Black Friday marked the opening of Christmas In the Park, the 40-year-old San Jose tradition featuring hundreds of Christmas trees, some slightly unpredictable robots, and a manger scene where ne’er-do-wells frequently kidnap the baby Jesus.

Satanic Bay Area sponsored a tree at Christmas In the Park in 2018, and experienced some challenges over the locals’ light-fingered response to our Satanic ornaments.

But for the most part it was a positive experience and parkgoers by and large enjoyed our display, which is one reason we’re back for the new season. Our ornament count this time is over 200, all of them made by Bay Area Satanists.

The Satanic Temple’s Santa Cruz chapter is sporting a tree just a few feet from ours as well, making Christmas In the Park a doubly devilish affair this year.

During last year’s flap, some reporters commenting on the story expressed surprise that Satanists would want to celebrate Christmas in the first place.

I’ll admit, I found the suggestion that Christmas is a primarily Christian holiday in the US surprising, and almost naive. Nobody really thinks Macy’s raises that giant tree in Union Square every year because they’re excited about Jesus’ birthday, do they?

For that matter, nobody really believes that Jesus just happened to conveniently be born at the Winter Solstice and die at the Spring Equinox?

Like Satan, our modern American Christmas is a blend of competing religious influences, some dating to thousands of years before the emergence of Christianity, but most prominently it’s a work of of popular and commercial culture.

And that’s probably as it should be. Often people express scorn when they note that early Christians tried to put their imprimatur on existing pagan holidays, but really this was  the natural thing to do. That’s chiefly how new traditions emerge: by building off of existing traditions.

For us, Christmas In the Park is a great occasion for personal expression, as every ornament is an individual creation representing the Satanist’s own perspectives.

Like all holidays, it’s also a chance for for us to create common experiences between ourselves, and the very public nature of the event affords an opportunity to assert our rightful place in society.

Of course, not all Satanists are up for the holiday season, and some prefer to eschew Christmas trappings for their own reasons. As we’ve said before, Satanism is a religion of individual practice–and it’s the Satanist’s inalienable right to determine their own rites.