Ah yes, the annual “Should we atheists celebrate Christmas?” thread. You’re right, George, I was afraid it might not happen. It’s become as much a part of my Christmas tradition as the tree! :-)
We celebrate it much like Halloween, as a pretty secular opportunity to gather with family, appreciate the good stuff in life, and buy each other stuff. For years I did take my grandmother to Mass, and I still kind of enjoy the theater of the thing. It doesn’t bother me a bit that I don’t think the deity around which the holiday centers actally exists. That’s not really the point or necessary to the enjoyment or value of the celebration for me.
As for Christmas songs, in addition to all the classics I still love, I’ve become a big fan of Tim Minchin’s White Wine in the Sun. The most emotionally genuine of the Christmas songs I know.
People who know we are atheists, are suprised to find a christmas tree in my home during the holiday. We celebrate the holidays in a totally secular fashion, with Santa for my Down Syndrome brother (who still believes). Nothing we do has anything to do with the birth of a miracle baby, and everything to do with hanging out with family and friends, and eating lots of good food!
I’ve been away from the site for a few weeks so I didn’t get to take part in this discussion when it was fresh. But I was kind of struggling with how to celebrate XMas this year. I finally decided that I would do it pretty much as I always have, even when I was religious. Truth is, it was always about food, family, music, favorite holiday movies, shopping, decorating, etc. There was not much of a spiritual side to it anyway, except what we forced upon it in guilt. “Yes, kids, we simply MUST read the baby Jesus story from Luke before we rip into the gifts.”
I love George’s description below. Like a big Star Trek convention. That’s awesome.
George - 21 December 2011 09:10 AM
I like Christmas and I like to celebrate it as a Christian holiday. In the Czech Republic, where I grew up, churches get packed with atheists for the midnight mass, and we basically treat it the same way a Star Trek fan would behave at a Star Trek convention, dressed up as a Vulcan or speaking in Klingon. We read from the Bible before our Christmas dinner, most of our Christmas music is religious (if not all of it), we send out Christmas cards with baby Jesus on them and take pride in building (or carving our own) the Nativity scene. We all know it’s not real but we don’t really discuss the irrationality of celebrating it this way, because, well, because we just don’t.
I hate all holidays. They create a lot of misery for people because 1)it can remind them of lost loved ones, 2)it puts pressure to spend money when you may be lacking in cash, 3)it disrupts the normal flow of shopping, traffic, etc., 4)it stirs up dissension by forcing us to reflect on our different beliefs.
AND, out of all the holidays around the world there is one that is sorely missing. There should be a Children’s Day where all parents get on their knees in front of their children and beg their children for forgiveness for bringing them into a miserable world.
Well, apropos of the season, someone sent me a joke. Since I don’t care for blond jokes I modified it a bit: A graduate of Bob Jones Bible College goes into a post office and asks for fifty postage stamps. The clerk asks, “What denomination?” The theist responds, “Delighted to see the government has finally come around. Twenty-two Catholics, twelve Presbyterians, ten Lutherans, and six Baptists.”