Why Should Atheists Celebrate the Holidays? December 21, 2009

Why Should Atheists Celebrate the Holidays?

Greta Christina has a terrific article highlighting several reasons atheists should be celebrating this time of year:

Reason #7: Holiday traditions are comforting. The human need for tradition and ritual seems to be deeply ingrained. It’s comforting to do things at the same time every day or every year: things we did as children, things our parents and grandparents did. It gives us a sense of continuity, of being part of a pattern that’s larger than ourselves, of passing along ideas and customs that we hope will live on after we die. For those of us who don’t believe in an afterlife, that last bit can be extra important. And when those customs and rituals are about joy and celebration and people we love and so on, that makes it extra nifty.

(via AlterNet)

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  • How ’bout something like this?

  • Trace

    We do it for the decorations. As my son told me the other day. “our place is all jingled up!”

  • Nan

    Traditions and memories are powerful things. My mother and mother-in-law both died the week of Christmas 8 yrs ago. But every year as we put up the ornaments and dig out some particularly hideous one that mom gave us, we remember and laugh, and yes, tear up a bit. It’s a beautiful time for us.

  • A co-worker commented today that he hates Christmas. I asked him why and his first answer was that he is an atheist. I was startled firstly that he is an atheist, most people around here aren’t and don’t admit it if they are, and then that he ‘hates’ Christmas. I told him I was an atheist as well and that I celebrate it for the good times with friends and family.

  • Jeff

    I’ll take any reason I can get to drink copius amounts of alchoholic beverage and party with my friends and family.

  • I personally enjoy christmastime. I help keep the economy rolling, and get to see my kids’ faces light up. 🙂

    We’re currently seeking a buddy Christ tree topper…

  • littlejohn

    In fairness, the Christians stole Dec. 25, which was the solstice on the calendar of the time, and claimed, with no biblical backing, that it was baby Jesus’s birthday. People were already celebrating. The Christians just stepped out in front of our parade.
    Now we’re just taking it back!
    Happy solstice, everyone!

  • Randy

    With my wife being from Russia, her family (and 99% of Russia) celebrate the New Year and not christmas as their major festival. They had all the same trappings and celebrations without the religion. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrate christmas in January and its not that big of an affair.

  • I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I really like the music. Even the carols. There is a limit to the number of times I can hear “Jingle Bells” before I snap like a dead twig, but other than that, it’s all good. And being able to visit with all our family, including my daughter’s birth family. If we don’t have visits at any other time of year, we can count on having a visit in December.

    And there’s egg nog with rum. Mmm…

  • My family celebrates the secular gift-giving, food, and family togetherness part of Christmas. We just leave out the Jesus worship.

  • I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I really like the music. Even the carols. There is a limit to the number of times I can hear “Jingle Bells” before I snap like a dead twig,

    Actually, I prefer the carols, as music (ignoring the lyrics), but then I’m more of a classical music lover. Most modern secular Christmas songs I find inane and irritating. And the less said about the endless parade of execrable cover versions of Christmas music old and new, the better. I just spent half an hour in my doctor’s waiting room getting a flu shot, and they had the radio tuned to some station playing Continuous Christmas Crap.

  • muggle

    Why defend celebrating it?

    My take on it is I’m celebrating life and enjoying it. It’s neat to do so when everyone else is doing likewise. All that love, joy and giving in the air is infectious.

    As for anyone who thinks I shouldn’t be celebrating their holiday because I’m not of their religion, screw the Scrooges. Bah humbug to them and I’ll go on my merry way, keeping Christmas in my way and leaving them to keep it in their mean-spirited, sulking way. They confront me, I’ll just smirk and say something like “love and peace come to you, happy holidays” and walk on.

  • Colin

    You know, nowadays, whenever anyone says “Merry Christmas” at a store, my first thought is “are they saying this as a tactic in the ‘War on Christmas'”. Happened at the bank earlier today.

  • ImmortalityLTD

    You know, nowadays, whenever anyone says “Merry Christmas” at a store, my first thought is “are they saying this as a tactic in the ‘War on Christmas’”. Happened at the bank earlier today.

    I wished our waitress a happy solstice when she said “Merry Xmas” after dinner tonight, since Xmas is not until Friday.

  • Amyable Atheist

    Because evidently it really pisses off Garrison Keillor, who can go piss off…and who it’s going to take some adjustment (and disappointment) remembering to dislike – http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/12/garrison_keillor_falls_flat.php (thanks PZ – I guess I just hadn’t been paying attention)

  • Peregrine

    Re: Garrison Keillor – This is exactly why atheists should celebrate the holidays. If they want to, that is.

    Most Christians don’t mind. They enjoy the company. And they understand as much as anyone that it’s about peace, goodwill, and family as much as it is about religion or shopping. It’s about that one time of year when we set aside differences, and come together in the spirit of peace, and the hope for mutual understanding.

    But the Christmas warriors would rather spend the season trying to set us against one another. The few who are participating in this overblown ‘War on Christmas’™ aren’t out to preserve the traditional Christian Christmas. The loudest are nothing more than media whores out to gain publicity, and trying to ruin the holidays for everyone else in the process. And the rest are just too naive to realize it.

    It is not our war on Christmas. It’s their war on the rest of us. And the best way to counter it is not to buy into it. Refuse to play their game. Smile, and celebrate as you see fit.

  • Jer

    Hey I’m going to stop celebrating Christmas when they pry it out of my cold, dead hands. Santa didn’t just die for the sins of Christians. He gave up his eye and hung from that tree for all of us you know…

    I’ve actually found that I enjoy Christmas much more now that I’ve found my atheism than I did when I was a believer. When I was a believer I had this “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” stuff beaten into me – I felt all guilty about enjoying the gift giving and the parties and the songs and the cookies because it was all supposed to be “about” the Sacrificial Lamb being born so he could be led to the slaughter.

    Now I don’t feel guilty about Christmas at all – frankly I love it. It’s about spending time with family (okay, that part is not always so easy) and parties and kitschy decorations and funky clothes and the Grinch on TV and Santa Claus and generally finding ways to be happy despite the fact that the weather pretty much sucks. I think it took becoming an atheist to find the true “Reason for the Season” because frankly I think that last one is the real reason we even have a Christmas in December in the first place.

  • muggle

    Jer — my sentiments exactly! Happy Winter!

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