So Christmas is coming up and the Pagans start to groan… not only is it seasonally inappropriate in so many ways – the Santa suits in the sun, the blow up snowmen and fake frost covered plastic decorations, the enormous roast dinner in the midday heat – it’s also a materialist, capitalist and consumerist bonanza. So many Pagans, and I’ve found particularly those studying Druidry, are more inclined to a conscious consumerism. We tend to live quite sustainably, we like simplicity, we enjoy simple things, handmade things, or eco-friendly things, and we don’t tend to over consume. The idea of a room filled with plastic laced highly packaged presents makes me feel a bit sick.
There are, however, some things we can do to make a difference, and in the process perhaps help our families and friends understand us and find a way to enjoy the holidays with more depth through simplicity.
I’m not suggesting we try to change everything others around us are getting into. I’ve never had a good response from being unenthused by all the pomp of Christmas decorations. You’re going to have to let people do their thing too, but maybe, when you have chance, by doing things a bit differently you might open some people’s eyes to the potential for something different. Here are some ideas:
How about decorating with things that represent the season for you. Do you live near the beach? Maybe you could use shells to make some decorations for your tree? It can be a fun thing to do with kids and it’s a way of celebrating the time of year as beach time. Don’t live near the beach? How about some banksia seed pods? You can tie ribbons to them. Or some dried native flowers? Choosing red and yellow can be a reminder of the fire aspects of the season. Or make a wreath from natives rather than using a plastic one.
If you’re not keen on a plastic pine tree you could try using a branch, or a potted native tree that you can plant later, or you could decorate a tree in your garden or on your porch or balcony. Having an outdoor tree can be great fun if you have the right kind of space. Maybe Santa could deliver to the balcony?
How about using a collection of scarves and ribbons instead of wrapping paper? You can buy them cheaply from an op shop and either take them back after Christmas, give them along with the gifts, or keep them for next year.
Decorate your table using flowers and greenery from your garden. If you have a native garden there might even be something native in bloom that you could add. If not, you might like to use franjipanis or another flowering plant of the season. Frajipanis and red hibiscus are great flowers that are a lovely colour for the season, and if you live in a cooler climate tea tree blossoms can look lovely, or find something that grows nearby that you can use. They might wilt in the heat, so pop them in some water.
Eat something seasonal. Fish, fruit, salad, fresh garden vegetables. It’s a summer feast! You might feel a bit better for a lighter meal too. Maybe try a fruit salad rather than a plum pudding, or fruit cocktails rather than sweet ports or egg nog. Save those for Yule.
Make something. There are lots of options and it depends on what you like to make and what your skills are, but you can find lots of ideas online. Pinterest is a great way to get ideas. How about some of these:
- Learn a skill like: knitting to make scarves or socks; pottery and make pots and cups; wood burning and make coasters or chopping boards; sewing and make personalized bags; painting and make mini artworks, etc! So many possibilities.
- Use your bardic skills to give a special gift like a poem, a song or a story. Record it on your phone and send it to them, or put it on a USB that they’ll be able to reuse.
- Use your ovate skills to make herbal things. Eg. Bath salts with herbs, loose incense, bath bombs, herbal tea mixes.
- Potted plants. Buy a pack of seeds in the spring and grow some plants from seed that you can then give on as gifts. If you do pottery as well you could make the pots too.
- Cooking – do you make cookies, slices, muffins, bliss balls? Put them in a pretty recyclable jar with a natural ribbon.
You can also buy eco products, sustainable wood products, things made of natural fibers, locally made and fair trade crafts, eco home items like kitchen items or a plastic free lunchbox, consumable items like nice food or drinks with reusable packaging, or even check out your local op shop to see if you can find some vintage treasures. And experiential gifts are always great: offer to go on a camping trip or a hike, to take someone star gazing, or to see a museum or gallery exhibit, maybe a trip to the zoo or to see a musical performance.
These ways of buying for our loved ones can not only save on waste and unnecessary purchasing, they can also be more affordable, however they have a sentimental value that will be more appreciated than anything grabbed randomly off a shelf to satisfy a boxed ticked off your Christmas list.
Perhaps you have more ideas? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
For me, celebrations are also about the seasonal symbols and this time of year has always been about the fire season for me. The fires remind us what is truly important to us – and it’s certainly not stuff. It’s life and our loved ones that matter most to us and this time of year should be about showing how much we care about them, not just through buying more stuff, but by spending quality time together, and taking time to be a part of each other’s lives. I’m pretty sure many of our Christian family members would agree with us that Christmas a good time for sharing a meal, to give when there is a need, to do charitable acts of kindness towards others… These are aspects of the popular holiday we can all enjoy, no matter what our beliefs.
Keeping things simple and heartfelt can add so much while we also take away much of the waste, and hopefully it will help us to find more common ground with those we love too.
All that said, we still have a turkey roast if we go to my parents place, because my mum loves it, and it’s always delicious Mum <3. And I’m trying to have less plastic decorations at our place, but my six year old son is a bit in love with the plastic tree. Changes happen slowly, bit by bit, and year by year, so don’t feel disheartened. Just do what you can to make a difference, and enjoy your time with your loved ones.
I hope you have a wonderful time over the holidays and that this might be helpful for your gift giving experience!
Would you like to learn more about celebrating with the seasons? Australian nature spirituality can be challenging when so many of our popular celebrations are aligned to the seasonal timing of the Northern Hemisphere! In my book Australian Druidry I help you find better ways to understand the seasons where you live through adapting our practice in Druidry to honour the changes happening around us and live a life more connected with nature. You can buy a copy at any good book retailer like Book Depository, or you can get a signed copy with a free art postcard via my jewelry website http://www.forestspiritjewelry.com.