Ex-Christians and Christmas

This thread is for people who grew up Christian but aren’t any more, for whatever reason. Maybe you converted to another religion, like me (I converted to Judaism). Atheists/agnostics/spiritual-but-not-religious people who grew up Christian are welcome here.

At first, I missed Christmas, and tried to avoid all things Christmassy. But as time goes on, I’m developing more of a spectator’s appreciation for Christmas. I get to see the pretty lights, trees, etc, without having to do the work to put them up in my own home. For a while, I put up tinsel and such for Hanukkah, but now I just put out an electric menorah and a few candle menorahs. (I get the high-maintenance holiday at Passover, though, so it’s not like things have gotten easier overall)

You? Do you decorate for Christmas, bake cookies, send cards, have family get-togethers, etc? Are there things you used to do for Christmas that you don’t do any more? Have your feelings toward Christmas changed since you stopped being a Christian?

Nothing has changed. I don’t go to mass anymore, but I always hated doing that anyway. I decorate, but I don’t go nuts. I can’t really be bothered.

Christmas is exactly the same except for not going to church on christmas eve.

Good question. I’m interested to see the responses.

I was raised Catholic, and now consider myself agnostic. Christmas hasn’t been altered that much for me. We have a tree and the house is decorated. Our decorations lean more towards snowflakes than angels, but I still put up the crèches I’ve collected over the years. Everything else remains the same, with the exception of Christmas Eve Mass, which we no longer attend.

I find Christmas, in general, makes me a little sad. Listening to the hymns I sang so many times in choir makes me wistful for the time when I actually believed what I was singing. I remember how warm and cozy everything seemed at Christmas Eve Mass, and I wish I could still feel that (instead of the rage I felt at Mass towards the end). Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely have no desire whatsoever to become Catholic/Christian again. I’m just a wee bit nostalgic at Christmastime.

Get your hands on the Seoul Mates episode from Northern Exposure! Then, start looking for Raven ornaments…

(Actually, Holling just sings Ave Maria.)

No decorating, but I do give presents to family and my office staff. Also travel to my parents’ home, where my mother does a formal Christmas Dinner, decorates, we do the gift swap under the tree, etc. Left to my own devices, I’d enjoy the time off work, but otherwise ignore the holiday.

I’m Wiccan, so my decorations are all ones that lean more toward the Solstice/return of the light kinda thing - I use lots of greenery, candles, white lights on the tree, red ribbons and red holly berries, etc.

That having been said, I still have Santa stuff I’ve been given as gifts, and will put those decorations out. I love some Christmas music, and believe that religious Christmas hymns are beautiful, especially Handel’s Messiah.

I also give presents because I like doing that. And the child in my likes getting 'em :slight_smile:

Something very close to this, though even when I “believed”, it didn’t go too deep.

I hated all Christmas music for a while, but I’m getting to the point where I can appreciate some of it again. Not all- “Frosty the Snowman” sucks, always has, and probably always will.

This is what I do. We might have a more elaborate dinner that night than most nights, just because we’re off work and have more time to cook. We made cassoulet one Christmas with lamb shanks, chicken thighs, and kosher hot dogs. Mmmm. We might have to do that (or something like it) again this year, since Christmas is on a Friday and therefore dinner is Shabbat dinner and supposed to be special (and usually is in our house, at least to some degree).

I had avoided Christmas at my parents’ house until last year, when we went there the weekend after Christmas. They had the house all decorated and all, but I found it didn’t bother me like it would have a few years ago- I could have fun celebrating somebody else’s holiday without missing it for myself.

I abandoned Christianity at 20; I never felt the need to abandon Christmas. I don’t currently decorate or have a tree at Christmastime (laziness and no family), but I do enjoy all that, including the most religious of carols. I just don’t associate any of this with faith, and never really did.

The only thing I miss is some of the magic that went with belief. But other than that, nothing has changed.

I abandoned it for years–I continued to give gifts, though. I just felt culturally “left out”. A few years back I came to the realization that most of the holiday’s traditions had been stolen from the pagans anyway. So we decided to celebrate in a non-religious way. We put up a tree, have gifts, bake, etc. I even make sure to send non religious cards wishing “happy holidays”. Beats Festivus!

Love your post. :wink:

Nothing much changed for me either. But I do still go to Christmas eve Midnight Mass at home, the wonderful music & singing makes it much more entertaining than a regular Mass.

I grew up RC and was practicing somewhat through my early twenties when I finally acknowledged my agnosticism.

I love the winter holidays, including Christmas. I decorate most years, host a gathering to attend the local Christmas parade, do the Santa thing with the kids in my life and even occasionally attend midnight mass with family (I haven’t lost the appreciation for the beauty of the ritual, even though I no longer believe in the religious aspect).

I particularly enjoy Christmas music, the more traditional religious being some of my favorites (although the secular stuff from the forties through the sixties comes a close second).

I send holiday, Hannukah, Solstice and secular Christmas cards as I have a hobby / business making handmade greeting cards. I like the whole season of festivity. I actually think that I enjoy it more now without the religious trappings than before.

I grew up Catholic, realized I was an Atheist at about 17, 19 years ago. I still participate in Christmas, but not religiously, just the warm fuzzy family stuff. My family consists of some religious people, an agnostic or two, a pagan, and some atheists. Religion is not much of a part of the celebration. When my Father-in-Law says the prayer over the meal, I hold hands, but don’t bow my head. I usually wink at my wife, who does the same as I do. I won’t fake it by going to a Christmas mass. I do go to funeral masses, as a sign of respect, but I think it’s best for all if I avoid Christmas church. Some of the non-Christians do attend, but I don’t.


I haven’t really changed a thing – except I don’t go to church (mostly). All the usual home decorating and socializing is the same. The tree, the advent calendar, the carols on the stereo. Occasionally, I will even go to a church sometime in the Christmas season if they are having a service with lots of carols to sing. I’m in it for the music and the glitter.

Thank you for your thoughtful suggestion. I’ll definitely see if I can find it. I actually love ravens, so that episode will be perfect for me!

Was raised RC but have long been about as devout a nonbeliever as could be - as are the wife and 3 kids. But we put up a tree and outside lights, hang stockings, decorate the house, exchange gifts, play christmas music - religious and non, and everything.

Between the fact that christians piggy-backed on pre-existing solstice celebrations, and the more recent secularization/commercialization of the season, I find I have no difficulty personally accepting it just as a big celebration. In my mind the whole christ story is as much fiction as Santa, so that doesn’t bother me.

I was a little surprised the other day - we were picking out cards and my wife asked if I thought it important that we avoid ones that say “Merry Christmas”. I really didn’t care. But I think we ended up going with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” because some of our Humanist and Jewish friends might prefer it.

I think she and the kids were talking about some kind of Humanist celebration a couple of days before the 25th, but I’m not sure what that’s about. Of course, I always am aware of the solstice. But it is just too convenient to celebrate whatever end-of-year holidays on the most commonly accepted date - the 25th.

I was raised Catholic and am now agnostic. It never occurred to me that I could no longer celebrate Christmas because I’m no longer Christian. Christmas is just a fun thing to do. It has nothing to do with Jesus in my mind. From what I see, it’s not even about Jesus for many Christians. The churchgoers in my extended family acknowledge as much - Easter is the real deal and Christmas isn’t particularly important religious-wise.