Gift giving, tree decorating, and having dinner with your family. I see no need to associate any of those things with religion.
Ignoring the Christian bits of Christmas is no more of a challenge than ignoring the wintery bits of Christmas (for those of us who sit around singing “White Christmas”, etc., in the sweltering heat). We do the bits we like (the eating, the present exchange, the pretty decorations, the favorite old songs) and don’t do the bits that are meaningless to us (the Jesus stuff).
I hate christmas.
Agree with Cazzle et al above. The other thing with Christmas downunder is that, as mentioned, it falls in the middle of summer and thus is more associated with the holiday season…the kids are all off school for six weeks and the Christmassy stuff is just a herald for the good times ahead: vacations, bbq’s, the Boxing Day Test, sunburn and flies.
Jesus? Sorry, he doesn’t rate much of a mention down here unless you are a practising Christian…and they are getting even fewer and further between in my humble experience.
I’m an atheist so ignore all the religious trappings. Over the years I’ve become more of an ‘a-ritualist’. That is, I don’t take part in any rituals, traditions, or customs that seems particularly pointless. So for me it’s no secular xmas, no birthdays, no weddings or funerals, etc.
We celebrate, with no reservations. Though what we do is probably more technically a secular Yule, given that it involves decorating with evergreen stuff, candles, a huge feast, family gatherings, and giving gifts. After all, it’s the Christians who hijacked the pagan traditions in the first place - if I celebrate it without the Christian trappings, then what’s the best thing to call it?
Actually, for ease of use, we generally call it Christmas, but I will also refer to the solstice, which I truly and sincerely celebrate, as I despise the long nights and look forward to the daylight hours growing longer again. Little Cinnamon’s YMCA preschool is inviting parents to come in and read stories from their holiday traditions, and I’m toying with the idea of blowing everyone’s mind by reading a story about the winter solstice.
Speaking of Little Cinnamon, here she is with Santa. I didn’t seem to put a damper on the festivities that a.) we are an atheist family; and b.) she knows Santa isn’t real.
I have HumanLight marked on my calendar, but given the schedule of the relatives and such, it just feels contrived to try to do that instead of Christmas.
I agree. I grew up with a lapsed Catholic parent and a sort of Pentecostal parent. Jesus didn’t get mentioned all that often during Christmas time, so I didn’t really have to adjust to anything new.
On December 25th I celebrate my birthday.* MY BIRTHDAY!!!*
I usually celebrate by getting the tank out of the garage and blowing up somebody’s nativity scene! I mean, this is war! Oh wait…
I was raised Christian and the religious parts of the holiday never appealed to me even back then. It’s much nicer to chuck all that and focus on the secular bits that I do enjoy.
I’ll admit that as a recovered Catholic, current Unitarian Deist, married to an atheist, this question always sort of amuses me.
Christmas, even when I was Catholic, is primarily a secular holiday. Some of us say grace on Thanksgiving - some of us don’t - but the lack of grace and giving thanks to a deity doesn’t stop anyone from taking the day off, eating turkey and watching football.
We even sometimes put out the manger. Its part of the holiday mythos and tradition. Not always - Brainiac4 thinks my baby Jesus looks like a fried egg and makes fun of it (my manger is an abstract wood carving - Mary is a pear shape painted blue with a beige circle where a face would be).
Considering that the early Christians took a preexisting holiday from the “pagans,” it wasn’t really Christian to start with. So the rest of society has taken it back. We really don’t need religion as an excuse to party, do we?
The Supreme Court has even recognized Christmas as a secular holiday:
From an interesting wiki page on the origins of the holiday.
FTR, I’m not atheist, but I’ve come to accept that there really are two different things going on on Dec. 25. I keep my religious observances on my own, and enjoy the secular bits just as well. Neither one has to infringe on the other.
At work we have white boards all around in the hallways to write notes to each other about what to do with certain animals in the rooms close to that white board. Someone wrote “Happy Christmas” on all of them and I’ve gone back through and x-ed the word “christmas” out and replaced it with “Non-offensive secular gift giving december holiday” which of course is the most obnoxious thing you can do in this situation.
I used to feel sort of hypocritical belting out the Christmas carols. Then one day I looked around the living room and counted art works from three other religious traditions and decided that singing Christmas carols (or Amazing Grace, for that matter) fell into the same category. I enjoy the aesthetic aspects of many of the religious parts of Christmas without reservation now. But we mostly do secular stuff anyway - gifts, family gatherings, Christmas trees, Santa, etc.
