athiest/agnostic Xmas?

I’m athiest, I told this to an aquantence of mine today, and one of his many questions was: “do you celebrate christmas?”
It got me thinking, I don’t beleive in jesus, or god, or any sort of higher power–yet I observe a christian holaday. We put up a tree and give presents, all that stuff, but no jesus. After some thinking, I decided that I don’t do it out of observance of someone’s birth, or even out of habit. I do it because It’s a day of the year when I take the time to be with the people I love.
I’m curious to know howmany other athiests or agnostics observe Xmas and what traditions you have for it.

damn, I meant to put this in IMHO, could the mod please move it there?

As a Militant Agnostic, I don’t see much of a contradiction. Christmas wasn’t a Christian holiday to begin with. It got attatched to the Roman Saturnalia by people who wanted to covert pagan Romans. And the Saturnalia was only the local version of a common pagan practice (I belive the ancient Jews took note of this as well) of celebrating the fact that days were once again getting longer (apparently they waited a few days after the Soltice- the 22nd, usually-just to be sure.)

Anyway, these days, even if you are not relieved that the Great Wolf has not permanently swallowed the sun (a Norse myth I think) you can still pay attention to the cycles of the earth, and more importantly…well the way I see it, it’s about people coming together and warming and comforting each other at the darkest time of the year, and reassurring each other that the light will come back (literally and metaphorically) even though we have all of winter to get through.

Which I think is a nice idea. So I celebrate Christmas

It is becoming increasingly difficult to view Christmas as a religious holiday. I don’t think the way it’s observed today was what they had in mind when they started it. I, myself, do not observe it, and do not particpate in gift exchanges. But that decision is not related to the alleged religious nature of the day.

I became an atheist on Christmas. So I call it the “Day of Enlightenment.” It kind of has a religious ring to it…

Although I am agnostic, I value two thngs that Jesus said as being the crux of the New Testament: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you," and, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

I think the celebration of Christmas fits that quite nicely, especially a Christmas along the lines of Scrooge’s after he is enlightened in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

      • And anyway, most of the people who celebrate Christmas aren’t Christians. Most Christmas decorations and many consumer goods are produced in far eastern countries predominantly of another religion. - MC

I am intellectually an agnostic/atheist but I still celebrate Christmas and Easter and have an emotional response to much of Christian mythology. After years of worrying about this contradiction, I’ve finally come to be comfortable viewing myself as a ‘cultural Christian.’ I know many Jews who are as atheist as I but who still consider themselves Jewish, so I consider my ‘cultural Christianity’ in that same light. I have no spritual component at all, but enjoy many of the trappings of Christianity. Especially Christmas and Easter.

I’m anti-religion, but since my B-day is December 25th,
I don’t have any trouble with the day.

I was once waiting outside a CD store when a lady
complained about their being open on Christmas. I
just said “Well, everyone’s not a Christian, you

I would have to agree with a lot of people here and say that Christmas isn’t really observed as a Christian holiday anymore, it is more commercial than anything else. In fact, I wonder, if far into the future, people will remember what they are actually celebrating on that certain day?

The Pagans had it first.

Then, the Christians took it from them.

Then, the malls took it from them.

Don’t sweat it. Taking a day off doesn’t mean you’re religious, it just means you are co-opting something for your own neads, and as you can see, you’re part of a great tradition when you do!

Yer pal,

Four months, one week, six days, 12 hours, 58 minutes and 52 seconds.
5421 cigarettes not smoked, saving $677.70.
Life saved: 2 weeks, 4 days, 19 hours, 45 minutes.[/sub]

"Satan is not an unattractive person."-Drain Bead
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Sure, I celebrate Christmas. We put up a tree, and Santa has never failed to arrive. As far as the overtly religious aspects? My wife sings in the choir at her church, and I used to go to Midnight Mass with her. Watched everyone take communion except me, including a Jew and a Southern Baptist. Decided that I wasn’t too terribly comfortable with it, and now stay at home. Which means that it falls to me to make the freakin’ bicycle look like it’s supposed to. I wish like hell that my daughter wanted simple toys for Christmas. Like a dreidle. . .

Flick Lives!

Hey, I’ll celebrate anything that gives me a paid day off work. And, as other dopers have pointed out, most of the Christian holidays got pasted over already existing celebrations, with lots of curious mix-ups happening in the traditions. Christmas has got to be one of the most confused, with Germanic tree-worship, Roman Saturnalia, the Persian worship of Mithras, and a few dozen pagan mid-winter festivals.

Note to comaprative religion buffs - check out the similarities between the Mithras/Christ mythologies. Midwinter was the night to celebrate the virgin birth of Mithras in a stable. His worship was very popular with Roman soldiers for a couple centuries.

Merry Mithras to all, and to all a good night.

Hey my ex-girlfriend was born on Christmas. They named her Christi. So I always celebrated Christmas. For me, most of my family celebrates it, therefore I do it too to be close to them. If they all celebrated Columbus Day I’d probably go visit them on that day too.

My family celebrates Christmas because it is traditional, it’s fun, and I personally like the idea of welcoming the lengthening of the days. I even like Christmas carols, though I imagine that will require some explaining when we have kids (“what does ‘O Holy Night’ mean, Mommy?”)

And Betenoir, I have to point out:

Covert Pagan Romans would make a great band name.

What do you mean when you say you became an atheist on Christmas? This doesn’t seem like something that takes only one day.

Well, The Ryan, it can be if you do it right.

Flick Lives!


Please tell your children that Lib believed it was a kiss from God.

I don’t “celebrate” christmas really, but if people would like to randomly give me present after present then I am not opposed, it doesn’t matter what days they appear at, I’ll take them. (Although they usually appear on 2 certain days.)

I love Xmas music, and decorations, and the TV specials (especially Charlie Brown). I love other peoples decorations (too much work for me to do it for myself but I can count on zillions of people doing it for me). I love getting together with friends and family. I love presents, both giving and receiving. I like watching the kids at their chistmas pageant at church and I can easily tune out the sermon and just relax in the presence of a group of people who are mostly feeling a spirit of love.
Occasionally, at church, someone asks me whether I’m a part of the church and gets it out of me that I’m an atheist. They are always amazed because of how good and generous they see me being (helping with moving the pews or whatever). Generally the whole thing is over before they can find a good time to sit me down and try to convert me. They pester my family about it and occasionally I get offers for romance from women who my grandfather would call “hearty eaters”. It just makes me smile.

I avoid the malls and drive during low traffic periods (like 4 am). I get lots of sleep by taking a lot of naps.

Celebrate? I don’t know if that’s the right word. It’s nice. It happens whether I want it to or not. I may as well go along for the ride.

The thing about my beliefs is that I see no need to change people as long as they are acting in a way undamaging to society. Even when damage is being done, you have to balance that with good being done and others’ rights. I enjoy the chance to show Christians that athiests can be good people. It’s not the religion that makes good people, it’s good people that make good religion.

I see a lot of families who hang on to a church as a safe place to have their kids socialize etc… I think they are right in most cases because the rest of the people at the church they attend are doing the same thing. It takes a significant amount of time and work to be an active member of a church and generally this serves as a fairly good filter to keep out the undesirables. This is the good part of organized religion. The groups I am describing do very little proselytizing and generally seek new members only out of a desire to marry off their daughters.

I guess you can tell I have had a lot of positive religious experiences. I’m still an atheist. But I love Christmas. I own the Grinch on DVD.