagan, telling the truth of where he comes from. Or skip him entirely and replace him with the Holly King or Odin, if you lend more towards the Norse/Germanic side of things.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this one. Santa or No?

And oh yeah the picture was found on Flikr, check out the other photos.

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