Britain's pagan policemen and women have been given the right to take time off to celebrate their ancient festivals. The Pagan Police Association (PPA) has been recognised as a 'diversity staff support organisation' by the Home Office, a move which has polarised the force.
The PPA is thought to have up to 500 members, including Wiccans and Druids. Co-founder Andy Pardy has hailed the group's progress, which will see members allowed time off to observe dates like the recent Beltane Fire Festival and Spring Equinox at Stonehenge.
"The recognition of paganism is a slow process, but the progress is evident," he says. "Officers can, for the first time, apply for leave on the festival dates relevant to their path, and allow them to work on other dates such as Christmas which bear no relevance to them." Followers of major world religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism already get time off to celebrate events in their religious calendars.
Paganism is believed to be Britain's fastest growing religion, and its followers have enjoyed increased exposure through the British media in recent years due to their protests at Stonehenge. Major festivals include Yule, an ancient precursor to Christmas in which pagans burn a Yule log in honour of the Germanic god Kriss Kringle, and Samhain, on Halloween, when food is left for the dead and worshippers cast spells as ghosts.
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