Open Letter to Fox News:
Thing the first: There are eight major holidays in the Wiccan religion. Eight. Not twenty. And they are:
Yule (aka Winter Solstice)
Ostara (aka Spring Equinox)
Litha (aka Midsummer, aka Summer Solstice)
Mabon (aka Fall Equinox)
Some circles also celebrate every full moon, but those eight are the major ones. They correspond to the wheel of the year, and they’re not all that difficult to understand. (And yes, I could in fact name those without looking them up, thank you.)
Thing the second: Every school I’ve ever been to has had a break scheduled around Easter, to allow students to spend that time with their families and celebrating the holiday. Every job I’ve had has also been closed that day. It’s pretty much assumed that on this major Christian holiday, Christians will be given the time they need to celebrate appropriately. Heck, if it’s an office that’s closed on Sundays anyway, the employees will often get an extra day off, right before or right after the holiday!
If I want to celebrate Beltane, arguably one of the two biggest Pagan holidays? I have three options: 1) hope it falls on my day off, 2) ask permission to use some of my limited PTO time for it (with no guarantee that the request will be approved), or 3) call in sick.
The message is pretty clear: my holiday just isn’t as important as a Christian holiday. My faith isn’t taken as seriously as Christians’ faith. I am not respected as much as a Christian is. You argue that it’s “traditional,” but if it’s a tradition to favor one religion over others, then that’s a bad tradition and it should be changed. The fact that non-Christians have been short-changed for years doesn’t mean it’s right to keep doing it.
And now we’re getting news that one school is finally recognizing that other religions besides Christianity have holidays that they might like to celebrate occasionally… and you expect us to be angry about this?? What planet are you living on? What do you want us to do, stand up and furiously insist that they keep ignoring us and disrespecting us and treating us like our sacred days don’t matter? Um. No. No thank you.
This isn’t “politics,” it’s treating people decently.
Thing the third: “Any religion that has Halloween as its most important holiday… I just can’t take it seriously! I mean, call me a bigot…”
Um, ok: you’re a bigot.
You’re also woefully uneducated about your own religion’s history. Before it became known as a night for kids mumping candy while dressed as superheroes, All Hallows’ Eve was the first day of Hallowmas – a fairly important Christian holiday for remembering and honoring the souls of the dead.
And before that – before Christianity came to the British Isles and co-opted Pagan holidays and Pagan gods – it was the Celtic holiday of Samhain, when the boundary between our world and the afterlife was believed to be the thinnest, and the souls of the dead were welcomed and feasted by their families.
So when modern Pagans celebrate Samhain, remembering our loved ones who have passed on (a ritual which can often be quite personal and quite painful), we’re not just pulling this out of thin air. We didn’t just pick a day and go “huh, Halloween, that’s a fun night, let’s make that a major holiday! Whee, candy and costumes!” There’s actually a lot of history behind the holiday, both in Christianity and in the Celtic practices that much of Wicca derives from. To suggest otherwise doesn’t just make you look like a bigot (for demeaning a holiday you don’t understand), it makes you look like an ignorant bigot (for not understanding it in the first place.)
That is all.