Well I know for a fact it has pagan origins as a celebration of a winter festival….but for today’s purposes the holiday is largely associated with Christianity. I do celebrate Xmas in the most secular way…the commercial way we do now…sometimes I do feel it is a bit of a conflict because alot of people when I get into this conversation as an atheist as to why I celebrate it do not understand that it largely has nothing to do with Christ…the gifts, the feast, the music, mistletoes….nothing remotely Christian about the common traditional views it employs.
Right, exactly. Originally the 25th was a pagan winter festival, generally around the shortest day of the year to celebrate the reassertion of the sun’s powers.
It is also possible to include the reference to Jesus in Christmas and still treat it as a secular holiday. Santa claus, presents, the reindeer, the elves and all that stuff are a part of a North American tradition. In Czech R., where I grew up, it was baby Jesus who brought us presents, and all the Christmas carols sing about Bethlehem and angels. All of this had no effect on how religious the country was, since the Czech R. is one of the most atheistic countries in the world. No, Jesus is not the problem. It is those who believe he was the son of god and the rest of the nonsense. Look what happened to Easter. The eggs, little bunnies and chicks were used to celebrate the return of the goddess Eostre. Nobody cares for Eostre anymore, but the eggs and bunnies have remained. I’ll keep Jesus in my Christmas because it is a part of my tradition.
Oh dear, christians are upset. Someone stole the sign. From Pharyngula:
“Christianist thugs stole the atheist sign from the Washington state capitol building…I’m getting a few emails that hint that maybe this means it’s now time for open season on nativity scenes. Emphatically NO. Right now we claim the moral high ground here, and we need to maintain it. Put that baby Jesus down right now, guy. Defend their right to display their beliefs and demand equal time for ours!”
... Look what happened to Easter. The eggs, little bunnies and chicks were used to celebrate the return of the goddess Eostre. Nobody cares for Eostre anymore, but the eggs and bunnies have remained. I’ll keep Jesus in my Christmas because it is a part of my tradition.
This supports my theory that whenever chocolate confronts god, god loses. Halloween is long since secularized.. not long after chocolate got in the mix. Easter followed for the exact same reasons even though Christianity had the early advantage of an edible savior (catholics, at least). In the God vs. Chocolate bout, god always loses. Maybe we can shoe-horn some into good friday.
Anyway I’m also for embracing a secular version of popular holy-days. I have the Christmas tree, the chanukah menorah, and the weird Kwanzaa menorah(I’m not black but I did vote dem and there is great symmetry with the two menorahs). Like you fine atheists, I know that tradition and social context are meaningless and that I can rebrand anything I want on-the-fly. I also celebrate the solstice even though I am in fact not an ignorant pagan from the year 1234 BCE worshipping natures cycles. In my house the Solstice is about lauding the accomplishments of the city sanitation authorities and giving seafood related gifts because that’s what I decided solstice means some years back. Come February we will celebrate Chinese New year even though the idea of it being the year 4706 is absurd to me. Frankly I’m tired of Chinese people telling me how to celebrate.. if I want their new years to be about the 1969 World Series then that is my right.. I’ve already got all the cleats and mitts ready anyway.
This past fall I celebrated Ramadan with my family, even though I am not a Muslim. Like you Gorge, I leave in the prophet parts as part of the tradition. It was great, we fasted and read from the Koran (just for tradition, not because we believe) and partied like meth addicts at Spring break during the nights.
In the summer we ritually sacrifice an actual human being to the Aztec sun god Huitzilopochtli- don’t get me wrong! We know there isn’t really a sun god who needs his blood replenished with human sacrifice but well, its just been a tradition so long it wouldn’t feel like summer without it. I guess what I’m saying is merry christmas atheist pals! enjoy.
Childish sarcasm does not a cogent argument make, sate. Was there a point in there somewhere?
Now now, no need for ad hom attacks against me. There was a point in there about the inevitable cultural transfer of meaning from existent religious ritual as a factor of materialistic/pragmatic displacement.. which I conveyed by metaphor of chocolate, an ultimate symbol of western commercialism. I know I don’t have to spell out all these details because you guys are all so smart. At least, you usually are.
I’ve never had a child tell me about historical sociographic ritual debasement and transmission, but maybe you have better kids than I. Anything else you want me to blueprint in CFI-grade detail?
Nothing ad hom about labelling childish sarcasm as such. Clearly directed against the rhetoric not the rhetoritician.
Indeed I spoke too hastily. It is not ad hom so long as its true and appropriately directed. For example I find your comments stupid, asinine really is the word I would use only because F***tacular isn’t actually a word. What I’m saying is they are idiotic, empty, self-serving disingenuous total bullshit.. verbal excrement unfit to decorate a cathouse sewer. A cognitive abortion one might expect scrawled on the wall of a schizophrenic Nazi child molester’s cell. Of course I refer only to the rhetoric. I’m glad we could have this continuingly productive ad hom-free exchange and I apologize for jumping the gun.
FFRF’s presentation is a public relations disaster. Every time one of our organizations does something like this, it sets us all back. We can afford some negativity if we have a positive image, but Humanist and secularist groups don’t have that; FFRF most certainly doesn’t.
The first three lines of FFRF’s statement are fine, but the last one is like a heavy dose of bitter in a savory dish. The entire dish is ruined.
Doesn’t matter that it’s true. In public relations, presentation is sine qua non. As the saying goes, do you want to be right or do you want to get laid?
A better display would show the community what we are for in a positive way. The absence of theistic or other myth-based narratives would be evident enough.
If we keep presenting ourselves in a negative way, the community will continue to dislike and distrust us. Like it or don’t, that’s how it works. If we want to make a difference, we have to start acting like it.