Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide” as Want to Read:
Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  132 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
An examination of the sacred botany and the pagan origins and rituals of Christmas

• Analyzes the symbolism of the many plants associated with Christmas

• Reveals the shamanic rituals that are at the heart of the Christmas celebration

The day on which many commemorate the birth of Christ has its origins in pagan rituals that center on tree worship, agriculture, magic, and
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 24th 2006 by Inner Traditions
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Pagan Christmas, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Pagan Christmas

Community Reviews

(showing 1-54)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 05, 2007 Spuddie rated it liked it
This book looks back at history and explains the origins of some of our modern-day Christmas traditions: the Christmas tree, the colors red and white, various common decorations, St. Nicholas (and his cousins Father Christmas and Sinterklaas among others) and various festivals held over the centuries around the world that coincide with Christmas. The idea that Santa's reindeer fly because they're high on magic mushrooms made me giggle a bit, I must admit!

There was a lot of new information in he
Matthew W
Dec 25, 2009 Matthew W rated it it was ok
This book should have been called "Hippie Degenerate Aryan Christmas." I wish I had not judged a book by it's cover. The pictures featured in "Pagan Christmas" are the only redeeming value of this extremely disappointing book. It surely did not put me in the "Christmas spirit."
Kim Stroup
Feb 27, 2008 Kim Stroup rated it liked it
It wasn't what I was expecting. I thought it would be about Pagan traditions/rituals, but it is about plants used by Pagans/Christians alike. If you are into botany, you would probably really like this book.
Oct 16, 2008 ---------- rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: the religious, history fans, interest in botany
It was an okay book.

I was expecting more, but it's still pretty informative.

It discusses plants and some rituals involving plants during the Christmas holidays that originate from paganism.

Easy to read.
Dec 20, 2011 Lynn rated it it was amazing
The authors, two PhD anthropologists with specialties in ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, and art history, have written a fascinating look into the origins of so many varied things we associate with Christmas today. Colors, plants, spices, sweets, shaped breads and cookies, chocolate, tree cult customs, traditional songs, and even the Church's calendar have direct links to pre-Christian and early Christian traditions and beliefs from all over Europe. Over hundreds of years, the Church successully ...more
Dec 05, 2015 Rod rated it liked it
A slightly mis-leading book: It's less about Christmas/Yuletide/Solstice traditions (though there is plenty about that) than it is about Christmas PLANTS. Not as silly as it sounds: Christmas trees, mistletoe, plums, holly berries; there are lots of plants associated with our rituals (Christian AND pagan) from that time of year. But it helps going into this book if you have a a feel (and an ear) for botany to begin with. There is a wealth of information here, but unfortunately the little snippet ...more
Rebecca Cooper
Jan 12, 2016 Rebecca Cooper rated it it was amazing
At first I thought this book would be about the pagan and folk traditions behind Christmas, historically and culturally. And those things are in there, but the real focus through which these traditions are viewed is through the plants associated with Christmas. This is a book on ethnobotany, but it is really quite fascinating. There are many color photos and illustrations throughout -- including quite a few whimsical portrayals of the fly agaric mushroom. I'm interested in herbalism, anthropolog ...more
Nov 08, 2016 Dave rated it liked it
All these "origins of" books need to be taken with a grain of salt. I've already read a bunch of these and in my opinion the general ideas are basically on the right track but the details are highly questionable. There's just such an overwhelming amount of information to compare that nobody's really managed to put together a totally convincing timeline for how these beliefs have evolved. It's an interesting and important topic though so I definitely recommend looking into this stuff a little bit ...more
While the primary focus of Pagan Christmas is on European holiday traditions and the plants associated with them, this book is nothing if not broad in scope. Food, ornamentation, incense, drinks, festivals, there's little related to Christmas (or its preceding practices), that isn't touched upon within these pages, in at least some capacity. While a little dense at times, Pagan Christmas is still a fascinating read which casts light on the origins of many holiday celebrations--as well as a look ...more
May 16, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it
The perfect holiday read that uncovers the Pagan roots of many Yuletide festivities & traditions. After all, Christianity borrowed (or stole depending on your point of view) from the ancients celts & pagan cultures when attempting to dominate religion. Whether good or bad is not the point; our yuletide traditions are rooted in a heritage much older & far more pervasive than is commonly known or understood. And this is an excellent tutorial.
Nov 12, 2012 Margaret rated it it was ok
Shelves: social-history
Whilst the premise was interesting, the book itself rapidly became quite boring. The subtitle is "The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals of Yuletide", however there was far too much of the first and not enough of the other two.

