War On Solstice pt. 1

Time to start chatting about the War On Solstice, as so much of the media ramps up to full-speed in its back-and-forth about the Christmas spirit. While they talk about a) Whether or not X or Y is causing damage to the true meaning of Christmas, and, b) all the glorious things you can spend money on, in what is apparently the actual true meaning of Christmas, the Old Weird Albion will have a few posts about the War On Solstice: Christmas, Solstice, Santa Claus, and how it all got to be the way it is.

I would’ve waited another week or two, but it seems the first salvo in the War On Solstice has already been fired – this year, from the ‘left’ of the Yule debate! Ed Buckner, president of American Atheists, Inc., wrote a brief guest post for the Baltimore Sun‘s “In Good Faith” blog reminding people that the Christians weren’t the first to annex the Solstice for their own religious needs.

So apparently, now, even the ‘official’ atheists are getting into the game – certainly more ironic than the Christian argument. I would never claim to be a practicing pagan, by any stretch. But to have one’s holiday season annexed, in a quasi-religious manner, by atheists – well, that seems close to a slap in the face.

I understand the religious quagmire of a holiday based on an actual, astronomical, scientifically provable fact of nature. But if the atheists are looking to commandeer a holiday whose trappings, ceremonies, traditions, and language has been stripped of religiosity, doesn’t Christmas fit the bill better?

I’d love to hear the pagan point of view about this funny little conundrum – check Contact and hit me with an email!

More on the War soon to come…


  1. As a Wiccan I really don’t care what Atheists or Christians do. Traditionally the pagan attitude toward other religions is “who cares what those outsiders do”.

  2. Having just read Ed Buckner’s article I disagree that the Atheists are trying to “commandeer” a holiday or strip it of “religiosity”. In keeping with their beliefs they are choosing to celebrate an astronomical phenomenon, the physical “reason for the season”. Makes sense to me.

  3. Sch: Thanks for the comments!

    I suppose my thought is that by attributing an inherent ‘atheism’ to an event that has been celebrated as a spiritual one for millennia – by attempting to make this event into an ‘atheistic holiday’ rather than one of tradition/religion/spirituality/whatever – in my opinion, the absolute result is to strip that religiosity and to strip and spiritual meaning from that event.

    In other words, to take the solstice and turn its language and ceremony and celebration into an event specifically FOR atheists, as their wares and their events seem to do, does it therefore, within this current argument and language, negate spiritual connotations from which they are drawing in the first place?

    It seems to me to be little different from trying to turn Christmas into a specifically atheist holiday (which, lets face it, it essentially is anyway at this point).

    (And, of course, I’m only interested in the conversation – I don’t think, absolutely, one way or the other! 🙂

  4. It is not as if atheists are using the rituals of pagans. The solstice, being an astronomical event, is public domain. Claiming it as one’s own is a bit like trying to patent the triangle.

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