Celebrating Faith

December 22, 2008

Author: Victoria Handysides

Source: Metro


Hundreds gathered at city hall yesterday afternoon to celebrate the holiday season through pagan ritualistic chanting and calling to the four corners of the universe.

Winter solstice celebrations are among many alternatives that replace conventional Christmas traditions for thousands of Edmontonians.

“It’s a celebration of darkness, and a return of the light,” said Westwood Unitarian Church spokeswoman Sara McEwan.

Solstice is a pagan observation on the shortest day of the year. The holiday represents hope and new beginnings with the return of sunlit days. Pagans honour solstice with two days of parties, family gatherings, chanting and bonfires.

“We think of it as an alternative and a different perspective on what this time of year means,” McEwan said. “It has great meaning to those that care about the earth.”

Though accessorized in a smattering of red and green, city hall serves as a venue for showcasing various cultural traditions around the holiday season.

The Celebrating Our Faiths initiative is a recent step taken by the city to make space for the observation of non-Christian religious dates and traditions.