How do we negotiate Western secular and/or popular religious holidays? Do we ignore them? Do we co-opt them? Do we have celebrations with our non-Kemetic friends/family and then hold our own celebrations, if we have any Kemetic festivals around that particular time?
One of the first questions most new Kemetics ask is “what are our holidays, and how do we celebrate them?”, but for this round of the Kemetic Round Table, we decided to tackle another aspect of celebrating holidays as a Kemetic- and that is the situation of handling non-Kemetic holidays in our practices. I live in the USA, so all of my perspective and writing will be dealing with US holidays specifically.
As I had stated in my previous post on holidays, I don’t celebrate much as a Kemetic. I take note of Wep Ronpet and the Mysteries, and that’s about it. So it shouldn’t come as a surprised when I say that I don’t celebrate a lot of Western holidays, either. Most holidays in the US fall into two categories- they are patriotic/country oriented in nature (July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day) or they are Christian in nature (Christmas, Easter). Because my family is not very religious, I never did much for the Christian holidays, and due to my lack of patriotism or military ties, I don’t do much for the other category, either. And truth be told, when it comes to most Christian holidays, I don’t even know very much about what the holiday is for.
Most holidays are nothing more than a day where all of the stores are closed and I can’t do anything outside of my house (or I have to work).
The only holidays that I make any effort on are Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas. This is out of a familial obligation over some desire to celebrate. And many times, I will leave to go to Vegas for Christmas because Christmas doesn’t exist on the Strip. This isn’t necessarily out of a dislike of the holiday itself or the religion that it’s tied to, but instead is a reflection of my discomfort of being around my family. Many times my family hinders my mental health, so I tend to avoid holidays and parties where we have to interact. On the years where my mental health can’t hack it, I don’t partake in the holiday or celebrations.
That being said, you as a Kemetic can take a few routes when handling holidays. You can ignore them entirely, as I do, you can celebrate them secularly- as many Americans do anymore, or you can rework the holiday to be Kemetic-tied.
One of the most popular holidays to re-work into a Kemetic sense is Christmas. There are a few different angles I’ve seen including both Moomas and Dickmas (nsfw). There are also a lot of Egyptian Pagans who like to try and convert the Christmas holiday into a celebration of Horus’ birthday. While it is not historically attested that Horus was born in the winter, I could see it working if you wanted to give a shot. For myself personally, I am usually working through the Mysteries during Christmas, so it’s more about the rebirth and transformation of Osiris than anything else.
In short, I do think that Western/modern holidays do give us the opportunity to develop new mythologies and connections within our religion. These modern connections help our religion to grow and flourish in the modern era and can breath new life into the gods. Additionally, bringing a Kemetic flare to a non-Kemetic holiday can help practitioners to survive the holiday season and possibly blend in with non-Kemetic family celebrations- which can be helpful for managing stress load. However, there is no obligation to celebrate or not celebrate as you see fit. When it comes to holidays, feel free to experiment and try new things until you find something that works well for you!
To see other responses to this topic, check out the KRT Master List.