Witches and Christmas
by Ciel Luciole
Whether you are new to Witchcraft and Paganism or have been at it more years than you care to admit (cough cough), the Winter holidays can be a challenging time for witches on many fronts. The holiday season is one of the most stressful (and by association, depressing) times of year anyway, but when you find yourself straddling two holidays, or trying to celebrate your own holiday amidst all the “Put the Christ back in Christmas” bruhaha, it can be hard to feel particularly festive. Especially if you’re the type that really likes to get her witch on on the regular. Solstice/Christmas can be a magical time filled with enchantment, but it doesn’t really have a lot to do with witches…on the surface, anyway.
We all know Christmas was ripped off from the Pagans. From the evergreen boughs, to the Christmas tree, to the mistletoe, the various pagan Solstice traditions that were appropriated for Christmas are countless. It’s pretty common knowledge and is a favorite topic in the pagan community this time of year. But for all that there isn’t a lot of mention of witches this time of year, at least not in our modern celebrations. Druids get mentioned a lot when the usual articles about the origins of Christmas get their yearly dust offs, but Solstice/Christmas is not just for Druids! Oh no, Witches have their place in the festivities as well, and not just in a desperate bid to hang on to Halloween! Many cultures have folklore and legends of a “Christmas Witch”.
The most well-known (and most benevolent) is likely that of La Befana in Italian folklore. It was said that La Befana rode a broomstick through the air and delivered presents and candy to good children on Epiphany Eve (January 6th).
Grýla and her Yule Lads are probably the most gruesome. Grýla was an ogress that lived in an ice cave. It was said she would arrive with bag on her back and a sword in her hand to carve out the stomachs of the children and her Yule Lads (trolls in most legends) would torment the children in the days leading up to Christmas.
Frau Perchta comes from Austrian and German folklore. She wasn’t exactly light and fluffy either. It was said she would go from house to house during the 12 Days of Christmas and would become angry if women had not finished spinning their flax by Twelfth Night. If she decided you had behaved the previous year, she would leave a silver coin in your shoe. If not, she would also disembowel you and stuff you with straw and rocks. I’m starting to sense a theme here.
Almost identical in nature to Frau Perchta is the gyre-carling in Scotland. She also gets a bit testy if women have not finished spinning their flax by Twelfth Night but would only beat you with an iron club. She was an old softy, that one.
There are also many superstitions about witches surrounding Christmas. On Christmas Eve in Norway, it is tradition for families to hide the brooms and mops so when the witches take to the sky that night (as you do) they can’t steal the brooms. An Italian American tradition says that any woman born at midnight on Christmas Eve is destined to become a witch and in certain parts of Slovakia they sprinkle their homes with water on Christmas Eve to protect it from witches in the year to come (okay, that one isn’t as much fun).
Not all of the examples are the warm and fuzzy type, true, but they are proof that Witches, their legends, and yes, their superstitions too, have been woven throughout the tapestry of Christmas traditions for ages. They have just been overshadowed by Santa, his Elves, Krampus, Jesus, etc. So, whether you celebrate Solstice/Yule, Christmas, or both (we’re modern witches, we do what we want), or something else entirely, feel free to dust off your pointy hat and create some new Christmas Witch traditions.
Today's Music: The Christians and The Pagans
Submitted by River Eno
Today's Recipe: Autumn's Sweet Potato Streusel
with Autumn Earthsong
It’s nice to be back doing a recipe for Siren’s. This time a Yule celebration. I had a hard time coming up with a recipe I thought everyone would like. I had thought about everything from spiced wine to red velvet cake. But after much thought, I decided to give you all the one that I’m known for this time of year. I can’t go to any dinner celebration over the holidays without taking my Sweet Potato Streusel. Now there’s nothing healthy about this casserole. It’s sweet enough that many save it for dessert after the meal. It’s amazing with all the holiday dinner trimmings. It takes a bit of work but well worth it…Give it a try!
- 5-6 large baking sweet potatoes, baked in skins for 1 hour. Need approximately 4 cups cooked.
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1 stick melted butter
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp cinnamon
Mix all ingredients with an electric beater til blended on low. Pour into a 9x13” greased baking dish.
Bake at 350* for 25 minutes.
While it’s baking make your streusel topping:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ sticks butter, softened
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Mix well until crumbly.
Remove potato mixture from oven. Sprinkle streusel over baked potatoes.
Return to oven for 20-25 more minutes.
Again, this is so sweet and so good and it can double as dessert! Enjoy!
Today's Giveaway: Wardruna's New Album: Skald
Giveaways sponsored by Alexis Kennedy, Bonesongs.com
Description: If you've never heard of Wardruna and you love Pagan/Heathen music, then you are totally missing out! This band is amazing, and will take you to places, both emotional and spiritual, that you've never before explored. If you want a sneak preview of their work, please head to their site:
The newest album, Skald, was just released.
The pricing is as follows (winner's choice, USD):
Since I am ordering from Amazon (no judgments, please), I can have this sent anywhere in the world, so everyone is invited to enter!
Answer this question:
In what location does Christmas come before Yule?
All correct answers in the comments will be accepted. Please be sure your email address is either placed in your comment, or that you have completed the Sirens Winter Solstice Participation Form to keep your email private. We do not use your information for anything other than notification and to ship out your prize.
If you do not submit your email address in either of these ways, you will not be eligible for the prize or for the grand prize giveaway.
Winner is assigned a number via spreadsheet and is selected via random.org. The sponsor (Alexis Kennedy) is the one who provides this service, and is not eligible for giveaways.
We will announce the winner in tomorrow's blog post. All entries are eligible for the grand prize giveaway, announced on December 21.
We'll see you tomorrow for more Yule fun!