Tag: Tradition

Pique the Geek 20111225: Pagan Christmas Traditions

Christendom, like other religions before it, assimilated former religions to forge its own traditions.  This is very much the rule rather than the exception when a new religion begins to dominate an older one.  It is easier to get people to come to your point of view if do not change things too much.

There are a number of pagan traditions that were assimilated into the Christmas tradition, and not all of them were done simultaneously.  For example, the Yule log is much  more recent than celebrating Christmas on 25 December (and that date is not universal, by the way).  Let us look as some of our customs that are not Christian at all.


the patron of workers, fathers, carpenters.  Myself I call him the patron saint of little old ladies who have old houses.  A saint barely mentioned in the New Testament but remembered richly and deeply in the tradition of the Church.

Many people made me – carefully and with precision.  That I may have disappointed their hopes for me has naught to do with them – we all live in the world which often crushes us.  And in the long run, I’ve turned out well – okay.

Those people – my maternal grandmother, my mother, my aunts, my youth’s closest friend all had devotions to St. Joseph – thus so do I.  My mother had a framed photo of him in our kitchen – and often spoke out loud to him during the day – thus so do I.  My friend had a statue of him in her home and at her wedding put her bouquet in front of his statue instead of the Blessed Mother – quite the stir in church.  I try to keep fresh flowers before his picture (it was my mother’s) during the summer and Fall and also take roses from my garden to his statue in Church.  My son was born in St. Joseph’s Hospital.

One of my favorite St. Joseph stories is a Garrison Keilor one.  Jesus said to Joseph:  I don’t have to listen to you – you’re not my father.

On this date, Italians have a St. Joseph table.  My Aunt Tee always had one full of really good food – no process stuff and good wine.  Now, I think:  how did she afford it – it’s not easy to have parties now or then.  But she found the money – and anyone who wanted to come came – door open all day.  God rest her soul.  I grew up in Little Italy in Chicago – there was a gentle sort of competition amongst the Irish (St. Paddy’s Day) and the Italians (St. Joseph) as to celebration in the City.

I have studied theological theory and understand that many people consider hagiography a superstition.  It is what it is – but I have an obligation to my family and my traditions.  More importantly, I believe in my own way.  I’m off to purchase Zeppolini, a traditional pastry for the Feast Day.  And I think I’ll have a day off from blogging and worrying and fretting and being angry – and just let the good Saint protect me as I go about my garden work.  This short diary is a thank you to him.  We are both of us among friends here.

So to all on Docudharma – Happy Saint Joseph’s Day.  A man pictured as old with a beard and a lilly (we get the Church’s politics).  Now his image is more of a young, handsome strong man who transcends the politics of the Church and represents a good man who worked hard to keep his family safe during difficult times (as all times are) and who cherished his wife and son.