Friday, March 9, 2012

Eostara vs Easter

As a Pagan parent, I've got my work cut out for me.  My husband is also a member of a minority religion (though very different from my own faith); so in my house, we end up celebrating a lot of holidays that aren't recognized by the world around us.  To make matters worse, both my in-laws and my own parents are very dedicated to their own religions; finding out I was a Pagan and raising my children in Pagan traditions would be a big problem on both sides - so the Wheel of the Year is celebrated with just our little family.  It takes a lot of creativity to come up with new celebrations in a tradition that has a lot less children than your typical Christian church, but I thought I was doing fine - until last Winter Solstice.

I was getting ready for our Solstice feast, cooking up a yummy beef stew while my eldest colored the winter-themed crafts we'd cut together earlier at the kitchen table.  "When is Christmas coming?" she asked.  "Oh, that will be in a few more days, honey," I replied, "but remember, today is the Winter Solstice, and we're going to each open one present tonight!".  She sighed deeply and looked at me with her big brown eyes.  "Mommy, the Winter Solstice is boring!"

Ouch.  But the worst part is: she's right.  At least from a child's perspective, how can one day of freezing nature walks and crafts possibly compare to two overnights at Grandma's, complete with Santa, a huge tree bursting with presents, and several family parties?  Unfortunately, Easter has the same issue.  We visit my mom's family, my dad's family, and attend church in the morning; Easter Day is filled with phone calls from far-away family members with holiday wishes.  There are multiple egg hunts with tons of adults cheering on the kids.  What can I possibly do to make the Spring Equinox equally as exciting?

I've come up with a few ideas I'll share in a bit, but I think for me, it was important to accept that the Wheel of the Year may never be as fun or exciting as the big mainstream holidays.  Like it or not, my children are being raised in a culture and family that's predominantly Christian, and their holidays are going to receive the most prominence and familial support - that's just the way it is.  Fortunately, our culture is also fairly secular; a lot of these holidays are celebrated in popular culture without much religious meaning.  This gives us a great opportunity, as Pagan parents, to introduce our children to the spiritual aspects of holidays.  In some ways, I'd argue that our job is a little easier than some Christian parents - it can be very difficult to take a secular holiday and give it spiritual meaning; but not quite as difficult to introduce a spiritual holiday that has no secular celebrations (think Halloween!).

This is the road I've decided to take.  My children may not be as excited about the Pagan holidays as Easter or Christmas - but at least they're celebrating them.  We emphasize the Summer Solstice as our big holiday, with a few presents and usually a camping trip and cookout; but for the others, we take a trip to the local metaphysical store and pick out one small and inexpensive seasonally-appropriate item to add to the family altar together.  For now, this has just been my eldest daughter and I; and it makes for a great bonding time to talk about the Earth, its changes, and how we fit within that cycle.  As my other children get older, I might take them separately, or find other ways of spending individual holiday time with them.  We'll color eggs and set them on the altar as well.  As always, nature walks and working in our garden will be a must; what better way to introduce children to the Earth's cycles than to let them observe first-hand?  This Sunday will also be my eldest's first public ritual - our local Wiccan group is holding an Eostara-themed Full Moon ritual open to the public and their children.  I'm hoping that alleviating some of the loneliness of the holiday - and showing her that other people celebrate the Earth as well - will help it seem more dynamic.

Our plans certainly aren't finalized, and I'd love to hear ideas from other Pagans (parents or not!).  What do you do or plan on doing with your children to make the Spring Equinox more special for them?


  1. I'm not a parent, but even as an adult, it can be a bit lonely. My significant other is a Pagan as well, so I can celebrate with him, but it's kind of weird coming into work all festively and being like, "HAPPY EQUINOX!!!" and my coworkers are like ".......huh?"

    Although, I do have an Interfaith Sanctuary that I am a member of, and so from Beltaine to Yule, there's usually celebrations or festivals near most of the Sabbats, so I guess it's really just Imbolgc and Ostara that gets lonlier.

    I think that it sounds wonderful what you're doing with your kids, though, having a small, low-key celebration for the Sabbats, in addition to the big family holidays that happen to be non-Pagan. It's sort of like having a tiny pre-Christmas for Winter Solstice, and that's just twice the fun. :D

    Maybe incorporate a special craft or project they get to make only for the Pagan holidays? That way, yes, Christmas is still exciting with Santa and Grandma and presents, but Yule is special because that's when they get to bake cookies or make snowmen decorations out of styrofoam balls and trimmings. Maybe that would make Winter Solstice less boring? Just an idea.

    Excellent post. BTW I love the 5-element pentacle you use as your picture... I actually have that same pentacle as a necklace I bought off of Etsy!

    1. It is so hard to feel festive when it's just a normal day for everyone else. I love your idea of designating a special project for the Pagan holiday - perhaps this year we'll blow eggs on the Equinox and use them to decorate our still-leafless trees!

      I love that pentacle, too - I'll have to look through Etsy now, I've never seen it as a pendant :)

  2. I've never read a more beautiful description of Pagan parenting - honestly, wow!

    Firstly, I love your open, communicative approach. It seems you don't impose religious rite and ceremony on your children; but rather raise them with loving openness while showing them your way of faith and including them in it. Just wonderful!

    Secondly, it's so nice that you combine ALL the holidays, Christian and otherwise - I know of people who deny the holidays, or are even anti-holiday. I say that is closed-minded.

    Anyway love your blog!

    1. Thank you so much! It is very important to me that my children choose their own paths; while they're young we've been exposing them to the three religions of our family, but as they get older I hope to introduce them to the variety of practices out there. For me, the Christian holidays are a part of my childhood, and are very important family traditions - I agree that it'd be awfully closed-minded to deny my children those traditions and time with extended family just because I chose a different religious path!

      Thanks again for the compliment, it means a lot to a beginning blogger :)

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