Monday, 23 December 2019

The Pagan Origins of Christmas Customs

The great thing about pagan origins is that there's always more to "discover". And at this most wonderful time of the year, it's always good to find some more.
In the week before Christmas, all British people take a bull terrier to Wetherspoons

Christmas Hyacinths

The British like to buy bowls of hyacinth bulbs in August, which they gently try to coax into flower at Christmas. When they eventually do bloom in January, the people of the household cry out: "What's that terrible smell? For goodness' sake get them in the garden" and then throw the bowls outside.


Although the Norse and Saxon peoples believed that Odin was the great gift-giver, the Beaker Folk adopted the Greek belief in the god Hermes. Unfortunately due to a misunderstanding, they believed that the messenger god was in fact the god of throwing parcels over fences. To this day, British children look in dustbins, on garage roofs, in trees and behind gates to find out where Hermes has left this year's presents.

Elf on the Shelf

One of Hermes' assistants is believed to be a very lazy elf. Instead of being out hiding presents like Hermes' other elves, he sits on the shelf and makes everybody hate him.


Blair is a strange creature of mixed fortune. While said to bring success to those that adopt him, he curses those those that reject him with eternal failure - which they blame him for. Like a European equivalent of the squonk, he leaves a trail of tears behind him as he flies around the world on his jet.

Breaking the Transport System

At the time of year when British people like to go and visit relatives, they prepare by digging up all the railway lines and flooding the roads. It is believed this is an ancient memory of when the  fens were underwater and the East Anglians clung to trees on the few scraps of land and shouted to their relatives that they'd see them in the summer when things were less hectic.

The Corbyn

Another gift-giving creature, those that believe in him say he travels the world sitting on the floor of his magical train, promising wonderful gifts that never materialise and then blaming the lack of gifts on  Blair. He may have the same mythical origins as Hermes.

Fairytale  of New York

A traditional Celtic ballad which is believed to pre-date Shane MacGowan's teeth. It is discovered each year that a song about two unpleasant losers shouting insults at each other is simultaneously not very nice, and the most Christmassy thing possible. Some people make instrumental versions of the song, to keep the Christmassy feel  but without the nastiness. That this is not a crime carrying a long prison sentence is a constant source of wonder.


In many houses in the Liverpool area, Klopp is seen as a wise man from the East who performs miracles, brings many gifts and is generally wonderful. Unless Liverpool blow up in the second half of the season.

Killing the Poinsettia

It is said that the Poinsettia gets its colour from the blood of Captain Cook when he was killed on Hawaii. In revenge, British people kill a Poinsettia every year, and then act like it was unintentional.

The Unbelieving Vicar

Each Christmas, a member of clergy in England is elected to deny the Virgin Birth. The Daily Mail, which spends the rest of the year openly advocating punishing the poor and foreigners, will suddenly become all Christian and get a bit upset about it. Sometimes the vicar will then adopt the Daily Mail's attitudes to Europe, and start voting Conservative, confusing everyone.

Black Eye Friday

This is celebrated on the last Friday before Christmas. Many British people go into their towns, drink too much, and then end up fighting. Nobody can see why this is different to any other Friday.

The Banning of Christmas

A tradition that has now spread to the United States, where loud-mouthed, red-faced people say they are not allowed to say "Merry Christmas" anymore, thus proving themselves wrong. 

Father Boris

On Boris Night, little children spill bottles of wine on sofas and pray that it doesn't turn out that the Boris is their father. Like the Corbyn, he makes lots of promises of gifts. Except he keeps them all to himself.

The Invention of the Pagan Origins of Christmas

This ritual, often celebrated by the mysterious "Guardian", consists of making up "facts" about the pagan origins of Christmas, based on falsehoods, wishful thinking, and Internet lore. The Guardian itself is an interesting character. It is said that the Guardian was once an inhabitant of northern climes (Manchester) but moved south to Islington for better tapas.

Want to support this blog? Want a good laugh? (or to shudder at death at any rate? Then here's two ways you can keep the Archdruid in doilies...
If you want someone to share the terrors of death while making you laugh, we have "A Hint of Death in the Morning Air" - 97 poems to make you wonder, laugh or shake your head sadly. At only £1 on Kindle. Or if you want to know what the people in the pews really think, and you prefer your words printed on paper, why not try "Writes of the Church"?  The letters to the Church magazine the vicar really didn't need.

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