Though we have no equivalent data for the U.S., I found this data from Britain interesting:
Paganism is on the rise in Britain.
A YouGov poll in Britain shows that at least 38% of young adults do not believe in the Christian God and are becoming more and more attracted to several forms of Paganism. As a result, the Church of England announced a proposal on July 12, 2013 that states that they would like to create a "Pagan church" that has mainly Christian content. The Church of England hopes that in doing so that they may keep some of the 38% from becoming Pagan. It's not clear why the Church of England feels that Paganism is such a huge threat to them, aside from the fact that Paganism was once the primary religion of the region before Christianity.
Census data that was released recently shows that Paganism is now the seventh largest religion in the United Kingdom. More surprising to the Church of England is that the number of Pagans in the United Kingdom has doubled since 2001.
Here in the U.S. the government collects no official data on religion, but according to researchers religiosity is declining
in the U.S. That does not mean that all those who eschew formal affiliations are atheists. What is interesting to me however, is to look at communities of atheists and/or secular humanists and to see events like the "Brighter Than Today: Secular Solstice" billed in NYC as celebrating "how humans conquered winter" and as a "festival of science and song."
Paganism or Neo-Paganism in the U.S. covers a wide range of beliefs:
Wiccan churches and other Neopagan institutions are becoming more common in the US. However, estimates of their numbers vary widely. Most of the 1990s studies put the number of US Neopagans between 200,000 and 1 million (0.1% to 0.5% of the total population). A 2008 Pew Forum survey put "New Age" religious believers, including Neopagans, at about 1.2 million.
According to David Waldron (2005), roughly 10 million Wiccan-related books were sold in 2000 (up from 4.5 million in 1990), as reported by the American Booksellers Association. However this gives only a rough guide to the size of the Wiccan-related economy and he comments that the added complexity of determining the boundary between Wiccan or Neopagan products and New Age products makes determining the size of the movement from this rather problematic.
More conservative estimates include Helen Berger and Craig Hawkins in Exploring the World of Wicca, who guessed from 150,000 to 200,000. Melton, J. Gordon, Jerome Clark and Aidan A. Kelly in New Age Almanac (1991, p. 340) estimate a total of about 300,000 people associated with the "overall movement" of Wicca, with "tens of thousands" of members active in between 1,000 and 5,000 covens. Conservative estimates arrive at about 50,000 Wiccans in the US (Religious Requirements & Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains, 1993) while Wiccan high estimates claim several million (Phyllis Curott, The Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman's Journey Into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess). The largest estimates posit 1 million Wiccans, a fast growth compared to the 100.000/200.000 estimated in late 1990s and early 2000s
Though not a Wiccan, as a practitioner of New World Afro-Caribbean tradition, I count myself among those who are classed as pagan. In honoring my own ancestors from my very diverse family tree, the Yule log
serves to honor those who came here from Norway.
Yule log bonfire, Reynolds Nature Preserve, Georgia
Places like the Reynolds Nature Preserve
in Georgia hold an annual Yule Log celebration, with a bonfire (cancelled this year due to weather).
Would love to hear from those who you who plan to celebrate the solstice, whether secularly or spiritually: your songs, your ceremonies and your recipes.
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