A Wiccan student has criticised Trinity Hall in Cambridge for throwing a ‘Solstice’ themed summer ball, saying it touches on the sensitivities of Pagan worshippers who consider it an important religious festival.
The festival should not be used as an excuse for students to get drunk and celebrate the end of exams, said Georgia Humphrey, LGBT+ officer at Christ’s College, Cambridge, and Wiccan worshiper.
She understands the event was not made with malice towards the Pagan faith and does not expect the committee to change the theme. But, she hopes that they will take her criticisms on board and be sensitive to decorations and entertainment available on the night.
Wicca, or Pagan witchcraft, is a contemporary religious movement inspired by pre-Christian European folk religions. It was developed in England during the first half of the 20th century and many followers believe in magic, witchcraft and sorcery, according to The Telegraph.
Pagan worshipers celebrate the Solstice twice a year on the longest and shortest days of the year, with modern day worshipers gathering at Stonehenge in the UK for sunrise.
In a comment to Varsity, Cambridge University’s student paper, she said: “I think it’s pretty grim to use any religion’s festivals as an excuse for a bunch of students to get drunk.”
The event invites students to “dance through the shortest night into the longest day” for £85 a head, but Humphrey would like to remind students and organisers that Solstice is a sacred event for Pagans that is celebrated every year.
“I was generally annoyed at the theme. If I got upset about every instance of someone misrepresenting pagan religions or mocking me for my beliefs I’d never get anything done,” she said to Varsity.
“It does irritate me though that I am subject to this kind of grief over my beliefs pretty much whenever someone discovers this aspect of my life, and then I discover something like this – an event that is using a holiday I celebrate seriously and with religious conviction as merely the theme for a party.”
This is not the first time Trinity Hall has sparked debate with its ball theme. Two years ago, the college was forced to drop its ‘Toyko to Kyoto’ theme over charges of cultural appropriation.
“It’s never fun to see your beliefs bastardised for the entertainment of others,” Humphrey said to Varsity.
Despite the insensitivity, Humphrey said she did not expect the college to change the theme but hopes that, “it makes them think a little about what decorations and events they have at their June Event, and consider the theme they are working with in a careful way. Maybe even learn a little about the religions to whom the solstice is so important.”