I'm A Christmeaster, And That's OK

I'm A Christmeaster, And That's OK

God understands... I hope.
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"Christmeaster" - the word itself is enough to send shivers down the spine of any devout Christian mom who religiously (pardon the pun) sends her kids to Sunday school every week or any church leader.

It has the connotation of people who drag their feet through the door on only the holiest days of the Christian calendar - Christmas and Easter - simply to sooth their own conscious about the fact that they hadn't been to church since the last holiday.

The Christmeasters are side-eyed, clearly defined by their darting eyes upon entry into the sanctuary since they have no habitual pew, and welcome committees rush forward with gifts, assuming they are guests, only to be told, confusedly, "Oh, no, we're members. We have been since 2011. Don't you remember us?"

Well, I'm here to take a stand for all of us Christmeasters and say once and for all that there is no sin in coming to church only a twice a year. Sometimes things get in the way - maybe you work on Sunday mornings, or you have Boy Scouts on Sunday mornings, or even that Sundays are the only days you can sleep in and your mental health requires at least ONE full night of sleep per week - and sometimes people just don't want to go more often. Sometimes the kiddos absolutely refuse to go, and you gotta pick your battles. Sometimes (oh, no) you just forget.

Part of having a healthy relationship with God is acceptance of the limitations that He has placed in your life. He has given you obstacles and choices in your life, and He understands that you will choose them over church sometimes because you need them for your own personal growth, or simply just to fulfill a need that He gave to you. He sees your life and He understands what you are going through; He will not let a few absences in His house put up a block between you and Him. In fact, He is proud of you for getting to church on those two days a year that you do -- especially since it would be easy to let other things, like family and/or gift-giving to come in the way of getting there.

He understands that He is easiest to see on these holiest of days -- that is why we celebrate them. He understands that sometimes there will be a distance between you and Him that requires a holiday spirit to fix -- and He loves you anyway because of that. He appreciates every effort you can make to find and connect with Him. Perhaps that is weekly visits to church. Perhaps that is coming on Christmas and Easter. Or perhaps that means not ever going to church and fostering that connection on your own.

So, it's fine. Pull up to church on Christmas in your Santa hats and sit in the back pew where nobody can glare at you. You know your own relationship with God, you know He loves you, and you know it's okay.

Cover Image Credit: Bowman County Pioneer

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What Easter Is Like As A Wiccan

For the majority of people, Easter is the celebration of Christ rising from the dead. But for witches, it's about something very different.
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One thing that can be quite irksome about being a part of the American school/college system is the fact that, for the most part, we are only given time off for holidays recognized by one religion, that being Christianity. I'm not saying these holidays are bad or that Christianity is overrated; far from it. But when you think about the holidays celebrated by Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or, in this case, Pagans, it makes you wonder how everyone else chooses to celebrate their own holidays in the midst of the all-mighty Hallmark-centric holidays.

Before I converted to Wicca, I never quite understood why the majority of Americans chose to celebrate the gory death and alleged resurrection of someone during the spring, much like how we choose to celebrate Christmas in December even though many historians believe Jesus Christ was born around June. Although anyone can celebrate their own holidays for their own reasons, I think its also important to understand where these holidays may have really come from and how other religious holidays can be represented during this Easter weekend.

Instead of celebrating Easter, myself and millions of other people who identify as Pagans celebrate the holiday Ostara. This holiday is mostly celebrated around March 21, but fell on March 20 this year. During this time, Pagans celebrate the Spring Equinox, when winter ends and the bright colors of spring are allowed to come forward for the year -- when "Night and day stand equal, The Sun grows in power and the land begins to bloom and the powers of the gathering year are equal to the darkness of winter and death."

Ostara is one of the eight Pagan Sabbats marked by the Wheel of the Year. Each Sabbat marks a new season, equinox or solstice, which are used to signify the cycle of life, love, death and rebirth between the Mother Goddess (Gaia) and the Father God (also known as the Horned God). With Ostara in particular, it represents a new age of fertility, as the cycle of life and death of the Horned God starts up again.

There are many ways witches and warlocks from the multiple branches of Paganism choose to celebrate Ostara, but the majority of them choose to celebrate the Sabbat of rebirth by basking in the fresh spring flowers. For many, they can choose to have a ritual in their hard garden or simply enjoy the world around them.

You may be wondering, well what does some holiday about spring have to do with Easter? I'm glad you asked! As it turns out, like many other pagan traditions, the Christian religion got a few inspirations from the Pagans, one of them being the beloved Easter Egg.

What the rabbit represents for Ostara is fertility, magic and sexual energy, seeing as the main theme in the Spring Equinox is fertility and sowing seeds. Many believe that both of the holidays' names come from the goddess Eostre, who is sometimes associated with fertility and is loosely connected to both eggs and rabbits. There are also many sources, such as Jacob Grimm (one half of the Brothers Grimm), who believe that the egg is one of the symbols of early Paganism.

So how exactly do Pagans celebrate Easter, considering it's usually a week after Ostara? Well, for many, they just use the holiday to reconnect with family and celebrate some much-needed time off. For me, I just celebrate with food.

Lots and lots of food.

Happy Easter and Merry Ostara everyone!

Cover Image Credit: Lucid Source

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The Notre Dame Cathedral–Such A Loss Of History And Beauty, But What A Gift It Was To Experience It

Reid shares her story as she is saddened for Paris and the church.

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After the massive fire that devastated large parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the 850-year-old cathedral's spire fell. French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation to share in the nation's sorrow but gave hope for the future. This includes the rebuilding of the cathedral together and making it more beautiful than ever. "The fire of Notre Dame reminds us that our story never ends. And that we will always have challenges to overcome. What we believe to be indestructible can also be touched," Macron said.

Tyler Reid

Among many others, Tyler Reid is saddened for Paris and the church. Although, she counts herself blessed to have seen it such a short time before it was destroyed. Reid, who was lucky enough to visit the amazing structure this past spring break, remarked:

My trip was filled with so many wonderful sites. Although, because Notre Dame carries the title of most-visited monument in Europe, my expectations were high. When I first walked up, there isn't one specific feeling I got; instead, it was more of a million thoughts running though my head. Once inside, looking at the massive stained glass windows combined with all the details in every crevice, it was hard for me to imagine people actually building this without the technology we have today. This hand crafted masterpiece really is so influential considering people still went there to worship, even after so much time has past and so many other cathedrals had been built. This proves how special the Notre Dame Cathedral really is. Due to my experience here, hearing about the fire hurt my heart, especially thinking about how some of the irreplaceable artworks and all of this history may be gone. This place truly influenced people, including me, and for it to be gone is a true tragedy.

Like Macron, Reid shares in the sorrow; although, for her, it was just from one visit. This proves the amazing impact the Notre Dame Cathedral had and hopefully will continue to have even after this devastation.

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