Christmas is just around the corner again, which means the spiritual and witchcraft communities are back to arguing about the actual reason for the season. Is Christmas a purely pagan holiday, or is it something else unrelated to paganism and witchcraft entirely? Frankly, this shouldn’t even be a debate.

Everyone knows the biblical story of Christ being born, and in our overwhelmingly Christian culture most of us are aware that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Christian messiah. The very first recorded example of the Christmastime festival reportedly took place around the year 336, in the Roman Empire. The Emperor Constantine is popularly credited as the creator of the holiday, and it is often claimed that this was done as a means to oppress pagans and force them into the Christian religion. This festival did indeed have pagan roots, as it was once celebrated as the festival of Saturnalia. However, the very first celebration took place many years before the birth of Jesus (if such a man existed). In the years following the birth and death of Christ, this Roman holiday became Christmas. This was likely done as a means to integrate pagans into the Christian faith, as Christianity fast-became the dominant religion.

Yes, Christmas has roots in paganism leading up to the so-called birth of Christ, but does that make Christmas a purely pagan holiday? Absolutely not. In modern times, the celebration of Christmas carries many different meanings. For a lot of people, it’s just a time of year for admiring holiday lights and exchanging gifts. For others, it’s a deeply symbolic day for their Christian faith.

It can be debated until the end of time whether or not Christianity stole holidays from our pagan ancestors, but does it even matter? Does it change how we celebrate collectively as a society? Anybody can celebrate Christmas with or without the belief in the Christian deity. And everyone is also free to celebrate what they believe to be more traditional pagan festivities.