I will take two things away from reading this book. 1) The image of Santa Claus as an anthropomorphic fly agaric mushroom! and 2)Eating chocolate Santas as a form of ritual cannibalism!

I am NEVER going to be able to look at a shopping mall Santa in the same way again!
Jan 02, 2011 Jack rated it really liked it
This book is a little more choppy in its presentation, but it had some great recipe's in it for holiday incense and punch, as well as ideas for crafters. The author tried to please pagans and Christians alike, leaving everyone just a little dissatisfied, I'm thinking. Still, it is a book I plan to have in my library for future reference!
Wendy S.
Jan 01, 2011 Wendy S. rated it liked it
Now this is the type of book that I've long looked for that has information that I've long been fascinated with for Yule. Every plant and tree and the mythology, etymology, lore, traditions are beautifully written and illustrated. A must book if you're interested in unknown and unique pagan Yule lore.
Jul 15, 2011 Gwnhwyfer marked it as looks-interesting
From the bibliography of Ellen Dugan's Green Witch's Herbal (2009).
Wondra Vanian
Jul 28, 2012 Wondra Vanian rated it did not like it
Shelves: witches
Basically just a bunch of random facts and pictures presented in a way that doesn't make much of a point. Reads like a highschool report on the subject, rather than a professionally presented book.
June Narber
Sep 18, 2012 June Narber rated it it was amazing
Nothing can document the pre christian origins of this Luciferian holiday. To ignore the pagan everything of this holiday is to ignore simple truth.
Dec 12, 2010 LondonFog rated it it was amazing
So far, so good.
Nov 29, 2012 Dan rated it really liked it
An interesting and enjoyable book. I spread its reading over three pre-holidays seasons. it now joins another two Xmas holiday history and traditions books on my reference shelves.
Jan 09, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
An in-depth look at the pagan roots of Christmas traditions, such as the tree, mistletoe, etc. Very educational, sometimes a little dry, but pretty engrossing as well.
Katherine Blake
Katherine Blake rated it really liked it
Jan 12, 2012
Sarah rated it it was ok
Dec 04, 2012
Justin M. Neil
Justin M. Neil rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2013
Cheryl Nichols
Cheryl Nichols rated it it was amazing
Sep 14, 2015
Julie rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2014
Miles rated it liked it
Jan 06, 2016
Evan Mantri
Evan Mantri rated it really liked it
Jan 11, 2013
Cindy rated it it was ok
Dec 13, 2009
Ashaley Lenora
Ashaley Lenora rated it it was amazing
May 19, 2013
Inks Kolmnurkmees
Inks Kolmnurkmees rated it really liked it
Mar 31, 2014
Jessica Star
Jessica Star rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2007
Tyne marked it as to-read
Nov 08, 2007
Fakih added it
Jan 02, 2008
Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Jan 07, 2008
Kate added it
Jan 10, 2008
Sandy Sizemore
Sandy Sizemore marked it as to-read
Jun 27, 2008
Carrie marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2008
Christy Stewart
Christy Stewart rated it liked it
Apr 15, 2009
Ema added it
Jun 08, 2009
luindriel rated it liked it
Jul 09, 2009
Cara marked it as to-read
Dec 28, 2009
Randy Pitcher
Randy Pitcher marked it as to-read
Feb 04, 2010
♥Juvia♥ marked it as to-read
Apr 07, 2010
Hannah marked it as to-read
Jul 08, 2010
Alexandra Hope
Alexandra Hope marked it as to-read
Aug 18, 2010
Ruby Hollyberry
Ruby Hollyberry marked it as to-read
Nov 23, 2010
Dave Olsher
Dave Olsher marked it as to-read
Nov 27, 2010
Maryann rated it liked it
Dec 07, 2010
Kim rated it liked it
Dec 18, 2010
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas
  • The Hebrew Goddess
  • Lammas: Celebrating Fruits of the First Harvest
  • Druids: A Very Short Introduction
  • The Pagan Book of Days: A Guide to the Festivals, Traditions, and Sacred Days of the Year
  • Autumn Equinox: The Enchantment of Mabon
  • The History of Atlantis
  • Lucifer's Court: A Heretic's Journey in Search of the Light Bringers
  • Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction
  • Book of Pagan Prayer
  • The Key: A True Encounter
  • Goddess Alive!: Inviting Celtic & Norse Goddesses Into Your Life
  • The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold
  • The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul
  • Empires of Time: Calendars, Clocks, and Cultures
  • Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future
  • The Fated Sky: Astrology in History
  • Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition

Share This Book