We have spoken briefly regarding me wanting to be absent on the 22nd. After some consideration, I will be taking the entire day off as annual leave for “religious holiday observance.” I understand that this day is an accrual fix-up day, but it is an important day within my faith and after serious thought I will not be moved on this.
Just as one would not expect a Church-going Christian to work on one of their major holidays (eg. Easter and/or Christmas), as a very active member of my community and a long-time practitioner of faith, I’m exercising my rite to have my religious holiday away from work to spend it with my community to honour our sacred day.
(I’d also like to point out that there are eight holidays that I celebrate scattered throughout the year and I work every other one, celebrating after work or on the nearest weekend as I don’t dare ask for every single one of them off.)
I’m not entirely sure if you understand what I am (as [previous boss] and [previous boss] never had an issue once they understood who I am and what I practice), but I am a polytheistic Pagan Witch and Bardic Druid. I cast spells, I dance under the moon, I talk to trees and I own a broomstick. I don’t ride it to work as it’s much too cold outside.
Yule, or Midwinter, is the celebration of the Winter Solstice, which this year astrologically falls on the 22nd. It is the longest night, a time where we honour what Winter has brought us, and celebrate the end of the waning year knowing that the days will soon begin to get longer from this day.
For me, it is the night that my Patron Deity, Herne the Hunter, embarks on his Wild Hunt, where he and his party ride throughout the lands claiming unsuspecting souls – those who challenge him, those who challenge Sovereignty and the Crown, and those who dare stand in his way. Herne the Hunter, who was once loyal to the King of Britain, who hung himself on an old Oak in Windsor Forest, comes to vent his frustration and claim those who falsely accuse for their own benefit. He, a pre-Christian Lord of the Wild, King of the Hunt, Spirit of Windsor Forest, who I am a Dedicant of, will be honoured.
It is the night where he, as the Oak King, is reborn as the King of Light after losing his battle to the Holly King at Samhain in May. With the Oak King being reborn, the days become longer as he who governs over the land will bring light back and prepare us for the Waxing year.
(In the days of Old with Christianity spreading throughout Europe, early Pagans refused to let go of their celebration of Yule. So the Church changed it from the Birth of the Sun and the Oak King into the birth of Son of their God, and is still celebrated to this day on December 25.)
So why is a “nationally approved” religious holiday more special or accepted than one of mine? Because I am a practitioner of one of the 120+ faiths whose religious holidays are not recognised by the Commonwealth.
You mentioned when we spoke that “work is [your] passion” in a “work is my religion” kind of way. I am studying Environmental Health so I can honour my faith through my work.
My faith may not pay my bills, but it is what keeps me getting out of bed every day and what keeps me fighting to improve my life and how I live.
Herne is one of the few who helps me keep my head above the water, and I will be spending the day (and night) honouring my God. It is his silhouette that I wear on my right arm.