In the Gregorian calendar, today is Good Friday for millions of practicing Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians: the most solemn day of the liturgical year as it commemorates Jesus’ torture and death by crucifixion (a common method of capital punishment meted out in ancient Rome) on the hill of Golgotha. For many modern Pagans and Witches, celebrating the holidays of Christian family members or loved ones is a common occurrence, especially in the interests of maintaining interfaith harmony and treating any religious devotee’s holy day with the respect accorded to it.
Easter for Witches: Celebrated or Not?
Several of my friends, current and former coven members, and acquaintances I’ve made in the broader Pagan community in the past 23 years express a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors on whether or not to celebrate Easter. Many Witches (Wiccan, Trad Craft, or other/non-specified), including my adored friend and current ritual partner A.H., are militantly anti-Christian and want no trace of Christian symbols, liturgical references, mythological constructs, etc., influencing (some might say “tainting”) the practices of their Craft. Other Witches, especially those involved in interfaith ambassadorship through formal group associations or civic involvement, swing the proverbial pendulum to the opposite extreme and are content to join their Christian family members, neighbors, or fellow civic religious leaders in celebrations of Easter, whether that means participating in a religious service or an interfaith communal meal or partaking in more secular activities such as supervising children’s Easter egg hunts and the like.
Easter and European Traditional Witchcraft
In the annals of Traditional Witchcraft as practiced in various European countries, celebrating Easter was par for the course. In Sweden, for example, there’s a folkloric belief that witches fly off to the island of Blåkulla to meet the Devil on Maundy Thursday. The sense of spookiness has been diluted into the contemporary custom of children dressing as “Easter witches” known as påskkärringar, who go go-to-door asking for Easter candies in the same manner of American children trick-or-treating on Halloween. And in Traditional Witchcraft as it developed in the mid-to-late 20th century under the tutelage of Robert Cochrane, Easter is actually seen is a high tide of magical power (Pearson 164).