TIS THE SATAN AT SAN JOSE’S CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK
For the third year in a row, Satanic Bay Area is happy to join in San Jose’s annual Christmas In the Park celebration.
Although we’re sometimes still a little iffy about this often explicitly religious holiday display on public land, they continue to maintain a holly-jolly attitude about pluralism every time we show up with pentagram ornaments in hand.
Christmas In the Park is a more than 40-year-old December tradition in the South Bay, featuring hundreds of lighted Christmas trees (enough to set a Guinness World Record in 2017) sponsored by Bay Area small businesses and non-profits.
For obvious reasons, this year’s Christmas In the Park is a drive-thru only display, located in San Jose’s History Park, rather than the usual milling festival of thousands of pedestrians at Cesar Chavez Plaza.
The Satanic Temple raised what we assume was the first-ever public Satanic Christmas tree in San Jose history in 2017…and promptly made headlines when some ne’er-do-well landed on Satan’s naughty list by making off with an expensive goat mask they’d used to top it off.
Having sense enough to horn in on a good idea, Satanic Bay Area sponsored a tree of our own the next year…and promptly made headlines after people kept stealing our ornaments too. This is not really the kind of holiday tradition we’d hoped for, but it is less weird than those countries where they beat a log every Christmas.
Other times, fascistic Catholic groups have shown up to furiously pray at the Satan trees, and to throw holy water on us–and here we didn’t get anything for them.
In truth though, despite these incidents almost all of the feedback we get every year is extremely positive, and park staff tell us many people specifically seek out our display.
We now have hundreds of handmade Satanic ornaments, not just from our own membership but in some cases donated from as far away as Arkansas. Even with this year’s larger tree, we just plain ran out of room–there’s simply too much Satan for the season to hold.
Certain people are still surprised that Bay Area Satanists want to celebrate Christmas at all. To be honest, I find it pretty cute that anybody thinks Christmas is a primarily religious holiday anymore in America–but be that as it may, Satanist attitudes about the holidays are as eclectic as Satanists themselves.
Some prefer to skip the season; some favor more particular holidays like Saturnalia, Sol Invictus, or Yule; and many of us enjoy the same basic Christmas traditions as anyone else.
In fact, Satan and the modern Christmas have a lot in common: While both are imagined the products of mainstream theology, in reality they’re a complicated alloy of many customs and beliefs from many cultures and periods, and both have been radically transformed by modern popular culture–largely for the better, in our opinion.
And yes, if you leave a fire burning in the hearth all night on Christmas Eve, odds are Satan will come down the chimney and leave a surprise under your tree. But you’re probably better off not knowing what it’s going to be.