I have some mixed feelings about Christmas. It started with the shock I experienced at the age of 10 when I realized I had been duped; Santa-Claus isn't real! All those years spent looking out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of good old saint nick flying through the sky with his reindeer! So sad was I when I realized Santa-Claus isn't real!!
One of my reasons for having mixed feelings about this holiday is I feel like it was taught to me out of obligation. It almost seems really fake because the public don't invent their own traditions, they follow, at this point, either a religious or commercial auto-pilot program. The idea of not filling the house with red/green decorations and either a fake or dying pine-tree, is not something most people consider. What with the pressures to "shop till you drop", often spending horrendous amounts of money on trying to express either one's love or one's duty through gifts. There is also the environment to take into consideration; on one hand, cards & wrapping paper is a lot of fun, but it isn't environmentally friendly.
For myself, I have had an interest in studying world religions since I was about 11 years old and it was about at that point that I declared I was not a Christian. I call myself a "non-denominational spiritualist".
I have decided at this point that what I like about Christmas, Solstice, Yule-tide, Hanukkah and any other religious celebrations that happen at this time of the year is what they have in common.
I now enjoy taking the time of giving thanks year round, but I do also pay some extra attention to gratitude during the winter festivities. I enjoy sharing both with strangers and loved ones alike. To give gifts that have meaning, often hand-crafted. If I decorate, I like to choose decorations that I personally identify with, often drawing from nature or old world influences. I love gatherings and I love music (however, the majority of Christmas music sets my teeth on edge).
Historically speaking, Christmas is derived mostly from 4 sources. A Germanic pagan religious celebration called Yule or Yuletide. Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year which celebrated the coming light as the days would grow longer again. A roman holiday called "Sol Invictus". Of course the birth (although some argue it's the conception) of Jesus and Christmastide.
Yuletide Arts & Crafts Fair!
This year I participated in the pagan community's arts & crafts fair at Melange Magick. Take a look at the video journal I created: (also includes brief history of Christmas)