Christmas Wars + Veteran Pentacle Quest = Editorial Goldmine

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 11, 2006 — 3 Comments

Getting an advanced college degree must be good for something, just look at how Mary Zeiss Stange, professor of women’s studies and religion at Skidmore College, and a contributer to USA Today managed to tie the Christmas Wars and two Pagan-related stories into one editorial! It seems to be yet another rote editorial on the “controversy” over stores saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” until it becomes all about Paganism.

“Gone are the days when folks who worried about rampant materialism cautioned that it was time to “put Christ back into Christmas.” Now it’s time to put Christ back into Kmart. And so, as Wal-Mart spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone has bravely proclaimed, “This year, we’re not afraid to say ‘Merry Christmas.’”…Of course, if you are a Jew celebrating Hanukkah, or a Muslim marking Eid al-Fitr, or a neo-pagan Wiccan for whom the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) is a major observance, you probably had appreciated the more inclusive acknowledgment that the end of the year is a festive time for you, too. Indeed, particularly if you are Wiccan, the matter of being un-included this holiday season must especially sting. A group of Wiccan families is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs for the right to bury their fallen heroes in military cemeteries in graves marked with a pentacle, the five-pointed star that symbolizes their religion, much as a cross does Christianity or a Star of David, Judaism.”

Did you see that? She managed to dis crass consumerism tainting the Christian holiday, remind people that non-Christians really do live and work in America, and then point out how modern Pagans are getting metaphorical coal in their stockings courtesy of the Veteran’s Administration. Strange tops off this editorial concoction with the “cherry” of ancient pagan elements still present in modern Christmas celebrations.

“For Christmas is, in its origins and its symbolism, perhaps the most pagan-inspired of all Christian holidays. Its dating derives from the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which was determined by the winter solstice, that astronomical point in the year after which the periods of sunlight on Earth lengthen…These pagan-derived symbols and customs are precisely the elements of Christmas that Christian activists are pressing to preserve and promote, in venues such as Target and Macy’s.”

How to close such a editorial? Why with the hope for peace (and justice) on earth and goodwill towards mankind (and womankind) of course.

“…nothing could be more in keeping with the “Christmas spirit” than to embrace and celebrate religious diversity. And nothing could be truer to the spirit of the First Amendment than to honor American war dead as they and their loved ones would wish. No single group of self-proclaimed Christians holds a premium on the meaning of this magical season. And no government agency should decide what “qualifies” as an appropriate religious symbol. And so, no offense intended, but season’s greetings.”

That is how you write an editorial on subject(s) that have been covered to death and keep it fresh. Pagan editorialists take note. Oh, and season’s greetings.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • Chas S. Clifton

    And be sure to read her book, which upset some “essentialist” feminists no end, coming as it did from a women’s studies professor.

  • Navillus

    I just found your blog through a google search. Lots of interesting material, I’m looking forward to checking it out more thoroughly.Pagans and Humanists are perpetually the bastard stepchildren of the philosophical/spiritual family.I just commented to someone earlier today who was talking about cults that Christianity was a cult on the beginning and that they borrowed many of their festivals and rituals from the pagans (Saturnalia and Mithras) to mainstream themselves and make themselves less culty.I think the Wiccan family finally did win that case against the VA.Looking forward to reading more.

  • Jason

    Navillus, Thanks for reading, I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog. I did want to clarify one point you mention.”I think the Wiccan family finally did win that case against the VA.”The state of Arizona decided they had the jurisdiction to do so and gave Patrick Stewart a Pentacle on his marker, but the Pentacle still isn’t considered an approved symbol to be put on military gravestones and markers. So the battle rages on (in court).