Why I No Longer Celebrate Christmas!

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Christmas fever is widespread as the orgy of spending takes hold.

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Ordinarily sane people are in-debting themselves to a year ahead of pay-back as they tread wearily around shops filled with Chinese imports!

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Some years ago I made a decision to opt out of mainstream.

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I had come to the conclusion that much of what I lived by was the result of not questioning, but merely going along with everyone else.

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Now, I must point out that once one begins to question the status quo, all sorts of issues raise their Medusa-like heads…religion, education, government, consumerism, et al! www.bealtainecottage.com 014

Every aspect of how I lived, and what moved me, was called to the fore of my interrogation.

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In much the same way as I gave up eating meat, smoking and spending our civilisation out of recession, I gave up Christmas.

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Christmas became something older and gentler for me…it morphed into Midwinter.


I say “morphed” because there are aspects of Christmas I continue to appreciate, such as gift-giving.

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These are not the small-mortgage gifts however, but gifts of warmth and food and home-made trinkets.

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Midwinter lasts longer too, for this is the time of Yule.

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Yule marks the rebirth of the sun.
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It is a potent symbol of death and rebirth – going from the darkness into the light.
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Yule starts before the Solstice and continues on until New Year’s Day.


There’s no rush, no crazy dash for the check-out.


Yule is a time and a time that makes sense to me.


An Irish Christmas Blessing

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you.


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  1. Our family is also not into the whole consumer-terror anymore, so we decided to celebrate winter solstice or midwinter. We make a lot of stuff, be it handcrafted or cooked and preserved. Hubby even found that he has a knack for making different wines, so he is always making wonderful wines and punches and ciders for Yule/Midwinter time. And when other celebrate their more traditional Christmas our house is always open for those who just want to flee that whole consumerism and madness. We then sit around our yule log either inside or in our courtyard with good spirits in our cups and just enjoy the silence and hopefully the snow. Throughout the season up till 6th January we exchange little handcrafted gifts, or just ornaments made from natural things with all of our friends and acquaintances and a lot of ppl who do not share our way of living have come to appreciate it (esp. the jams and preserves I’m making and gifting to ppl).
    Tonight, we will be meeting up at a friend’s house and everyone invited brings something to eat and drink. Ours will be beans and potatoes from the garden and mulled wine from my hubby’s stash. 🙂 Much nicer, much slower and more fun.

    • I was talking to various people about how they celebrate and it seems that many more than what I had imagined are quietly dropping out of the corporate madness and celebrating in similar ways to yourself and many more of us. I agree, it is much, much nicer!

  2. Ah… i’ve so much sympathy for China… such a sad reputation for merely trying to fulfill the world’s materialistic cravings and at such cost to their people and their environment. China is more than capable of providing quality goods, but most consumers and import-wholesalers are unwilling to pay the costs of such. I am so fully culpable, having, in the past, purchased cheap goods for mere instant gratification which can leave one so sheepish, and disquieted. <3

    • I’m in the midst of planning my Midwinter Feast on the 21st…a time to cook and provide for family and friends. Gift-giving is an essential part of the celebrations…and thankfully a much longer time to celebrate too.

  3. I too have given up my traditional Christmas celebration. I find pleasure in helping those in need when and where I can throughout the year rather then gifting at one time each year. I am not rich financially but feel so rich in my long learned appreciation of our beautiful earth and how it supports our life and health. I am feel blessed to be guided by the Creator and my ancestors…for this I celebrate.

  4. I love your website and regular updates! Stepping back from consumerism, especially at Christmas, is difficult but definitely worth it. Thank you for all that you do!

  5. Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year but the festival has disappeared as a religious feast except for those who are still Catholic like myself. Advent seems to be a mystery to most people and when I tell people that the Christmas season runs from the 25th of December till February 2nd (Candlemas) I get very strange looks! My daughter has made presents of jewellery and lavender bags for most of her friends and our friends get jam or pickle! I can’t think of a nicer way to celebrate the feast! Hope you have a good Christmas.

  6. It does take stepping back to get some perspective on the silly corporatization of Christmas (not to mention the silly corporatization everything else). I hear more and more thoughtful people say they want to do homesteading and am hoping that means that more and more people are questioning things and finding a better way. Happy Yule to you!

  7. I resonate by nature with what you say, Colette. and i am always plagued by a vague feeling of guilt at this time of the year for all the reasons you say.

    Yet at the other hand for me it went along with this kind of sad feeling, saying goodbye to the old world where i grew up so safely…

    These days i feel like i’m standing on the edge of this world (of separation) and something far greater (real unity), and it feels strange to say it but sometimes it hurts. I feel like i’m leaving so many people behind, not physically though and not with my heart, but on another more subconcious level… Isn’t it strange to feel guilt and sadness when you untangle yourself from conditioning? Maybe It’s the silent wish i could take everyone with me..