QKid is now five, so I’ve started trying to explain the Christmas story to him. I think it’s important culturally to understand the basics of Christianity. It’s tricky to try to convey the idea of God and Jesus while neither suggesting that the story is true nor that people who believe it aren’t so bright. And speaking of QKid, I must go set up the Advent calendar while he’s at school…
I’m not an atheist, but I’m also not Christian, so I hope my participation here is not inappropriate. I’m Baha’i, my hubby is atheist. Our kids are, well, hard to say what the oldest one is. She changes religions about as often as I change my jeans. The middle one is Baha’i, and my youngest (7YO) currently says she’s “Half Baha’i, half Christian”
We celebrate Christmas in a secular manner. We hang out with our families (mine are mainly Christian, hubby’s is mostly atheist/agnostic), are respectful of whatever religious stuff we may encounter. We have a tree and presents. But we don’t really talk about it being a celebration of the birth of Christ. Baha’is, of course, have our own Holy Days, and most of the religious talk my kids and I do focus around those days, as well as our own church activities/daily prayers, etc.
I’m with Tom Lehrer.
Christmas is the time of year to celebrate that which we all most truly believe in.
I refer of course to
I don’t celebrate Christmas, I celebrate the winter solstice 3 days late. My kids give me :dubious: a lot, but I’m used to that.
And I have a 4-foot tall lighted star that I place inverted on the roof.
I’m an atheist, raised Lutheran. I still love Christmas, though. I’m a bit of a hedonist and the secular portion of Christmas is all about the happy. Plus I like Christmas music.
This particular year, though, my wife and I will be pretty much skipping the whole thing, staying at my FIL’s house in Reno for some R&R and skiing.
Brilliant! Now I’ll have to buy you a beer…
Does anyone else think the “embarrassment” smily looks like Christmas carolers?
:o :o :o :o :o
. :o :o :o :o
“O holy night…”
Good responses everbody; just what I expected. Damn straight most aspects of the holiday season are secular and pagan in origin. Conservatives make it sound like to get rid of religious references on government property is to get rid of Christmas altogether.
Lots of non-Christians celebrate various aspects of the holiday season, but it remains controversial and many feel that they are not allowed to participate and don’t allow their children to. That’s because many on both sides still haven’t come to grips with the fact that presents-and-lights-and-trees-and-Santa are secular and completly separate from Christianity.
You might say that the observance of the birth of Jesus has been grafted onto the holiday season like an organ and it’s slowly being rejected.
Anyway, here’s a sneak preview of a bit that I’m going to use to start a GD thread a little later:
And for a lengthy discussion of Culture War issues including holidays, see here:
Christmas Should be a Uniter, not a Divider
It’s War on Christmas season once again. Non-Christians complain that Christianity gets rammed down their throat every December, while conservative Christians complain that there’s a vast “war” being waged to stamp out observance of the holiday.
But by now we should all be aware that most of the customs we associate with Christmas are pagan, not Christian, in origin and derive either from the Roman “Saturnalia” or Norse “Yule” winter solstice celebrations. The early Christians simply merged the observance of the birth of Jesus with the existing holiday season. This was partly to make conversion to Christianity more acceptable to pagan communities, and later to provide cover for keeping the enjoyable pagan traditions alive. The often boisterous seasonal revelry was rationalized as understandable excitement in anticipation of attending the “Christ Mass”.
So where we’re talking about “Christmas” we’re really just talking about a church service, and there’s a lot more to the holiday season than that. Traditions like colored lights, Santa Claus, and exchanging presents around the tree can be considered secular and separate from the observance of the birth of Jesus. Add to these the traditions of Jewish Hanukkah, Neo-pagan Winter Solstice, African-American Kwanzaa, and of course New Years, and “holidays” encompasses quite a smorgasbord of options. People who want to include a specific religious tradition can simply plug that in to the broader holiday season. And they can call it whatever they want. Jews and other non-Christians need not prohibit themselves or their children from
should feel free to participate in all the myriad secular aspects of the holiday season, and conservatives should spare us the conspiracy theories.
You’ll still get your presents, and that’s the most important thing.
You see, children, Christmas is a vast magic spell, but it only works so long as everyone says ‘Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas’. But if someone like the President or Wal Mart doesn’t say ‘Merry Christmas’, then the impact is devastating and the spell can be broken.