A Very Pagan Holidays
I look forward to my daily morning ritual-laptop open, browsing the news, while sipping a steaming hot cup of coffee. As Christmas nears, I expect to see endless pop-up ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Christmas-themed stories/movies, and/or any holiday-related news releases. What I don’t expect to see is today’s CNN headline, which made me gasp with horror. “AMAZON PULLS CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS SHOWING AUSCHWITZ CONCENTRATION CAMP!”
Aghast and revolted, I nevertheless continued to read.
"PICTURES OF THE NAZI DEATH CAMP COMPLEX WERE USED ON A VARIETY OF TREE ORNAMENTS, A MOUSE PAD, AND A BOTTLE OPENER…IMAGES USED SHOWED THE TRAIN TRACKS LEADING TO THE ENTRANCE OF AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU AND A NUMBER OF SCENES INSIDE THE CAMPS, WHERE AROUND 1 MILLION JEWISH PEOPLE ARE ESTIMATED TO HAVE BEEN KILLED DURING WORLD WAR II. SCORES OF COMMENTERS EXPRESSED OUTRAGE, WITH SEVERAL SAYING THEY HAD CONTACTED AMAZON ABOUT THE NAZI-LINKED ITEMS."
Auschwitz-Birkenau has been etched into our collective minds as the site of the “Jewish Final Solution.” The “Solution” also included the eradication of Communists, Social Democrats, political opponents, homosexuals (or today's LGBT community), dissenting clergy, and artists whose works Hitler condemned. The camp actually served a dual purpose. Auschwitz I was the main camp, while Auschwitz II-Birkenau, served as a concentration and extermination camp.
To say the least, CNN’s report was incredibly and deeply disturbing on so many levels. Yet, hopefully, it will remind us that Christmas originated from Pagan traditions, which respect the sacred interconnection of all beings. Pagan derives from the Latin word Paganus, meaning rural or rustic. The term paganism was first used by the Roman Empire in the fourth century. Today, it is most commonly defined as “A person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.
Interestingly, and perhaps hypocritically, the Nazis did their best to eradicate Christmas/Christian celebrations. In the eyes of the Nazi’s, Jesus was a Jew; thus, his birth-date could not be acknowledged nor celebrated. Instead, Nazi's emphasized early Germanic pagan celebrations. Historically, German Christmas is rooted in Pagan traditions. Centuries ago, Germanic tribes celebrated the Yule Solstice (or winter solstice). Candles and fires were lit. Evergreens were brought into homes symbolizing longer days, shorter nights, and the coming of spring. Today's Yule log and Yule singing originate from ancient Germanic pagan Yule traditions.
The heart of Paganism lays in recognizing and embracing the divine in nature, humanity, and the universe. The Nazi’s attempt to resurrect Germanic Pagan tradition ultimately failed. An ideology rooted in such hatred and racism defies Pagan ideals of tolerance, acceptance, and the sacredness of life.
I have thought long and hard about publishing this blog, wondering if it sounds too editorial-ish. I try to avoid writing about religion or politics at all costs. After all, these are the two “hot" and to be avoided at all cost topics”. Additionally, our blog is devoted to extraordinary experiences and is spiritually, rather than dogmatically based. Yet, spiritually-based individuals (as much as HUMANLY possible) are accepting and non-exclusionary. As such, we believe all beings are interconnected and part of the very fabric of the universe. Compassion and tolerance are our motto.
As the Dalai Lama states:
…”We must have great compassion – caring about the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it. Love, compassion, and tolerance are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." (From "Love, Compassion and Tolerance" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama,1990, New World Library).
During this Christmas Season, let’s try to remember its original Pagan roots, which advocate harmony, acceptance, and emphasize the sacredness and divinity of all living things. These are the values we must strive for not only during the holiday season, but every day. Without them, we can expect continued similar and horrifying news stories.
In regards to the aforementioned CNN headlines, an Amazon spokesperson told CNN Business: “ALL SELLERS MUST FOLLOW OUR SELLING GUIDELINES AND THOSE WHO DO NOT WILL BE SUBJECT TO ACTION, INCLUDING REMOVAL OF THEIR ACCOUNT. THE PRODUCTS IS QUESTION HAVE BEEN REMOVED.”