    Thank you for your warmhearted bessings!
    Much love and your blessings returned,

    • It is as you describe Ann…and what I felt some years ago now. The sadness in letting go is very real indeed and not to be under-estimated. This will pass as we begin to reclaim our free thought and paths.
      Blessings XXX

  8. i am going to write the above blessing on my christmas cards, it’s beautiful.
    i celebrate bits of christmas, keeping it simple, st. nicholas day (am part dutch) and winter solstice and yule/jul (are they the same thing? – am part Norwegian), also the irish little christmas (am part irish 🙂 lovely post, colette.

    warmest seasonal wishes x


  9. Hi everyone

    If you do feel the need to buy something – and I suppose this applies to everything, not just presents – you should know where your money is going. Your money should stay as local as possible. In practice, ‘local’ is extremely flexible.

    An example of the very local: there are many well-known Irish brand names where the product is made outside Ireland, the owners likewise being outside Ireland. There is always a true Irish alternative.

    An example of the not-so-local: many manufacturers of household electrical goods (in Europe especially) have links to the arms industry.

    Educate yourself and your friends as to where exactly your money ends up.


  10. Thank you so much for this Colette – and for all of your posts and wisdom (and hard work!). Like so many others, I am living the busy achievement-focused urban life (in my case in London, which I see you know well) – and then plugging into your beautiful pictures and trying to spend a little time with each one to soak up the serenity and wonder….

    I am trying to pluck up the courage to avoid, if not completely give up, Christmas this year. I too come from an old Irish family and there’s the expectation that we all get together…. but funny how it takes longer each year for someone to crack & offer to host it! I think it’s run its course, but we don’t seem to be able to give up. Are we doing it for the children (well, maybe, they’re quite grown up now)? or just not daring to question.

    Anyway…. I’m searching now for somewhere to go on my own for 2 weeks to find some sense of solstice appreciation! I wondered if anyone on this lovely community you’ve pulled together might have any ideas or inspiration for me?

    thanks so much & keep up the love.

    • Questioning can be a hard road to embark upon as invariably the answers can cause discomfort…but to evolve we must question and make our own journey. I applaud you as you do this!
      I hope you find some positive responses to your quest for sanctuary!
      If you don’t, then spend time walking on some of the ancient and beautiful parks in London. Hampstead Heath and Highgate Woods are inspirational, with some gorgeous places to enjoy tea and cake! Whatever you do, just take time to immerse yourself in this ancient festival!
      Blessings XXX

  11. I’m called a scrooge for feeling off this time of year. I hate all the hoolabaloo and people trying to one up one another by buying better gifts. I live in a small town and so the drive to keep up is everywhere. I dream of one day not having to give any of this a second thought even. But I will be celebrating in my own way what I believe Christmas is about, Christ birth! I love your outlook of this season and your beautiful pictures. If I ever get brave enough to get on a plane I’ve always said I’d love to go to Ireland. I have deep Irish/Scottish roots and would love to see my ancestors homeland.

  12. There is nothing better at Midwinter than being with friends by the fireside, sharing something wholesome from the harvest.
    Since my mother died, years ago now, I have let go of all pretense and obligation for this misused holiday, and have done as my heart commanded: spent time with friends with simple pleasures.

    Thank you for the Christmas Blessing.

  13. For some poor people, one of the greatest things you can do for your child is to (over)spend at Christmas. We can understand that life under poverty causes certain choices that may not be wise, but which – in some ways, for some people – fill a need. The stark truth is that there are those for which buying at Christmas is something really special, and it’s not about the sense of it. It’s just the way it is for some people. We want a world like your beautiful, miraculous Bealtaine. I so want us all to move towards this, towards permaculture, towards all you write about. I am passionate about it, too. At the same time, we cannot know the motivations of others. I love Christmas, because my mother made it so special for us all. But it wasn’t to do with money, and we didn’t overspend. It was a really special time in my family when we got together and exchanged gifts. I miss it. We don’t have it anymore. It was really special. – I live in the South, in the U.S. The county I live in has a huge percentage of poor people. I grew up around poor people. People do overspend. And it’s a lot of money, and it’s debt no one needs. But some people are comfortable with some debt. Some debt can be properly managed. Also, some people save their money to buy things for their kids or others. I can’t see judging them or criticizing them because they choose ways that are so different from mine. – Because I don’t want to be judged. – The South is a lot about judgmentalness, snobbishness, excluding. I grew up in this culture. And I don’t like this part of it. I know that if I don’t want others judging me, then I can’t judge others. Yes, there are people who spend a lot on Christmas. But not everyone is avaricious about it. – That aside, my sister, I am like you. I don’t participate in expectation-loaded, cultural live-up-to-ness, want-want-want. In fact, I actually celebrate Winter Solstice. I have the Goddess of Willendorf in with the baby Jesus. It’s all about the Earth. In years past, I made my Christmases very special for my family. I organized and planned it for the entire year! I saved and planned and “shopped around.” It was the most fun. – I don’t do it anymore, but I think I would again. – In the end, all we can do is our best. – Those who can, will get off the debt wheel. — Examples like you, Colette, give people a vision. And people like us can create change. We have so much love to give, I know it makes a difference! You are a great blessing. Peace and Love, Mari Braveheart-Dances.

