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Austin Cline

Book of the Week: A Solstice Tree for Jenny

By December 9, 2013

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A Solstice Tree for Jenny
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Christmas has worked its way into all aspects of American culture. Everywhere you go, you can find Christmas greetings, Christmas decorations, Christmas displays, Christmas advertisements and more. People everywhere experience social and cultural pressures to "conform" and adopt this traditionally Christian holiday as their own, regardless of what their actual religious or cultural beliefs are. How does a secular, non-religious family cope with the political, religious, and consumer pressures?

Book of the Week: A Solstice Tree for Jenny

Comments
December 3, 2007 at 11:17 am
(1) Eric says:

Interesting. My wife is pagan and we intend on raising our children as such. It sounds like this book is just outside of being appropriate for teaching children the pagan meaning of Solstice.

December 4, 2007 at 6:50 am
(2) tracieh says:

What I find interesting is the problem of raising secular kids around the time of the Christmas holiday. I was raised Xian, but our church did not condone celebrating Xmas. On every religious holiday, we were sure to get a sermon on why that holiday was unscriptural and not endorsed by god or the Bible.

Some families celebrated it not at all, due to the pagan roots. Some celebrated it as a purely secular event. Luckily for me, my family celebrated secularly. I loved the candy and toys as a kid, and the lights and all the fun looking stuff and cartoon specials. But it was always made abundantly clear to me–as far back as I can recall–that “Some Xians celebrate it for X religious meaning–but that’s simply not supported by god or the Bible.”

So, I was totally grounded in the idea that it was a secular holiday–while living in a religious home, and celebrating it with the tree and the stockings and the whole nine yards. Now, there was no nativity in our yard or anything that we considered as religious. Yes, we had the star topper–but it was just ‘decor’ in our heads and we did not give it the symbolic meaning of anything but a pretty start topper for our holiday tree.

I wonder if some parents aren’t overly concerned by the religious implications others put on the holiday and over-worried about the potential effects on their kids. I don’t mean to say their concerns aren’t or can’t be valid. I’m just recalling that as a child, I was able to grasp that “this group over here grants this day religious significance, but that’s just them. That’s not me/us.”

I think maybe kids are brighter than we sometimes are willing to give them credit for. But maybe someone with a more religious background regarding the holiday comes at it from a different perspective than I can. But if that’s the case, just let me offer my input and experience to say that your kids really can understand secular vs. religious–even if you celebrate “Christmas” directly.

I think I posted here before that if I were in India during a religious festival, and I were asked to participate, I probably would enjoy it. I would be totally aware of the religious nature of the event–but to me it would just be a cultural thing, not religious. And I’d have no problem with it.

One of the wonderful things about becoming an atheist was the freedom to not have to worry about “meanings” of events and symbols. They don’t have to mean anything to me just because they mean something to someone else. As a Xian, I would have never participated in a Hindu ceremony–because of what god might think or what other Xians might think. It was pagan and wrong and sinful. I’m glad to be rid of superstitious fears. And I have no intention of ever going back.

December 5, 2007 at 7:40 am
(3) tracieh says:

Where I said: “Yes, we had the star topper”

I actually got to thinking of that last night, and I don’t think we had a star. I think we had one of those Turkish looking spikes that comes up from the top of the tree–like an inverted knife with a ball for a base. I don’t know what they’re called…?

December 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm
(4) Karen Shragg says:

Hi thanks so much for choosing my book as your book of the week.

I am still very proud of it. We just had a storytelling on it in the Twin Cities where I live,

Thanks so much, Karen

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