Before you say I can’t reinvent the holidays, that’s sacrilege let me remind you I am pagan, not wiccan or any specific path that has its own outline of rules. Also known as the I’m a “I DO WHAT I WANT” pagan. I like it that way. I’m also a scientists, I in general hate being told how to do things or what something means. I want to do it myself, explore myself, try myself. This is what I think but please, think for yourself. Ok disclaimer over.
Living in Alaska I have found that the traditional association of seasons presented with the wheel of the year does not fit. For example, this week is Imbolc, yay spring? No. Its still winter. VERY winter. There are no little flowers poking their heads up nor will they until May maybe April at the earliest. We don’t have “spring” where I live, we have break-up. Break-up is when the ice on the rivers break up, everything melts, and everything is wet and muddy. For about 2 weeks and then BAM its summer! Ok maybe not 2 weeks but it seems like you blink and break-up is over, the snow is gone and summer is here.
Until then it is most definitely winter. So for me Imbolc is not the coming of spring. It has nothing to do with spring. Spring is very far off. However, I live in the land of the midnight sun, or no sun in the winter. The days are getting longer. They are everywhere but when you live somewhere that the minutes gained a day is 6 or 7 it is very noticeable.
Today the sun rose at 9:40am. It was beautiful and I snapped a photo from work. The sun set today at 4:30pm. That is almost normal hours for most places! We are starting to have a civilized amount of sun. That is what Imbolc is for me this year. Fortunately the return of the sun is one of the big parts of Imbolc, so my change is not that different.
My advice for anyone struggling with celebrating the holidays is: if it feels stale or wrong or something is just not right, think about how the holiday corresponds with the seasons where it comes from, and then what your seasons are locally. That might be where the conflict is. I’ve historically had a lot of trouble getting into the holidays and once I decided to calibrate them to my local environment I feel much better about them.
So yes, I change the holidays, but the “letter of the law” regarding holidays is not important to me, it’s the marking of time as the earth goes through its annual cycles.
And that is the beautiful thing about being a pagan. If something doesn’t feel right, well find some way to change it so it does! Not like more strict religious… for an example as a kid it always bugged me the obvious fact that Jesus was not born in the dead of winter. It just doesn’t fit. That part of Christmas never felt right. I would have preferred to figure out when his real birthday was and celebrate that, and leave Christmas to its self. To me those were always separate. I guess that’s why I still don’t have a problem with Christmas. To me its not a Christian holiday.
So to wrap things up, and summarize: The holidays are for marking the passage of time, if the seasonal associations don’t match your local seasons think about what is happening locally and review your definition of the holiday. Revisit, revise, edit. I think you will be much happier when you are celebrating the changes around you.
I will be sure to write about all future holidays and how I celebrate them in the land of the midnight sun.