    • Food for thought and I thank you for it! The corporate takeover of this most ancient festival must be challenged.thanks for taking time to write of your own experiences…i loved reading them.
      Blessings X

      • My dear sister, I am honored by your response. I agree wholeheartedly with you – I think by inserting our love of the earth holidays, holy days, by living with our love for the Earth at our core – we can help others see there is another way. I’m deeply grateful to you for your work. Blessings to you as well, Mari

  14. A few years ago, I too began questing, and read a book by Juliette Batten called “Celebrating the Southern Seasons” which led me on a journey similar to yours…I read your email articles as soon as they arrive…the photos give me peace and inspiration…for various reasons my life is chaotic and challenging (and urban) but if I take a moment to truly look into your photos/garden it gives me medatitive peace…never underestimate your value…blessings…with love…a woman from New Zealand who has, through you, a love tie to Ireland and yourself and your beautiful little animals and your priceless gem of an environment (which, I know, is achieved by a lot of hard work…and love). Your mid winter gift to me is your “Bealtain Cottage”. A friend of mine, who lives singly and has a small urban garden set up like yours, put me onto the blog. Five or so years ago, one of my sons was working at Trinity College as a research assistant for a year and invited me over to see him, and Ireland, one Christmas…it was one of the years that it snowed in Dublin on Christmas day…that little visit to your country was the highlight of my life…and I particularly remember the dark mid winter evenings and the Robins. Love your photos of the Robins. We don’t have them in this part of the world…now the poem and the “white Christmas” on cards makes much more sense to me. Yours sincerely, Ruth Miller Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2014 19:33:49 +0000 To: ruth_miller01@hotmail.com

  15. And many happy returns to you too Colette! A lovely post as always. I’m really enjoying the winter photography and the snowy background of the blog page. You capture the cold beauty of the outdoors and cozy warmth of the indoors so well. I have stopped sleepwalking through Christmas & have been trying to use it as a time to really “be” with people and share nice moments. That’s what warms the heart more than any cheap commercial aspect of Christmas could ever achieve. More power to you for spreading more words of wisdom. Happy Yule 🙂

  16. The gift of giving a present made with love by caring hands is worth more than money can buy; the gift of your words is a bright star shining in the chaos of modern life… Long may it be so.

    Thank you

  17. “Now, I must point out that once one begins to question the status quo, all sorts of issues raise their Medusa-like heads…religion, education, government, consumerism, et al!”

    I completely agree with you, I’m going through this myself. I’m aspiring to live as you do but have a long way to go. The journey through questioning much of what has been taken as just ‘how things are’ is fascinating and I’m finding it’s leading to a much more fulfilling life.
    Wishing you a serene Yule x

      • I appreciate your honest words and quiet wisdom – one with the land. I live in eastern Connecticut, where, as a kid, I remember several inches to a foot of snow on the ground by Yule. Yet the weather has changed dramatically due to human factors. When I was a baby, my Lakota great-grandfather strapped me in a back carrier, snow-shoed to a high point, and greeted the Midwinter sunrise. It was a very simple ritual, but both profound and loving at the same time. I attempt to live a quiet life as well; it suits me. Many Yuletide blessings to you!

        • the image of your grandfather and yourself as a baby, greeting the midwinter sunrise, took my breath away.

          warm blessing

          • Thank you, Cicely, for your comment. I come from an eclectic heritage. My father is French-Canadian, Lakota, and Danish, my mother Scots-Irish and German. My maternal Scots-Irish grandmother and paternal Lakota great-grandfather taught me a lot. They blazed their own trails; thus, I have followed suit, taking heart in simple pleasures and wild hearth-style living. Warm blessings to you as well.

    • I can relate to your journey. I have walked this road for awhile, but I am always questioning – much to the chagrin of a few status-quo family members. But I am happier living this way. In the end, that is what matters.

Your comments are welcome!